These are a few of my favourite things …

Hi there,

I’ve made friends with a stick. I think technically it’s called a bamboo skewer. Think of chicken shish kebobs, remove the chicken and the vegetables. Now you have the wood part in the middle. That’s the part I’m talking about.

I bought a bag of these wooden sticks several years ago to use for making teriyaki salmon kebobs. And they do still get used for that meal. But I’ve rescued one stick from the garbage, and now it’s my favourite kitchen tool. I know it’s not very sexy, and it’s so cheap it’s virtually free.

My stick has many fabulous uses. For example, I poke lots of things to check for doneness, such as baked goods (banana bread, muffins, apple pie to see if the apples are soft enough). I stab boiling potatoes. I pierce the potato and lift up… if the potato falls off, it’s cooked. If it clings and stays stuck to the stick, it’s not fully cooked yet. I jab pork tenderloin and hamburgers to see if the juices are no longer pink.

As well, I stir my coffee grounds with my wooden instrument of torture before plunging my Bodum coffee press. If I was the type to eat chocolate fondue, I could use it for that, too, I suppose, but really chocolate doesn’t last long enough in this house to be saved, melted, and eating elegantly. Instead it is hidden, eaten in one sitting, or not brought into the house at all.

These bamboo skewers sell for about (US) $2 per pack of 100. This allows for the occasional one to be broken or thrown away. Very recently we were trying out a new cleaning lady, and after she left I quizzed my husband as to where he’d put the stick. You know, the stick I use all the time. How am I supposed to check the potatoes (to make mashed potatoes) without my stick?

Anyway, we soon discovered that our new cleaning lady had THROWN OUT my precious stick. She was trying to be helpful, I’m sure. She probably thought we’d ordered take-out the night before (and only had one stick hanging around … seems suspicious). Maybe she took it home with her (unlikely). Thankfully, Husband found the package of remaining sticks and pulled out a buddy.

This begins a new series of articles, to mix in with the food bits and the recipe adventures and the lasagne disasters and the tandoori chicken recipe I’m trying to perfect… In this series called “These are a few of my favourite things…” I’ll share some of the things that make my life as a cook just that little bit easier. Future articles will include the story of my $4 fluorescent green vegetable peeler, my special Dorothy-goes-to-Kansas chef shoes, and my potato ricer.

Do you have a tool that you think everyone should know about? I’m certain, for example, that Ginger has an ice cream scoop that she says rivals all others. As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Just hit reply to this email and drop me a line 🙂

You can always reach me at

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef

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