These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things (A Giveaway)

My Favorite Things

**Be sure to read the entire post for details on the first BAH Giveaway!**

We all know about Fraulein Maria’s favorite things.  In case you need a refresher, the list includes:

  • Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
  • Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
  • Brown paper packages tied up with string
  • Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
  • Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

A list of my favorite things isn’t nearly as lyrical…if only Rogers and Hammerstein has scored a musical about cooking then maybe there would be a show tune that includes:

  • My Microplane Zester
  • OXO Spring Loaded Tongs
  • William-Sonoma’s Half Sheet Pan
  • Cooling Rack

Because I’m here to tell you that these are some of the hardest working tools in my kitchen.  And if they were suddenly gone for some unknown reason, there would be no make do substitute, no second string player to come into the game.  They would have to be immediately replaced with exactly what I had.  I rely on them THAT much.   Let me tell you why.

Sure, the Microplane Zester can give you perfect zest from a lemon, lime, or orange.  It’s kind of implied by the name.  But it also finely grates hard cheeses, like parmesan.  Wait, there’s more.  Run a bit of bar chocolate over the zester and you’ve got decorative chocolate shavings to make any dessert look like a million bucks.  Still not convinced?  How about using it to grate fresh ginger.  All that power and it will never chew up your knuckles like a box grater.

Off all the spring loaded tongs I’ve tried, OXO is my favorite.  Not only does it have a nylon head which will not scratch nonstick cookware, that nylon is heat resistant to 400 degrees.  I use them without worry to flip over pita bread in a screaming hot 550 degree oven.  I’ve never had a problem.  And the soft grip stays cool as well.  What good is a pair of tongs if they get so hot that you can’t hold them in your hand?  Unlike other spring loaded tongs that lock when you hold them a certain way, and unlock when you hold them another way, the OXO tongs have a manual lock.  Slide the tab out and they’re locked.  Slide it in and they’re unlocked.  No need to have to remember to hold them this way or that or worry about them unlocking in the utensil drawer.  I hate when I open the drawer and they’ve opened and then everything else in the drawer jumps out like a magician’s snake in a can.  These OXO tongs will never turn your utensil drawer into a magician’s snake in a can, I promise.

William Sonoma’s half sheet pan is no cookie sheet.  It is 18″ x 13″ of commercial quality, rolled rim, aluminum coated steel.  I use it for everything from baking cookies to roasting meat and vegetables to holding my mis en place in place.  I’ve banged those pans around in the last five years but they don’t dent or warp.  I liked the two that we received as wedding presents so much that I wanted two more.  But I cheaped out and bought ones from a chain that starts with tar and ends with get.  And you know what?  I always reach for the WS ones first.  I would have been better off just buying one of the WS pans instead of two from the other place.  I can even tell them apart with my eyes closed.  One feels hefty and substantial.  The other is light.  Go ahead, guess which one is which.

You know what’s better than just a half sheet pan?  A half sheet pan with a cooling rack that sits securely inside it.  Yes, of course I use the cooling rack to cool all sorts of baked goods.  Without exception, my cookies and cakes and whatnot land on those racks after being pulled from the oven.  But I also use the racks when I bake or roast something and want the heat to circulate evenly around or want to avoid whatever I’m cooking from sitting in a big pool of greasy goo.  U2 says it best…elevation.  In fact, Cook’s Illustrated often states in their recipes to employ this method.  In my perfect world, Bono would do a guest spot on America’s Test Kitchen.  Then Chris Kimball would have to loosen up and just rock out, wouldn’t he?

So as we look forward to opening our Christmas presents, whether they be from family, friends, or even Santa himself, I hope that you are surrounded by some of your favorite things.  Who knows, maybe there is something in your stocking that you’ll add to your list of favorite things.  I doubt even the jolly old elf could find a way to squeeze a mighty seven quart Le Creuset into my stocking, but I’m not going to give up the hope of a Christmas miracle.

Since it is the season of giving, I’m going to give two randomly selected commenters something off of my Favorite Things list above.  All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post before 11:59pm on December 31st.  To borrow a line from The Barefoot Contessa, how easy is that?  Only one comment per person please and I won’t be responding to comments on this post until after January 1st, after the winners have been randomly selected (with the help of

12 thoughts on “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things (A Giveaway)

  1. Wendi, you forgot one of Maria’s favorites (and the most relevant one for today!)–snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes! I’m hoping for a whole bunch of those!

    Thanks for doing this great giveaway. I have a set of the OXO tongs and I concur, they are fantastic!

    PS-Love the picture at the top. Those tongs and the zester kind of make Maria look a little ninja. It’s a SOM/Ninja mashup–Sound of Music and Ninjas!

  2. I have one of those as seen on tv vegetable dicers. I can’t dice worth a darn or at least not without dicing fingers in the bargain.

    Since soup with diced finger is not good eats and un- uniform veggies make cooking times fluctuate…….something needed to be done.

    I saw Sandra Lee use one and had to have it. wonderful thing for onion…but makes small diced carrots, potatoes, and celery to boot. No more HUNKS in my soup.

  3. I’ve always wanted a microplane but I never think about it when I’m at the store. It’s when I’m up to my elbows in butter or sausage or flour and I think to myself “Dumbass. Buy it next time you see it.”

  4. I’m not sure whether Canadians may enter your giveaway, but I wanted to respond anyway: even if Santa with his holiday magic could manage to fit that Le Creuset into your stocking, I’m laughing at the mental image of you trying to remove it on Christmas morning.

  5. Santa is a true gourmand and understands these things. Maybe you just need a bigger stocking? I’ve always been curious about microplanes — like, are they all that? I’m a die-hard box grater, myself!

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