Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wet Paint

The house is full of wet paint. It smells like paint. Cans of paint. If I survive the night I’ll be able to tell people at work tomorrow how cool my house smelled.

The painter was still working when I got home. He’s put in long hours because he’s a very detailed person. When I caught him tonight he was cleaning his brush and wrapping it up for the night.

“Good brush?” I asked.

“Not bad,” he replied, “I’ve had it a few years.”

In a previous life a painter once told me that a good brush will last a lifetime if you take care of it, “Like a good woo-mahn,” he went on to say.

“Like a good woo-mahn,” I said out loud.


“Nothing,” I said, “frog in my throat.”

I asked him what the secret was to painting with enamel paint and not leaving streaks, drips, gaps and all the other stuff I’ve experienced painting with enamel.

He said that you have to clean off all the dust, prepare the surface with a cleaning solution, fill the gaps, sand the rough spots then, finally, use your 20 years of experience to apply the paint properly.

Ah, so. 20 years. Got it. That explains why when I was 15 I couldn’t paint worth a damn. It doesn’t explain, however, the subsequent years.

The kitchen is more or less back in order, although since we had to take stuff out of the cupboards it’s a great time to reorganize and put stuff where I really want stuff to be put.

Easier said than done.

When we first moved to this house we decided to put stuff where we expected to find it. So, the big pots went in the left-hand cupboard, the small pots to the right, most used tools to the right and infrequently used tools to the left.

Then a strange thing happened. I started cooking on the left side of the range, and moved SOME of the most frequently used tools to the left. However, after they got washed they sometimes got moved to the right.

Chaos reigned. It became hunt, hunt, hunt for the Italian chestnut knife. And the Swiss Army potato peeler was sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right.

Now, we have the opportunity to start over. We’ll have a family meeting and decide where the tools should go once and for all.

Are we nuts? I’m beginning to suspect as much. There was a time when I didn’t even have an Italian chestnut knife.

I’ll be the first to confess that I am a kitchen gadget addict. I love the right tool for the right job. Off the top of my head here are some of the specialized tools I use:

Wine bottle foil remover – Screwpull
Strawberry huller
Poultry needle
Taco bender
Ravioli stamp
Pastry scraper
Chinese dumpling press
Laguiole corkscrew
Hatori Hanzo Japanese knife set – that’s what I call sharp.
Pastry blender
Swiss Army peeler
Garlic smasher
Cherry pitter
Chopsticks – I can cook just about anything with chopsticks
Orange rinder
Pastry wheel

Oh, and the Italian chestnut knife? You’re wondering what that’s for? Well, it’s for inscribing a little “X” on chestnuts before you roast them so the nuts don’t explode in the oven. It looks a bit like a linoleum knife, only smaller and with a blade like a hawk’s beak.

If I had to rate my specialized tools in order of favoriteness I would say, and this is tough, like rating my kids in 1-2-3 order (OK, that’s not a good example!) but like rating my favorite food because it will change as my whims change. Anyway, my favorite tools at this moment are:

Swiss Army peeler – it’s just too cool.
Laguiole corkscrew – a pleasure to use.
Japanese knife set – can’t get enough of “too sharp”
Chopsticks – why didn’t I discover these sooner?


BULLSEYE said...

Great blog. Try for your comments instead of word verification.

Anonymous said...

And where can one get the wonderful sharp knives??

I am coveting them already...

Anonymous said...

omg i never knew how to cook anything without chopsticks


Susan said...

i've got to dig out and send to you my recipe for wild mushroom & chestnuts in deliciouso cream sauce. To. Die. For. Besides, it will give you something else to do with the Italian Chestnut Knife...

Flaurella said...

Is an "orange rinder" the same thing as a lemon zester? Or, perhaps you mean that little gizmo that looks somewhat like crochet hook that one uses to peel citrus without cutting into the flesh? Please LMK what an orange rinder is for I may need one!

I enjoy your blog.