Nothing more to say (on this subject, anyway…).

Thanks Todd and Diane for your amazing work and of course Amy Scattergood for her reason.

 

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© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

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54 Wonderful responses to “Something To Say: Stupid Kitchen Tools”

  • John Verville

    When you speak about a flat-edge spoon, why don’t you show the audience what you are speaking rather than just verbalizing it? I’m just saying…

  • Erica

    Regarding the wooden spoons, it’s sometimes more important to look marvelous than it is to be marvelous.

  • Efusco

    Isn’t a flat edged wooden spoon called a spatula?
    And if rouned wooden spoons are so bad, should we condem all round edged spoons?
    While it’s true they’re not good for scraping the bottom of a pan, they hold up much better to heat than plastic spoons, I do use it to taste and it works great b/c it’s shallower than most plastic spoon bowls (home cooking, if guests I will get and dirty another tasting spoon).

    I do have a wooden spatula and some silicon/rubber spatulas that I use to scrape, but I think the rant on wooden spoons in general is sort of silly (and I’m a fan, own about 6 of your books, and don’t usually disagree with you). They’re sturdy, don’t bend when hot, are good for tasting, and are more convenient, IMO.

    I would have liked to have heard you cover a lot more items in the rant, but you got off on the spoon tangent.

  • Clay

    I let me one year old play with the round ones.

    And for my mother it was her paddle of choice when I was little.

    Other than that, not much use.

    And those paddle ones that are for rice are even less useful.

  • Ben

    Arguing that a flat wooden spoon is more useful than a round one does not mean the round one is useless. My dog tends to get wooden spoons out of the sink and eat them. During my time between wooden spoons, I tend to wish for one on an almost daily basis. Metal spoons can scratch pans, and plastic ones are too weak and can melt. In my mind both the metal and plastic ones are far less useful than one made of wood no matter what the shape.

  • Maureen Sancez

    I SO AGREE! I actually have been in arguments with my mother in law about this – no,please don’t try to stir my risotto with a rounded wooden spoon. They are a waste of space in the kitchen. Except when my kids get too close. Or too naughty. THEN, my foodie friends. THEN the rounded one has purpose. ;)

  • James Rosse

    J. Fussell
    So what implement do you recommend for hand-mixing a heavy dough?

    Um… your hands? Is this a trick question? Am I on camera?

    –Jim R

  • Andrew

    I have to agree with Efusco, you started out on a good topic but then spent 3/4ths of the time ranting on the rounded wooden spoon. I have flat edged and rounded wooden spoons, and I like them both for different applications. The flat edged ones are better for mixing on the stove top, and I wouldn’t use a rounded spoon for a risotto or anything on the stove that requires frequent attention. But if I’m mixing dough (or anything for that matter) in a round mixing bowl, the round one hits the bottom but the flat one won’t reach. I also prefer the rounded ones for scooping out oatmeal and hot grain cereals in the morning when you don’t need much stirring. The round edge allows you to scoop out the cereal and serve it into a rounded bowl with greater precision and less mess than the flat ones. You don’t need to dismiss the round one just to promote the value of the flat one. They each have their place. Butter knives are no good at cutting meat, but steak knives can cut meat and you can spread butter with them too. Doesn’t mean I’m throwing out all my butter knives. My dinner fork can do everything my salad forks can do and then some, but I’m still keeping the salad forks. Flat edge wooden spoons are great. But they don’t make rounded wooden spoons stupid. Pick the right tool for the right job.

    • Clay

      Looking forward to it. Maybe someone can explain the need for a special tool for avocados for me.

  • Ed

    The one thing you failed to mention are the ROUND handles that let the spoon twist in your hand as you use it. Give me a “spoon” with a FLAT handle any day!

  • Austin

    Michael Ruhlman, You’re my kitchen hero! I love everything you have to say!

  • Maureen Sanchez

    really all you need is your brain, your hands, some salt, and fire! I recall someone asking me on my blog what sorts of stuff you could cook whilst camping. Really? REALLY? Just about anything if you have a cast iron pot to use over a fire, some aluminum foil, you’re good to go!

  • Jason Parsons

    I just wonder if this was a late night drunken enlightenment. If I walk into your kitchen right now, how many round spoon am I going to find? If the only tool you have is a hammer…

  • ruhlman

    nope, this is a long time passion of mine. that’s why it was the FIRST tool mac and I made on our own. to me the round wood spoon is an emblem of thoughtlessness in the home kitchen.

    • Andrew

      Again, I strongly disagree. A round wooden spoon isn’t the best tool for stirring ingredients in a pan or pot on the stove top. I prefer flat edged spoons or spatulas for this. But I bake every week. I feed my starter by placing it in a ROUND mixing bowl with flour and water or whey. I mix these together (and similarly, my soaker in another bowl) initially with my big ass ROUND wooden spoon. If I were to use my flat edged wooden spoon, I’d have big clumps of unmixed ingredients at the bottom of the bowl that would not be properly integrated. Could I use my bare hands for this? Yes, of course, and typically I finish it off by hand after a five minute rest. But when mixing by hand, even prewetted hands, you lose flour and starter that gets stuck to your hands, and it involves extra hand washing that can be very irritating to dry skin during the winter months. Hence the beauty of the round wooden spoon. And there’s also nothing wrong with it for occasionally stirring a long simmering pot of pasta sauce where you do not need to be scraping the bottom of your pan. Just like there’s no one screwdriver that’s the answer for everything, there’s room for both round and flat edged wooden spoons in your kitchen. You’re trying to promote your kitchen tools, I get that. But there’s no reason to go off on a rant about a perfectly acceptable implement. I’d love to see you stirring pounds of dough in a round mixing bowl with your flat edged spoon. Use the big sturdy one and you’re missing the bottom. Use the small one and you’ll break it. That’s thoughtlessness. And you have the nerve to say this when just days ago you were hawking a 5 wheel pastry cutter on Open Sky for those who are too lazy or drunk to use a freakin’ pizza cutter or a knife?! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

      • ruhlman

        pretty much disagree on all counts, and this video was not about promoting my tools, it was about getting people to think. I know a lot of people share your belief in wooden spoons.

  • Jason Parsons

    OK. So I have a flat wooden spoon that I use a lot. It doesn’t work well for stirring casseroles near as well as an oval spoon. What do you suggest for that?

    • mantonat

      Stirring casseroles? Don’t you just put them in a pan and let them bake?

    • ruhlman

      a flat wood spoon is better for stirring a casseroles than a round one, though a big metal spoons is probably best for that (and yes, why do you need to stir a casserole?).

  • Jason Parsons

    Mostly I’m thinking of things in a dutch oven. Oval shapes work best there, and I’m not trying to scrape from the bottom. I’m trying to move everything from the bottom to top. If I have a flat edge I must be directly over the steam, but if it is oval then I can be offset from the heat while I stir.

  • Baydog

    I hear you Michael, regarding the round wooden spoons. But how am I going to spank my kids like my parents did us? Is your next post going to be on leather belts?

  • Laura @ hip pressure cooking

    I love the improv style of the video! I use something that you might start calling a bad-ass spatula. I don’t know if Tescoma distributes to the U.S. but they have something that is a cross between a paddle, spatula and wooden spoon. I use it all the time and it has all the advantages of a paddle, plus an ergonomic angle and an edge that “narrows” to easily slip under things. Here it is. It only cost €1! That would be $1.40 or so to you! ; )

    http://www1.tescoma.com/it/scripts/katalog.php?gid=1110011500&id=637364

  • Johan B

    Don’t agree on the egg separator. much more hygienic than hands or a egg shell

  • Phil Torre

    I am a big fan of your blog and books, but that is quite an obnoxious video. The way it is filmed, the way it is edited and the way you talk, it is like you set out to break the world record for cramming as much obnoxious elements into a 3 minute video as possible.

  • Susan

    I found a couple of nice large round wooden spoons and shaved an edge on one with a rasp and sandpapered it smooth. I like the paddle effect of the large surface of the spoons to push the food around while it’s cooking and the flat edge to get to the bottom of the pan..but only when I need to. The one I left round, I use to hand beat batters where I don’t want the strength of a power beater. A round spoon isn’t entirely useless.

  • Baydog

    Maybe they aren’t shaped optimally, but they have more than one use. You can’t stir a pot with a leather belt!

  • Jennifer

    I replaced all my round wooden spoons with flat-edged ones of various sizes well over a year ago with no regrets. I’ve always had a flat-edged one for risotto. I use and prefer a silicone spoon with a metal handle for mixing stiff batters and doughs because the dough rinses right off the silicone for cleaning and I don’t have to goo up my sponge. Forget it if dough dries on a wooden one–might as well use it for kindling. I’m proud to say I’ve never owned an egg separator and have never even heard of a banana slicer. Loved the video. Can’t wait for future installments.

  • Doug

    While you are right about round wooden spoons being stupid, but is it really in the same league with idiocies like garlic press, banana slicer, and any number of overly gadgety single purpose money wasters that could fill a volume? I think you might be over-reacting. We have two of these things, and admittedly, I don’t use them as spoons, but they are great an implement when you need something quickly and you need abuse it. (Like when I dropped my pot holder in hot water and needed to move a hot pan quickly. Round wooden spoon to the rescue– it makes a great thing to hold a pan steady.) Also, I can give them to my four year old for her to practice stirring/be distracted.

  • Kathy Scott

    I now have 2 flat edge wooden spoons because they have both worn down to perfection from years of scraping them on the bottom of the pans….My husband wonders why I don’t use the lovely new ones he has purchased and I have to explain to him they just don’t do the job…so keep scraping away with your spoon and it will turn into just what you need

  • Nandita

    Nothing more stupid than a banana saver I spotted in an “organization” store for Rs.500 – something to cover half a leftover banana. In India, bananas cost around Rs.2 a piece!

  • John Webster

    Michael: I can only assume there is some “tongue in cheek” going on with this rant. Now I agree that a spoon is a poorly designed tool for scraping the bottom of a saute pan or pot, but, it seems you may have forgotten that it was never designed to work in such a manner. A spatula, square or flat utensil is certainly better designed for that function. A spoon is ideal for stirring, tasting and, as my Italian mother did over 130 times, break one of my shoulder as I tasted her food while she was cooking,

  • cybercita

    I am in complete agreement about the uselessness of round wooden spoons with one exception: they are perfect for holding a potato when cutting them into hasselbeck shape.

  • villanelle

    The flat edged spoon is awkward to hold. I had one I never used that I tried after reading a post here about how great they are.Its like a jabbing or pushing motion at a steep angle like vacuuming. Now an angled flat side is nice; you can hold it like a pen

    And round spoons are good for pots with rounded sloping sides, like this pan you’ve linked at least 3 times. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005AL5Q/ref=nosim/ruhlmancom

  • Laura

    It’s easy to make the end flat if you have a little saw and a piece of sandpaper– I love mine once we’ve done this “intervention”!

  • pj

    My best wooden spoon has developed a flat edge over 30-40 years of use. The edge is at just the perfect angle to fit my cooking style, as, after all, it was developed by my cooking style!
    My other best wooden “spoon” is a large-ish wooden spatula, perfect for scraping, stirring, and about any other cooking task except perhaps serving soup :-)

  • sofas | Julian

    I feel with a spoon or another, the truth is I’m happy with both. Not want to get into the controversy but the truth is the truth, I enjoy eating well with both.

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