Last month I bought pie weights which I don’t use often but now have available in lieu of random oven-proof objects to hold down a pie shell for blind baking so that it doesn’t bubble up in the oven. Yesterday I bought a meat mallet. I will no longer pound chicken breasts with a hammer to thin them for chicken piccata. I almost bought a Japanese spider strainer but decided I may not need one because I have a slotted spoon and a traditional strainer. Though the old strainer is dented and a bit rusty, it will suffice.


I am usually a proponent and exemplar of restraint in purchasing unnecessary “stuff.” But I am getting old and have lately experienced a desire to purchase a number of the simple but useful items that make for a well-equipped kitchen. You can add a two dollar pie shield to the list.


I didn’t learn anything much about cooking or baking as a child. Through much of my adulthood, I’ve had other things on my mind. Cooking was secondary, probably tertiary or quaternery (I had to look that up). And I had little ability to indulge myself, which is probably the major reason for my sub-standard kitchen. So it is a great pleasure to have and use these simple items. And it is increasingly enjoyable to engage in the straightforward, usually successful and pleasing acts of cooking.  For another person the belated discovery of science fiction books or a talent for singing madrugals might bring surprising pleasure. For me, of late, it has been pie weights and meat mallets.


My pleasure is a sign of aging. It is clear to me that I don’t have forever to make use of a rapid-read digital meat thermometer. I don’t have forever to find out what profiteroles are and try to make them. I may only make them one time in my whole life.


I will continue to advocate for consciousness about products and purchases and to nag and likely annoy my friends about the need to buy bamboo or sugarcane toilet paper rather than flush the boreal forest down the toilet (how sensitive is your bum, really?). But I may that Japanese spider strainer, and make good use of it.