As some readers know, I and my buddy Mac have begun to manufacture new cooking tools that we love, and we’re already getting great feedback. We love The Spanker, above (photo by Donna, thanks hon!)—the big paddle for stirring big pots. There’s simply nothing out there like it that we could find. I’ll be using it to stir a double batch of Hoppin’ John for a New Year’s Day fete. But my mom said it was too big for her—she never cooked in batches that would require this bad boy.  Another reader said the same, but added that she loved the paddles she’d received so much that she’d have been happy to pay the same amount for two small paddles.

This is exactly the kind of feedback we need, and because we’ve produced our tools in such small numbers, we can actually make changes in them, perhaps create one in between.  So please, for those who have bought anything, give us your feedback, good and bad.

Now, For the Giveaway:

My awesome partners in internet commerce, Josh and Lindsay at OpenSky, are so excited about the partnership that they’ve put together a bundle of my favorite products to give away, more than $200 worth of invaluable tools. The Spanker, of course, and the very popular All-Strain clothes, the 12-inch wenge Knife Grabber, as well as the EatSmart scale, and the big awesome John Boos cutting board.

To be eligible to win, follow me on OpenSky by going to this page.  By following me, not only will you be eligible to win the five-pack of tools, you’ll also get offers for eyebrow raising deals on other products I curate and recommend (as in, 30 to 50% of the already low-margin prices).  I know they’re planning a deep discount on the CIA sidetowels next week to all followers (please join my plot to rid the world of pot-holders).  You’ll also be alerted to new Dalton-Ruhlman tools as soon as they become available (we’ve got some awesome spoons in the works for later in the month).  The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, January 12.

If you don’t know about OpenSky, have a look—it’s an exciting way to spread the word about great products and to learn about great products from trustworthy sources.

That’s all for now—come back tomorrow for Hoppin’ John and bean technique.


55 Wonderful responses to “Favorite Tools Giveaway”

  • Jamie

    I’ve made stock three times in the past week and each time, as i strained it through layers of cheesecloth that I would ultimately have to throw away, I thought, “Damn! I need some of Ruhlman’s All-Strain cloths.” Guess that’s a sign, huh?

  • kakaty

    I braised a mess of short ribs this weekend in my new 7 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven on Sunday. As I cooked the veggies I keep thinking how handy the Spanker would be to stir and scrape up the good browned bits. I need to order it with my xmas money!

  • dickinson

    Bought the paddles for my wife for Christmas…she loves them, but would like an intermediate size one to complete the set. After running the smaller one through the dishwasher (is this a no-no), the wood feels much rougher to the touch. Any advice?

    • Mantonat

      Running anything made out of wood through the dishwasher is usually not recommended. This includes cutting boards, salad bowls, and wooden spoons. You might be able to revive your spoons with a good oil rubdown (the spoons, not you). Food-safe mineral oil is a good option.

    • ruhlman

      yes, it’s a no-no to put them in dishwasher! i mean you can, but they get pale and dry out and won’t last nearly as long. best to give it a quick swipe with a sponge. (Confession: I used to put them mine, then mac embarrassed my by asking how long it takes to wash a damned wooden spoon? Answer, about 5 seconds. 5 seconds well spent.)

      And the intermediate size is def a great idea we hope to implement.

    • ruhlman

      and yes, oil them with veg or olive oil, let it soak in for a while then rub the exess off with a paper towel.

  • rich sims

    MR, this sounds exciting. I trust our e-mails will remain with you and opensky? Best of luck in the new year.

    • ruhlman

      I should note this. Absolutely, the emails will be kept by open sky solely for the purpose of mailing people who want the product updates. These will NOT be given out—I hate that, I get maddening amounts of junk myself.

  • Comal Caliente

    I definitely gotta get the spanker. This is actually a really common wooden spoon used in Mexico, it is so great that you are creating this tool and that everyone has an opportunity to purchase it. I’m definitely picking up a few of my own. Thanks again for such great products and looking forward to more!

  • Laura

    I just got a cornucopia of culinary toys from my boyfriend for Christmas, and he was joking that now he doesn’t know what to get me for Valentine’s Day. This seems to solve that problem. 😉

  • Susan

    It appears from the photo that these paddles (at least one of them) are angled for use by right-handed people? Is that the case? And if so, what’s a left-handed person to do?

    • Julian

      Yes! I mentioned that in the original post myself. Glad to see another fellow lefty taking notice. Lefty models, please?

    • ruhlman

      I agree it’s awkward if you can only stir with left hand, but stirring is easy to become ambidexterious, no?

      • Nancy/n.o.e.

        stirring is easy ambidexterous, maybe, but scraping, getting in corners and lifting ingredients from the bottom is harder for a lefty when using the right hand.

      • Jenn Sutherland

        I would LOVE to see a left handed version of these spoons – I nearly ordered them until I noticed the righty bias. While I CAN stir right handed and often do, the most used wooden tool I have in my kitchen is one my friend Jeff Bengston ( made for me that is specifically left handed. It fits in my hand perfectly and gets into the corners of the pot and I adore it. Beautiful tools that work well for your hand will always be treasured.

        I did receive your all-strain clothes and simmered up a batch of stock on Monday, and the clothes worked absolutely beautifully – producing the clearest stock I’ve ever made. They will get lots of use in my kitchen!

  • *susan*

    So odd. I was already a registered member of Open Sky [due to your brainwashing, er, I mean, encouragement] and still had to go through the activation phase. I have purchased a lot of olive wood stirrers from small vendors at French markets which I use for most of my cooking.

  • Natalie Sztern

    why has it become so difficult to find their shipping policies to Canada. To tell the truth I find the site a tad too difficult to peruse for a person as impatient as I am…not easy to digest at least from the link you provided…and no talk on shipping costs at all…

  • Melanie

    I cannot tell you how thrilling it would be to have a sufficient cutting board. I can chop up one onion and have to clear it to keep going. Thanks for the chance! Wonderful products!

  • Gerry

    I used the straining clothes when making stock Sunday and they worked perfectly and cleaned up easily in the wash.

    I bought the wooden spoons and the large one was much bigger than I expected – I have to angle it to get it into a normal-depth kitchen drawer. I plan to give it to my sister-in-law who doesn’t have the right tool to stir pounds of masa every Christmas and will appreciate it very much. I’ll be using the smaller one often. They are beautiful and very sturdy!

    • ruhlman

      i’ll tell mac about the spoons. i’ve changed the wording on the paddles to warn how big they are. i guess giving written dimensions and photo (with eggs for perspective) isn’t enough. We’re working on changes and an intermediate sized paddle. Glad you like the cloths! Thanks for the comment!

  • Michele P.

    wow, now my curiosity has gotten the best of me… tamales are a big thing in hubby’s family, and stirring the masa with one of those huge wooden spoons sounds good in my book! I am following you on OpenSky now and am quickly becoming a big fan of your products, ANYTHING that makes life easier in the kitchen is fine by me! Cooking is supposed to be fun, not a chore 🙂

  • Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle

    Love the wooden spoons; I have some large metal ones I use but would prefer wood and yours are beautiful.

    Funny, I had some guests help with cleanup a few weeks ago and they put EVERYTHING in the dishwasher; took me longer to find and remove the stuff I wash by hand than it would have been to have swiped it in the first place. Including my bestest wooden spoon!

  • pat

    Ohhh, ahhh… just spent Christmas with my sister, who prides herself on not having good knives or the ability to sharpen any of her knives (and the rest of her kitchen follows). Treats like these would be awesome.

  • Andrea

    My husband got the dark wood magnetic knife bar for me as a Christmas present and I proudly installed it in our new kitchen yesterday. It IS as strong as promised and looks great with our espresso cabinetry. Marvelous!

  • naomi

    There are at least 3 items I would be happy to order. Sadly, OS does not ship internationally. (It’s Canada, it’s just next door.) *pouts*

  • mpw280

    For the spoons that were run through the dishwasher, you can resand them with 220 grit and maybe 400 grit sandpaper and then reoil them. The washer raised the grain which needs to be taken back down to make them smooth. I use a 50/50 mix of beeswax and mineral oil for my spoons and cutting boards that I make. It works well and once you make it up you can put in a container and then just use a clean cloth to work it back into the wood surface.. I give a 35 mm film container full of the mix out with my boards and spoons. mpw

    • dickinson

      Thanks mpw…I will give the sandpaper and beeswax/oil combo a shot. If not completely satisfied, I know where to get more spoons!

  • Amy

    My hubby gave me the scale and the Boos cutting board for Christmas. Needless to say, I was thrilled and have already put them both to good use!

  • Michael Long

    I have not ordered anything yet, But I will. The only comment I have on the paddles is that the bottoms, The business end should have some kind of radius so that the paddles will get into the corners. Every pot or pan that I’ve seen has an inside radius to them. And putting a radius on the paddles would allow you to get tighter into the corners. But other than that, I think they look great. And I really like the big ones for the big pots… You did good Michael.

  • linda

    Loved the spoons, but like your mom, the big one is just too big for
    me. Priced very fairly I thought and they are beautiful.

  • caranda

    Mary Alice Kropp
    Sure, after I just ordered the CIA towels! LOL

    I sent Michael an email thanking him for the CIA towels suggestion. I have two sets and they are spectacular. It probably sounds strange to some, but I’m telling you these things are great. Wash them before first use — they don’t break in until a couple washes and aren’t absorbent to start out. Don’t use fabric softener either. They won’t properly dry or absorb.

  • Bonnie Deahl

    The spoons look fabulous…and a way to hang them. I’ve been using scales more with my cooking. I may have to try the scale also. Good luck with this new venture! I enjoy your blog and inspiration for cooks.

  • Jan

    Here’s another voice in favor of left handed wooden spoons and spats. I come across them every now and then at craft shows and LOVE them.

  • Karen

    A word about the left handed kitchen tools…I am left handed and have found that it makes my world a better place to challenge myself to use my right hand and adapt. No matter how a kitchen is set up if you train yourself to be ambidextrous…you win.

  • Karen

    A word about the left handed kitchen tools…I am left handed and have found that it makes my world a better place to challenge myself to use my right hand and adapt. No matter how a kitchen is set up if you train yourself to be ambidextrous…you win.
    Very excited to check out the new line of kitchen tools..great idea!


    Love the paddles Michael – I ordered them the first day you mentioned on Twitter; used the spanker to mix my mom’s vanilla fudge recipe and it worked like a charm!

    As for input for future items – I’d like to see an even larger straining cloth for things like homemade ricotta which I make at least once a month – even the largest cloth isn’t quite big enough to tie up the cheese and let hang.

    And finally, purchased the CIA sidetowels last year and have never looked back – those are terrific!!!

  • Susan

    I agree it’s awkward if you can only stir with left hand, but stirring is easy to become ambidexterious, no?

    Er…not so much. And though I’m sure these spoons are worth the price, if I’m going to pay that much I don’t want to have to accommodate and make do.

  • ruhlman

    susan, if we can ever get to the point where we can sell 250 lefties, Mac will make them, one especially for you!

    Thanks for all the comments–especially grateful for the “radius” comment on the spoon. agree. and we can definitely put a bigger cloth on the list of To Dos!

  • Martha

    Hi Michael,

    Unrelated to the giveaway, except that you mentioned it in your post, might you be sharing your Hoppin’ John recipe in time for some of us to make it ourselves this New Year? Please and thank you! 😉

  • Peter

    I have a “Lefty” bamboo paddle thing that’s angled for us southpaws, and another smaller one that I’ve been using backwards for years. (It has almost no concavity, so it works). I’m pretty ambidextrous (I play guitar and sports right-handed) but stirring is always done with my left.

  • bojj80

    I have been a huge fan of yours for years and loved the idea of the wood stirrers. I received them and thought they were beautiful but the large one really is too large. I would have been happy to have received 2 of the small ones. Alas I am returning them but if you make the small one available for individual purchase it would be great. Also, not too crazy about the name. Yes, there have been many times over the years (as my kids were growing up) that I would have been tempted to use the Spanker for things other than cooking (ha!) but for marketing purposes I don’t think it describes the true function of this tool!

  • Jacqueline Willis

    Got the strainer cloths and CIA towels for Christmas (my husband loves when I hand him stuff to put in my stocking) they are great! and they arrived in less than 24 hours!

  • Kay Calkins

    Each Fall I make a bushel/bushel-1/2 of apple butter. I think the “Spanker” is the perfect tool for the job! (Daddy used to cut a branch and fashion it into a crude oar-like “spoon” for the work … yes, really).

  • dave

    I’m starting a mass of short-ribs tonight for consumption tomorrow night. I can’t wait to test drive the Spanky and Spanker I got for Christmas!

    Happy New Year.

  • Winniekimmers

    I will be ordering the CIA towels. Have always ordered simple cloth diapers in the past because they are absorbent and wash well…. But it kind of freaks people out so it will be nice to actually use an official kitchen towel. Thank you for allowing iBooks to sell your books! Please encourage Anthony Bourdain to do the same. I love reading his stuff too.

  • Sam

    I received the wenge knife grabber in my stocking on xmas day! It is beautiful and the magnet is very powerful. Now I just need to decide where to place it in my small kitchen.

  • diane

    This lefty loves her spoons! I ordered as soon as I saw your “favorite tools” post–figured quantities would be limited, and I didn’t want to miss out. The spanker is a bit of a monster- but it looks beautiful (especially after an olive oil rubdown) hanging against the vertical grain Doug fir cabinets in my kitchen. Bonus- it’s the perfect tool for keeping my boys–husband and son– in line. An intermediate size would round out the set nicely.
    Off to roll out pizza dough. Thank you, Michael and Donna!
    Feliz Ano Nuevo from soggy Santa Barbara.

  • Mrs. FoodieLawyer

    I bought the spoons and the straining cloths for my husband and he loves them! Brilliant – a wooden spoon that actually stirs! We’ll be buying another little one and would definitely buy the medium size if you make it. We used one of the straining cloths for straining sauerkraut for New Year’s Day – worked like a charm. Will definitely use them the next time we make stock. Thanks for providing such great products!

    p.s. We love the logo too!

  • David

    The Eat Smart Scale is cute, but we are the precision and accuracy?
    +/- 5g doesn’t do it when you are measuring salt…


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