I’ve often said that our hands and the best kitchen tools every made. They can do so many things and are always (sorry, I have to) close at hand. They can break items down and combine others together. They can mix, measure and mold. And it is those same hands that guide and utilize all the rest of the tools in our culinary arsenal.

So if hands are the most versatile and we expect so much of them, why should we expect any less of the rest of our tools?

As much as I love kitchen gadgets and little doodads that do specific things in the kitchen, I really love finding multiple uses for those one-trick ponies populating my cupboards and drawers.

Back when I taught cake decorating we’d try to come up with different uses for those shaped cake pans that are very popular for their ease-of-use but, let’s face it, not exactly versatile. If you trace the basic outline of the pan on a spare cake-board or piece of paper you get to see it without all the details. Turn each drawing 90-degrees and you might see something else in the shape that you didn’t see before. Bingo: another use for the same item! Our rule of thumb was trying to get at least 1 use of each tool per dollar spent.

Albondi-subsYears (and years) ago I bought a baguette pan. Great for keeping those lovely loaves rounded instead of flat on the bottom but kind of a pain to store and not exactly made for multi-purposing. But! Making meatball subs with leftover albondigas one night with the aim to toast them/melt the cheese without the stuffed rolls losing all that yummy filling, that baguette pan was the perfect tool to hold the subs just right in the oven. And the other night when I was baking English marrow squash stuffed with seafood, that same baguette pan was, again, perfect for keeping the squash halves perfectly positioned.

This weekend, helping my brother get ready for his housewarming party, he had a watermelon I decided to get a little fancy with. Of course, being a bachelor, a melon-baller wasn’t part of his kitchen. In a pinch, we decided to use an ice cream scoop (the crescent-shaped kind) and it worked great! It made larger-than-usual egg-shaped watermelon pieces which were much more practical for a casual summer party and made cleaning out the watermelon shell a while lot easier than trying to do it with a pairing knife!

What single-use kitchen tools have you found other ways to use?


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