The Scoop on Scoops

December 7th, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Every sizable city has kitchen supply stores. If you’re serious about cooking, shop a couple.

Good news to those who have been intimidated or never considered going to them is that you don’t have to buy an 8-burner range or 600 pieces of flatware. While they are for restaurants and professional chefs, they invariably welcome just plain cooks.

When I moved back to Boston several decades ago, one part of town had many such stores within sight of each other. The North Washington and Canal Streets area near what was then the Boston Garden was where cookies went for tools and toys.

Most of these stores have moved to cheaper digs with more square footage and, very rare in our jammed downtown, parking lots. I visited the principal remaining one, Eastern Bakers Supply yesterday.

brokencupIn the latest of what I melodramatically call a personal kitchen tragedy, my frequently used one-third of a cup measure snapped in my hands. It was a tough OXO version of thick plastic, but no match for even loosened brown sugar. While we had owned that one for years, I did not want to replace it with the same thing — that would really mean getting sissy in my food preparation.

An alternative was to buy standard, straight sided cups. I have always found those difficult to clean and tricky to pour from into a mixer, traits of the OXO one as well.

There are also old fashioned styles of scoops. To my taste, they don’t have a flat top level for precision, important in some baking.

On my last visit to Eastern Bakers, I had noticed a different version. Those look like a giant’s teaspoons with a hanging hole in the handle. Always looking for a manufactured reason to shop cooking gear, I headed north.

Regardless of what a car or camera dealer will say to close the sale, few items are really lifetime purchases. These are.

giantspoon

I got a set of Vollrath measuring scoops. They are very heavy and made of 18/8 stainless steel, which I suspect I’d have to leave in a fired up coal furnace to destroy. I am sure my wrist would give before their handles if I dug into brown sugar.

This might be overkilil for a plain old cook. Yet, the elegance and practicality are daily joys to see and use. Those are inexpensive thrills cooks should allow themselves.

I paid an average of $6 for the set,is  up to one cup. That’s cheap for a permanent tool. Each is narrow enough to insert in the openings of my storage jars, has a level surface, is easy to pour or dribble from into a pot, mixer or blender, and very easy to clean. How many times have I mentioned that they are attractive?

I write to inspire cooks to hit the kitchen-supply stores without fear. However, at times I have lived way out there and not had access. If that’s your case, you do have options.

I thought it would be an easy find. Starting with the usual lineup, I tried, Williams-Sonoma, Chefs Catalog and Amazon, among many others. Very few had these or comparable giant’s spoons. Those that did either wanted you to purchase a dozen of each size or charged up to $20 per scoop. Boo.

Unfortunately, Eastern Bakers is, like most professional cooking suppliers, not set up for online shopping. They are cash/check/card and carry outlets.

However, with much clicking, I located a store that not only has these (and a tempting variety of other gear) but sells them at the low price. If you are in the sticks or you still hesitate to enter a chef’s store, try Wasserstrom. It has stores in about half a dozen Midwestern and Southern cities as well.

In person or over the net, go for the cooking cheap thrills. I’m sure we’ll each cook better with the right scoop at hand…or think we do.

Tags: harrumphharrumpherkitchen supplyEastern Bakersmeasuring cupVollrathWasserstrom


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2 Responses

  1. Uncle says:

    And where is Eastern bakers now? With all its faults? I still have serious needs, such as replacing all my plastics with glass.

  2. Harrumpher says:

    Well, for those who shy not from Boston, I can lead you quickly from BBW downtown into the cooking glory.

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