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 béchamel 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.
Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below:
Gillian at Tales from a happy house.
CJ at Above the River
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.