That actually isn’t very fair, or true. My mom and dad are great cooks when they want to be. They just don’t want to be good cooks very often.
I think part of the reason they don’t like cooking is they don’t get any pleasure from the process of making a meal. And I don’t think they get pleasure from the process because they don’t have the right tools.
Whether you’re into carpentry or knitting, baking or basketball, the correct tools (carbide-tipped saw blades, nickel-plated needles, a silicone rolling mat or 9.8-ounce shoes) make the task more enjoyable. Each time I pull my food processor off the shelf I get excited because I know I’m going to be grinding some shit up! It’s OK to indulge in simple pleasures.
My parents’ tool drawer (see above) is stuffed with serving spoons, barbeque tongs and at least three dull carrot peelers, but they’re missing three tools I rely on almost every day and make cooking more fun. These tools aren’t essential, but they’re so much better than their alternative, they should be.
I knew my parents would never buy a whisk, tongs, or a Microplane grater, so I purchased them instead. Each of these tools costs under $15, and the tools will more than pay for themselves in cooking pleasure and performance.
I already have a fork. Why do I need a whisk? My parents had a whisk at one point … but then when I was a baby I got my hands on it and bent it out of shape and they haven’t replaced it. My parents have been without a whisk for ~28 years?!?! It truly boggles the mind.
Yes, a fork and a whisk generally do the same thing. But thoroughly mixing a sauce or a bowlful of dry baking ingredients takes 5 seconds with a whisk. With a fork you’re constantly wondering, “Did I do a good enough job of mixing in the baking soda?”
I already have a fork. Why do I need tongs? These aren’t just any tongs – they are made from lightweight stainless steel with scalloped nylon tips. I received these tongs as a present fairly recently, and since I’ve gotten them, I’ve never gone back to my old tongs. They can gently flip flakey dover sole and have the tactile precision to grab individual asparagus spears. A fork can do none of these things. A fork doesn’t have a spring inside … a fork isn’t an extension of your thumb and pointer finger.
I already have a cheese grater. Why do I need a Microplane grater? The Microplane grater is probably the greatest accidental cooking tool. Most of us have a janky cheese grater that can cut through soft cheddar, but not much more. The Microplane is perfect for making a soft snow shower of parmesan, and it’s ideal for zesting citrus fruits. There really is no better way to get the zest off an orange. It’s sharp as hell and will skin your knuckles if you aren’t careful, but it’s also my favorite kitchen tool. (My wife and I accidentally gave each other Microplane graters for Christmas one year.)
I’m not sure how often my parents will use their new tools, but it makes me feel better knowing that they’re actually in the house. Plus, it will make things a lot easier for me during the holidays when I take over the cooking.