Friday, April 16, 2010

The latest in kitchen technology

I think it so important that one keep up with the latest technology in the kitchen, too. Like rolling pins.

I have three. The one on the left, dating from about 1900, was my grandmother’s. The middle pin, with red handles, dates from the 1940s and was my mother’s. I bought the one on the right during the 1970s from a friend and master woodworker named Waldo Tinderholt, now deceased. It is similar from a technology standpoint to my mother’s pin.

The great innovation here occurred between the manufacture of the 1900 pin and the 1940 pin --- someone decided to drill a hole length-wise through the roller, insert a dowel and cap the dowel at both ends with handles. The idea is, the roller turns but the handles don’t, cutting down on handle burn. What will they think of next?

I decided to do a little comparison testing of the two technologies this evening while making cracker crumbs with which to coat a batch of fish the 4-year-old insists he caught, although I think Dad helped at both the baiting and filleting ends of the farm pond adventure. For fresh fish, you need (a) flour, (b) egg, (c) cracker crumbs, (d) hot oil. How else would you do it?

I can report that both the 1900 pin and the 1940 pin did a top-notch of turning saltines into crumbs, but I felt more in control of the process while using Grandmother’s pin. There was just something spooky about watching that 1940 roller turn while the handles remained gripped in my hands. It wasn’t natural.

So I’m sticking with the 1900 pin, which lives on the refrigerator and is the handiest to grab in any case.

The 1970s pin? Well I didn’t have the nerve to try it out. That thing is too pretty --- layers of wood in alternating colors bonded before the roller was turned, then carefully finished. Truthfully, I’ve never used it. It lives on top of the microwave, fully-powered in the docking station Waldo built for it, but unused.

It’s a little like the blender that lives underneath the kitchen sink --- decorative but pointless. This is a top-of-the-line blender, by the way. You could liquify a steer in it if the steer were cut into small enough pieces. But has anyone ever used a blender? Why do they make the things?

Actually, I do use it --- once every six months strictly to justify the storage space wasted on it . The last time I used it was to make bread crumbs, turning slices of stale bread that had dehydrated several hours in a warm oven until cracker-crisp into nutritional dust in no time at all.

I could have used a rolling pin for this process, too --- and it probably would have been about as efficient considering the amount of time it took to haul that sucker out from under the sink, dust it off, break the bread into blender-size pieces, refill the blessed thing several times, then finally disassemble the thing, wash all of its bits and pieces, put it all back together then shove it under the sink for another six months.

Did you know, by the way, that you can buy ready-made stale breadcrumbs at the grocery store nowadays? Golly. I mean, really, what will they think of next?


Anonymous said...

I really can't remember my mother's rolling pin, although she put thousands of miles on it during her lifetime. I have one like your mother's. It lives in my living room, used only by the grandchildren for rolling out Play-Doh. I also have a rolling pin that belonged to my husband's grandmother, Ella Almira Kime Horn. It is a heavy, hollow glass cylinder, slightly smaller at each end than in the middle, with a screw-on cap at one end. The cylinder was to be filled with cold water so that the pie dough (lard-based, I'm sure) wouldn't stick to the rolling pin. (What WILL they think of next?!) I think this dates back to the early 20th century, since Ella married William Henry Horn in 1902.

Wanda Horn said...

I didn't intend for that to be an anonymous comment - just clicked the wrong option!