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Jan 8, 2011 09:03 AM

The home handy cook, or how to use multi-taskers with attitude

So, her indoors was not so impressed when I took my sawzall to a frozen leg of goat. I tried explaining that butchers use a band saw. Still not impressed. So I looked back at some of my previous uses of macho-mechanics in the kitchen.

Old hole saw blades make the best cookie cutters.
A dry-wall saw makes short work of a chicken.
A carpet-kicker is a bit iffy when it operates as a meat tenderiser.
When unable to find beaters for the mixer I made do with a paint stirrer and an electric drill.
The absolute best pastry brushes are made by Purdey (nothing to do with shotguns)

I'm always keen to improve my arsenal of utensils. Any suggestions?

Failed uses are particularly welcome. If it involves a sliding mitre-saw then doubly so.

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  1. I use needle nosed pliers for removing fishbones and stray chicken feathers. They also are helpful in pulling the needle through when stitching up a birds cavity. A big rubber mallet is very handy. I use it most often for helping the knife go through winter squash and such. Plumbers torch for all sorts of browning.

    Microplanes of course!

    3 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      I use needle nose pliers, small jaw pliers, and microplanes too. I've never felt the need to try a rubber mallet on my knives, but I imagine you have to go easy on it, right? I would be a little afraid of doing this on a Japanese knife.

      I actually use a long butane lighter to burn the remnants of chicken feathers from chickens. This is a more modern technique versus what my grandma used to do with wooden matches. What I like about the burn technique is that you also burn off the little "hairs" that are hard to see and even tougher to pull.

      1. re: RGC1982

        I have weak hands...often when trying to cut a melon or winter squash my knife gets stuck and my hands can't provide enough pressure. I use a lesser quality knife* and proceed gently! Actually a chef friend watched me struggle with a knife and cantaloupe once and suggested the method for me.

        I like the lighter for the feathers!

        * Lesser quality knife is a no-name plastic handled thing that refuses to die. It actually keeps a sharp blade too. It is handy for certain things.

        1. re: RGC1982

          ipsedixit just taught some of us to remove the hairs from pigs feet by putting on a little oil and shaving it off with a disposable razor. I thought that was brilliant.

      2. Straight or curved Kelly clamp. 50 ml bulb syringe for basting. Disposable gloves (which I reuse) to open tight lids.

        1. Lots of cooking-related uses for stuff I would rather buy in the hardware store than in a kitchenware shop. Still, those items in my toolbox have counterparts in my kitchen drawer; the hammer itself doesn't go from construction to cuisine. There's lead-based paint in my house -- gotta draw the line before it ends up in my salad dressing.

          1. There is usually a pretty limited selection of spatulas in any kitchen supply store. Drywall taping knives, on the otherhand, are much more accesible and come in a wide range of shapes and sizes that can be very useful for cake decorating and chocolate making.

            1. I once got the plastic cork out of a bottle of wine with a flat-head screwdriver and a lot of desperation.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LeoLioness

                I once witnessed an electric drill doing a number on a stuck wine cork ... not to worry, not a great vintage