Is It Just Me? The Right Tool for the Right Job

I have to share something personal and embarrassing with you. Is it just me?

The it in question is insistence on a very specific implement for a particular job, even though one's batterie de cuisine contains many alternatives. A couple of years ago I counted up 118 gizmos in two drawers under the hob. But, making bread today, I realised that this strange obsession of mine includes even such prosaic things as knives and measuring jugs. Now we probably all have favourite mixing bowls, and they do have to be of the appropriate size. But for bread, it has to be the large metal one for mixing, then the ceramic one for proving. I accept it is just conceivable that changing them round would make no difference to the finished product, but it WOULDN'T BE RIGHT.

Right, not left

And changing the measuring implements? Well, hush your blaspheming mouth. It's the medium size plastic jug for the water, and the small plastic tub for yeast (see the title caption) if I'm not doing sourdough. If it's a sourdough recipe I weigh the salt, and use the same measure. (Don't worry, not at the same time.) But when it comes to topping up the starter - well, obviously it's the same small plastic tub that comes into service. Surely that's obvious to everyone?

I have perfect measuring spoons for my other bread recipes where I measure oil, salt and sugar by spoonfuls. One fine day I will have to change them, but

A good year for Christmas crackers

the two plastic sets which came in Christmas crackers do me very well, and I will be sad when they go.

Finally, to mix? Well, hands to finish off the process, but I start off by stirring with a knife. Not just any knife you understand. Once when writing about bread making I found myself using the phrase a flat bladed knife. Even by the standards of food writers that's pretty stupid - have you ever seen a knife blade that wasn't flat? But I knew what I meant, namely an old fashioned metal side knife, of a type never used any more, and almost all disposed of. Except for this one, my bread stirring knife.

Right, not left

I have a reasonable number of sharp knives, having received most of them as presents. A few of them are quite similar, and they all take on a nice sharp edge, but, for no obvious reason, they assume responsibility for different tasks. In the knife collections of normal people, a vegetable knife is one of the smallest. Not in my kitchen. The big German job does for the onions, and the medium sized Japanese model is always used for segmenting citrus. I could continue, but you get the drift.

I have also been known to get upset if I can't find my normal tasting spoon in the drawer, though I do possess a few dozen others.

Clearly this is too embarrassing to consult a doctor about, so I pose the question to you, dear readers. Is is just me, or are any of you similarly afflicted?


  1. Robert Corrigan on 13th July 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Alhamdulillah I do not suffer from your infliction.
    Yes I have certain things for certain jobs. I have a “bone” handled “flat” bladed main course knife for scone and pastry mixing I use various ceramic bowls according to the job and size required. I have almost no gadgets per say.
    When you work in the industry improvisation is a wonderful thing.

    Enjoy your eccentricity, it is what makes you you!

    • Tom Johnston on 13th July 2022 at 8:22 pm

      I think, my friend, that you contradict yourself at every turn.

  2. B. G. on 13th July 2022 at 6:56 pm

    As a setting with apologies I turn my knives sharp away from the childrens little fingers so in my mind’s eye the cutlery has obviously been positioned dangerously. However I’ve not yet heard Health and Safety or due diligence being involved in this situation yet! Enjoy Tom and know even if I don’t comment welcome or not I’m watching! B.

  3. Carol Main on 13th July 2022 at 7:10 pm

    Sorry Tom, I think it’s just you 😉

    • Tom Johnston on 13th July 2022 at 8:20 pm

      Not only am I not your friend any more, I withdraw my proposal of marriage.

  4. Anne Hillerton on 13th July 2022 at 8:08 pm

    Tom! I so totally agree! I thought it was only me because I do have a wee bit of OCD.
    I have one particular ancient knife left from a set of side knives that has a nice flexible blade and I panic if I can’t find it for certain tasks. And wooden spoons? I have one that I need to use for making a sauce from a roux. No other will do. And I totally agree about the knives. Certain knives for certain jobs. And my ancient tablespoon for measuring flour. Enough! Glad I’m not the only mad person!

  5. Allan Stewart on 14th July 2022 at 9:13 am

    You are a member of a great and noble of convocation of geekery. As a fellow traveller I have to confess to having “a spready” knife (bought in Woolworth’s in the 1960s it has followed me faithfully for all those years and can I spread a humble Ryvita with Flora without my “Spready Knife”? Nope! Of course it’s not to have its tender sensibilities sullied with cake icing – there’s my favourite spatula for that.
    So be happy, be proud, rattle your mixing bowls with gusto!

    • Tom Johnston on 14th July 2022 at 9:26 am

      Thanks, Allan.

  6. Tricia Fox on 17th July 2022 at 10:54 am

    I have a knife that can only be used for cutting open cooked sausages. It is literally losing teeth but it’s the best knife for the job and I won’t throw it out. I bought it for about 5p in Matalan 20 years ago. All its more expensive usurpers have proven to be useless at the job and have been demoted to other tasks like cutting pickled gherkins and the like.

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