Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Color Collaborative: November: Wood




I like to think I have a modern, well-appointed kitchen here at Casa del Osos. There's the standing mixer, a birthday present from my thoughtful in-laws. There's the electric kettle, obviously indispensable. My appliances are decent. I have cookie cutters galore, good pots and pans, a vast assortment of plastic storage containers, thermometers, sharp knives and a whiz-bang digital scale. We've come a long way from the days when almost everything we had in the kitchen was a hand-me-down or a yard sale find. We added new items over time, as the budget allowed. My first real kitchen purchases, in order: a set of three Pyrex mixing bowls, a small, stainless-steel ladle, and a wooden spoon. For all the lovely things in my kitchen today, that same wooden spoon is still my most-used tool.

My spoon is nothing special. I think it's probably made of beech wood. I was looking for something cheap, an addition to my clutch of second-hand plastic mixing spoons. I thought a wooden spoon seemed like a good idea; I'd already melted a plastic one on the edge of a hot skillet. This wooden spoon cost a couple of dollars. It came tethered to a cardboard label. I liked the pointy corner at the tip. I'll freely admit that I didn't have the first clue about what made a good wooden spoon when I bought it. I liked the price, mostly.

I probably assumed it would last a short time and then I'd buy a better one. Like almost everything else in those early years, it would have seemed temporary, a stopgap. Surely, I'd be moving up. And yet, here I am, still using the same old spoon. We've jettisoned a lot of old kitchen things over the years, including most of the plastic spoons, but my wooden spoon has always made the cut. It's too useful.

We've made some terrible dishes together: the grainy, greasy butterscotch pie filling, the half-assed Knorr sauces from packets (I tried them all; they're all bad), the caramel popcorn my pot wasn't big enough for, the slow-cooker oatmeal I forgot about. But also: the b├ęchamel I've perfected, the soups and stews I can now make without checking the recipes, the holiday meals I've cooked all by myself - soup to nuts - for my friends and family. I have other spoons, but I always reach for the wooden one first. I use it every day. It may even be shaped to my hand by now.

They say you're supposed to replace wooden spoons every few years, because they wear out and develop flavors and odors from the foods you cook. I'm sure this is true about mine; just look at the faded wood and the splinters on the handle. Where it used to be shiny, golden and glazed, my spoon is now sort of a whitish-gray, a mere ghost of its former self. You can practically see the garlic fumes. I've always kept it in a crock next to the stove, with my other main implements of cookery, where it gets shoved and bashed regularly. When I'm browsing housewares, I always stop at the hand-carved wooden spoons. Burnished and beautifully burled (the olive wood ones are my favorites), free of scents and stains, new wooden spoons do capture my attention. But I'm in no hurry. My spoon still has plenty of life in it, and I don't know how to cook everything yet.

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Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below: 

Annie at Annie Cholewa
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Sarah at mitenska
 
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.

33 comments:

  1. I love this post Jennifer. My wooden spoons are a necessity in my kitchen too, they are also old, stained, blackened in a couple of places where they got too near to the flame and totally loved :-)

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  2. Ooh yes Jennifer! I have one too and can totally relate. Happy Thansgiving x

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  3. I like how the grain of the wood makes a heart in the spoon's bowl. :o)

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  4. My wooden spoon has a point also, and I bought it about 8 years ago (eek!), but time flies by so quickly that I find I still think of such items as fairly new! Wood is so beautiful, one of my favourite materials. My husband has just taken up wood carving as a hobby, so I am looking forward to filling our home with beautiful handmade wooden objects.

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  5. That post certainly touched a chord, I am a great fan of wood in all its guises but there is nothing like the wooden spoon when cooking, I wholeheartedly agree nothing could take its place.

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  6. What lovely thoughts. I used to have a spoon that belonged to my mother, it had been used for decades and was so worn. In the end the bowl split and it became unhygienic, it was such a shame. But as you say, they last for a really long time. CJ xx

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  7. I'm feeling rather greedy on the wooden spoon front reading this, I have at least ten of different sizes, shapes, and handle length, but just like you my favourite is old, battered, has one square corner, and in my case a scorched handle.

    Lovely post Jennifer, you have such a brilliant knack for capturing all that is good about 'home'.

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  8. I do replace my beech wooden spoons regularly but I have a favourite bamboo spoon which I bought during our first visit to the Eden project in Cornwall many years ago so I do understand the value of a well-loved utensil. I have many really old wooden items in my kitchen such as chopping boards (I rub mine down with bicarbonate of soda, give them a scrub and rinse well with very hot water and they come up as good as new), my beloved rolling pin, one of the first kitchen items I bought when I was a student and some wooden-handled knives where the blade has been sharpened so many times it is wearing away. And please don't ask me about wooden-handled gardening tools. I had the handle of my allotment fork replaced because the ash shaft and forged steel tines are so much better than anything you can buy today. Great post Jennifer.

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  9. Hardly a day goes by when I don't use one of my wooden spoons. Some I've had since I was a student (far too long to think about!). I have added to them over the years, but I can't recall ever throwing one away. Yours puts mine to shame as they are mostly stained or blackened with use. They sit, like yours, in a utensil jar next to the cooker; always there and always reliable. I do rather like the square edge of yours; I imagine that's very useful - maybe I need to buy another one to add to my collection?! Have a happy Thanksgiving. xx

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  10. Your wooden spoon looks in great shape next to mine, goodness knows how long I've had it. You're right though, wooden spoons are indispensable, I must use mine every day.

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  11. I have several wooden spoons – a couple that I've bought over the years but most of them once belonged to my grandmother. My favourite has a slightly bent handle and it feels really comfortable in my hand. It's the one I'll use when mixing cakes and puddings and I won't part with it. Sam x

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  12. love wooden spoons & chopping boards, got rid of all my plastic spoons when i discovered bits come off them, i'd rather wood pieces in me than plastic.
    your spoon has a lovely shape to it & gorgeous colouring.
    happy belated birthday too! glad you had a wonderful day
    thanx for sharing

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  13. I know exactly what you mean about your spoon. I have a couple of wooden spoons, but only one that I love, it's the perfect size.

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  14. What a great post.
    I wouldn't be without my wooden spoons, I have a few of varying shapes and sizes - they are so much better than the plastic type.

    All the best Jan

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  15. Lovely post. Wooden spoons....there is something about them for sure. I have a plan to start whittling my own one of these days. You can buy a special spoon whittling knife, which looks incredibly sharp....x

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  16. I love this post Jennifer. It's perfect for Thanksgiving day! I use my wooden spoons every day. It was one of the first kitchen items I bought for the camper. You just have to have a wooden spoon in my opinion. I hope you have a lovely day today with your family.
    Blessings, Betsy

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  17. I love your wooden spoon. I have several and each has it's own personality. I have one with a handle that is curved like a cat's tail and was hand-carved out of cherry wood and the maker stained black stripes on the handle like a tail. LOL!

    *:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*:._.:*~*:._.:
    *H*A*P*P*Y* *T*H*A*N*K*S*G*I*V*I*N*G*!*!*
    *:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*:._.:*~*:._.:

    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  18. It's a lovely post, a wooden spoon is so much more comfortable in your hand don't you think xx

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  19. Oh, I have such a weakness for hand carved wooden spoons! There is something so seductive about them, about the shape of the bowl. But I only have one as they are not cheap, but I guess that reflects the skill that goes into crafting them.

    I do however have a set of bamboo spoons bought because they don't hold odour and can go in the dishwasher. They are all excellent (and were pretty cheap I think) but there is one that I always choose first - I must just like the size and shape of it - and it's very similar to yours. Great post Jennifer. xx

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  20. You are supposed to replace them every few years, oh dear. I think some of mine my be over twenty years old...........like Annie I have loads in a terracotta jar next to the hob. I don't have a favourite just grab the one at the front. I have never seen one with a square bit, I like that, I can see why that would become a favourite. Loved this post, thank you.

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  21. Great post! We have some much-used and much-loved kitchen implements and yes, my little old wooden spoon is one of those. There are actually maybe six of them in the spoon jar but I always reach for the same one. I also have my mum's potato masher which she used when I was little. It still does the job. Not sure whether 'kitchen lore' is even a Thing, but if it is then these items are definitely part of it.
    S

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  22. I love my wooden spoons especially the ancient ones lol I have a wooden box made by one of my sons where all sorts live next to the stove plastic as well.....

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  23. There is nothing better than a wooden spoon. Yours is just perfect. I had to say good bye to my last wooden spoon a few weeks ago, Jack the naughty puppy took it and chewed it all up.

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  24. Ah for the love of a good spoon. I love mine too. My friend makes spoons and they are truly gorgeous. Jo x

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  25. I love your wooden spoon, they're a must in the kitchen don't you think? I have to guard mine carefully as our dog will chew them to bits given half a chance. I hope you and yours had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday Jennifer and have a great weekend. Jane xx

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  26. I love your writing, Jennifer...and after reading this post I have a new appreciation for the use of the wooden spoon :) My mom's wooden spoons were used for so many years, their wood darkened in shade as did her pig shaped wooden cutting board. In my parent's later years I was loathe to use the well worn wood for fear of contagion, but I treasured the way they looked and the good memories they invoked. Thanks for posting! xx

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  27. oh dear, I think some of my spoons might be 20 years old too. all burnt and battered and I could never part with them. I bought a hand carved teaspoon but it seems too precious to use.... I've been researching spoon carving courses, I long to make one myself x

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  28. I have a favoured wooden spoon too, it was a hand-me-down from my mum, I'm sure she had had it for years before giving it to me, and I've had it for 13, I don't think we'll be parting ways any time soon! x

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  29. I have a favoured wooden spoon too, it was a hand-me-down from my mum, I'm sure she had had it for years before giving it to me, and I've had it for 13, I don't think we'll be parting ways any time soon! x

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  30. Most of my wooden spoons predate my husband! I don't mind the borrowed flavors!

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  31. Hey Jennifer,
    I have a wooden spoon that has been with me since I moved into my first flat with Marc in 1995. I can't bear to throw it out. It just fits my hand like so. Oh and a jam spoon, which has been dyed by all manner of boiling fruit.
    Leanne xx

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  32. I too have a favorite wood spoon. I have had it for over 10 years. I have seen great ones when I visited Brazil but did not got any to bring home but next time if I remember I shall bring a couple with me. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving !

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  33. I totally agree ,now you can to mention it one of my wooden spoon is over 27 years. I bought when I first started cooking properly when I had my eldest daughter, I use it only for curries as mine is stained with turmeric , home blended masala . I do believe that spoon adds flavour it has almost become that bark of cinnamon stick , or a handful of cloves, or a bay leaf , it is a seasoning all of its own. As Ian Dury sang ;Hit me with your Rhythm stick ,Hit me .Only ours is a well seasoned stick
    Great Post, Jennifer
    Have a lovely week

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