The Kitchen Tool I Didn't Know I Needed

The Kitchen Tool I Didn't Know I Needed

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

When it comes to my kitchen — and, okay, I'll be honest, pretty much every aspect of my life — I am a minimalist. I'd been drinking the Marie Kondo Kool-Aid long before I even heard of KonMari. I just feel better when I have less stuff.

Still, that doesn't mean I don't like things, especially when they're useful. And, in recent years, I have been convinced that my kitchen needs a salad spinner and a lemon squeezer. Yes, my life is definitely better with those two additions.

And just recently, I discovered that there is another kitchen tool missing from my arsenal: a metal spatula.

My Catskills Kitchen
(Image credit: Geraldine Campbell)

I am, at this very moment, sitting in a 189-year-old house in the Catskills. It is, in most ways, wonderful. There is a swing and a fire pit and a trickling creek out back. My dog and I take a 4-mile walk up the "mountain" and back down around every morning. And now that I've figured out how to turn on the heat, I don't have to rely on Charlie for warmth at night, when the temperatures drop down into the 40s. (Which, okay, really isn't that cold, but compared to the nearly 90°F and humid last week in New York, it's quite chilly).

The thing that takes some getting used to is the kitchen. This is probably true for every rental kitchen because, well, it's not yours. This one has about a gazillion corny coffee mugs and some camping-style plates and a sponge so tiny I'm not really sure what to do with it.

On the night that I arrived, I had a beer and potato chips instead of attempting to cook dinner. But this morning, I decided I needed real food. My stomach was grumbling and, besides, sour cream and onion-flavored Utz don't really go with coffee. So I decided to make pancakes.

Full disclosure, I did not make them from scratch (although I have made these best-ever buttermilk pancakes and they definitely deliver), but I had some mix and some water and it seemed like a good way to ease into my new kitchen.

(Image credit: Geraldine Campbell)

I found a wooden bowl and a whisk so small I wasn't really sure it was up to the task, but it was — tiny but mighty. I heated up the cast iron with a smidge of grapeseed oil and used a measuring cup to dole out batter into the pan. Then, I looked around for something to flip them with. I spied a simple slotted metal spatula in the same jar that held that itty-bitty whisk (plus four wooden spoons, a serrated wooden knife, a rolling pin, and a potato masher — I think).

Aesthetically, it appealed to me. I looked for identifying marks, but the only thing I could find were the words "Stainless Steel" on the backside of the handle. It would do, I decided.

So, this might sound crazy, and maybe it's because I only have a plastic spatula and a wooden spoon and a very awkward grilling spatula that I got for free at home, but it was kind of miraculous!

Big enough to handle the whole pancake, but not so big that it made maneuvering a challenge, it made me wonder about all the other things I could be flipping with finesse. French toast, perhaps? Eggs? And, moving beyond the realm of breakfast, I'm guessing it's flexible enough to turn delicate fish, but strong enough to use to smash down a burger.

I decided on the spot that I needed one for my own Brooklyn kitchen, something to look forward to on my return. I couldn't find the exact model, but after just a few minutes of internet research, I discovered — and purchased — a similar one from Crate & Barrel. Here's to many more pancake-filled mornings.

Get the Spatula: Stainless Steel Spatula, $12.95 at Crate & Barrel

Have you recently discovered a new utensil for your kitchen tool jar?

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