We love this time of the month when we get a chance to nosy around a food blogger’s kitchen and ask them to show us their favourite tools and gadgets in our ‘in the kitchen’ feature.
This month we are having a peek at Helen from Family Friends Food who has always loved to cook, learning from the best – her Mum and grandmas!
Over to Helen…
Cooking was only really a hobby until I had my daughter and left my job. I had more time to be creative in the kitchen and found I was really enjoying it. I started the blog as a way to chart my culinary adventures and record my recipes. I try to blog 2-3 new recipes each week, which makes sure that our family mealtimes never fall into a rut. It’s also much easier to share recipes with friends as now I can just send them a link!
This rolling pin belonged to my Great-Grandma. I don’t know what kind of wood it is but it weighs a ton, so it must be something like mahogany! It’s probably been in use for at least a century, and the surface is gorgeously smooth and silky. It rolls out pastry like a dream, mostly because of its incredible weight.
Unfortunately, I don’t really know any more of its history. Why is the handle missing from one end? How did it get that burn mark? I can only imagine my Great-Grandma using it and guess at the answers.
This knife is a Global GS-5 14cm vegetable chopper, given to me as a housewarming present nearly 15 years ago, and I use it almost every day. I bought a sharpener and keep it in tip-top condition, and I use it for everything – fruits, vegetables, cheese, tofu, fish… I love the design of Global knives, which has become quite iconic. There’s no join between the handle & the blade so they’re easy to keep really clean, and this one has the perfect weight and balance for me, so it’s really comfortable to use. I occasionally think about buying another knife from the range, but always resist, because there’s nothing I can’t do with this one!
We have a ridiculously large selection of highly specialised gadgets, and here are just a few of them. I’ve chosen the ones which have some special meaning to me. They are, from left to right:
Citrus zester – I bought this for my husband when we were first going out! I mean, how can you have a serious relationship with someone who doesn’t even own a citrus zester?!
Boiled egg topper – place over your egg, squeeze the ‘scissors’ together, and tiny sharp points crack your eggshell in a perfect circle, so you can lift off a neat lid from your boiled egg. I bought this for my daughter, who is rather partial to ‘dippy eggs’. When I was little we had one in the shape of a chicken, but after much searching, we had to settle for this simple version instead.
The apple spiral slicer is the Giro Apple Slicer by Mono- the C-shaped object screws round and round an apple to create one long spiral slice. We bought this on our honeymoon, although to be honest, we don’t have much call for long spiral slices of apple on a day-to-day basis.
Strawberry huller – This is actually a replacement strawberry huller. The original one has gone AWOL and this one was bought (at great expense) in a fancy kitchen shop. It isn’t as good as the first one, sadly, but whenever I see it in the drawer, I look forward to using it, because that means it’s SUMMER!
Spaghetti tester – the thing that looks like a letter opener is apparently designed for removing a single strand of spaghetti from the pan to check for doneness. Another honeymoon buy, which means I shall never, ever part with it, despite it being a triumph of form over function and hence, rarely used
Crinkle cutter – I bought this when my daughter was starting on solid food, because it puts tiny finger grips into whatever you cut with it. She would sit in her high-chair grasping crinkle-cut mango, melon, cucumber, or, well, anything else really. I’d recommend it to anyone with a newly-weaning child in the house! It hasn’t seen much use of late, as she now uses a fork (when she can be bothered) but I keep it because it reminds me of my Grandma, who had an extremely battered crinkle cutter with which she cut her chips. Best chips ever!
This is a stack of just some of my Jewish cookery books. The one on the top is by Florence Greenberg, and was the first Jewish cookery book to be published in the UK, in 1947. It was given to me by my Mum, but the inscription inside suggests it previously belonged to my Great Aunt, and was a present on her birthday in 1962. Most of the recipes are very dated, but it’s fun just to read Florence’s no-nonsense recipes, and there are one or two that have stood the test of time.
The book in the middle – Evelyn Rose’s New Complete International Jewish Cookbook – is the book I’d take to a dessert island. It is packed with hundreds of foolproof recipes for just about everything, and is the book I turn to whenever I need to cook something traditionally Jewish. A while ago, I wanted to make my Mum’s lokshen kugel (noodle pudding) and discovered, after talking to my Mum, that it was actually Evelyn Rose’s recipe all along. You can read about it here.
The bottom book was given to me on my Bat Mitzvah – the coming-of-age ceremony a Jewish girl has aged 12. It’s a hilarious snapshot of Jewish cooking in the 1970s and contains recipes for such treats as avocado soup, sweet and sour giblets, and lung and liver pie. <Shudders>
The most recent purchase in this stack is second from the top – a book of Italian Jewish recipes, written in Italian. I’m having lots of google translate fun with that one at the moment!