18 May 2008

Vegetable Peeler

The basic vegetable peeler is the unsung hero of the kitchen. For starters, it's often relegated to solely peeling vegetables. For another, people often buy/get the cheapest ones they can find, and then complain that it's not doing its job. A good vegetable peeler should be sharp. The reason for a having a very sharp peeler is so that the peeler doesn't slip. Instead, you want it to power through the skins smoothly and easily.

The blade should sit fairly snugly inside the housing. You don't want one that's flapping in the wind, because it'll tend to break quickly, and also tend to slip a lot. You want one with blades that are sharp all the way inside, so that you can use it left handed, right handed, peeling away from you, and peeling towards you. You want to go for one with a comfortable grip, so that when you're peeling stacks of vegetables, your hands don't get tired. This is especially important if you are prone to muscle fatigue in your hands, are working in a professional kitchen, or have arthritis.

Most of all, if you have more than one person in your family, you might consider investing in more than one peeler. They're not too terribly expensive, and it's nice to have multiple people helping you in the kitchen at the same time.

I'm sure you've noticed by now that your peeler is a multitasking tool. It does more than peel vegetables.

When you want those really super duper thin slices of cucumber, nothing beats a vegetable peeler. Same with carrots, onions, squashes, etc. Same with when you want very thin slices of firm fleshed fruit, like honeydew, cantaloupe, or apples. Definitely good for getting super thin slices of root vegetables, like poatotes, beets, parsnips, radishes, and others like those. Wrap your vegetable peeler up in something, and take it with you when you travel. This way, you can pop into a grocery store, grab some veggies, some dressing, and maybe some nuts or other salad toppers, and you'll have a salad wherever you go! No need to pack a knife, which is bulky, and threatening.

Think about it: you're stuck in a middle of nowhere town. The hotel has nothing for you that looks palatable. You run to the grocery store (and in some cases, convenience store), snag whatever raw veggies you want, and then process them down with your peeler. This goes double for when you're doing a road trip, and have limited space in your car. Why take up space with bulky food that'll go spoiled? Isn't it easier to throw together a salad, wherein the grocery store is storing the food at a crisp, cold, fresh temperature, than have one pre cut? Think of how much you spend on a salad at a restaurant or store. Think of how much more you'd be getting if you're willing to invest just a little bit of time. This is ideal, because you don't need a cutting board or other tools. Everything fits in your hand.

Your vegetable peeler is also perfect for shaving very thin slivers of chocolate. You'll never get it thin enough with a knife. Although you may like it, it's probably best if you keep the chocolate consumption to a reasonable level. Use your peeler, and you'll be fine!

Finally, as the days go by, you'll start finding uses for your peeler that you hadn't considered before. Have fun with it! The other day, I made very long slices of cucumber with my peeler, and used those slices to wrap up little pieces of avocado, carrot, and a bit of rice. It was like having my own home made sushi without buying the sushi mat, the expensive ingredients like nori, and taking time to compress it down or whatever.

The point is that it's sometimes fun to see where a particular tool can take you, and run with it!