This is just a rough estimate, but I'm pretty sure I've spent about 1000 hours in the kitchen testing recipes and prepping the food for photos for the new...Read More
Favorite Things: Bar Towels
When I took the knife skills class at Whole Foods last year, I picked up a bunch of
new good better habits (Confession: I’m still lazy about keeping my knife sharp. Terrible!) and added a few essentials to my kitchen arsenal, including a massive cutting board that I leave on my countertop at all times, a knife sharpener (ahem), and — perhaps the least sexy but surely my favorite purchase — a stack of bar towels.
I cannot over sell how completely freakin’ great it is to have a stack of clean towels on hand when I’m doing a Weekly Cookup, prepping for a dinner party, or even just throwing together my breakfast. Bar towels are different than the average dish towel. They’re smaller, square instead of oblong, and super-duper absorbent. In no particular order, here are some of the ways these towels help me in the kitchen:
- wringing the excess moisture out of zucchini noodles, defrosted frozen spinach (for Meat and Spinach Muffins), and spaghetti squash
- providing stability under spaghetti squash during the somewhat terrifying process of cutting in half for roasting
- protecting me from splatters when puréeing hot soup (like sweet potato, zucchini, or cauliflower) in the blender
- mopping up my many messes
- soaking labels off glass jars
- subbing for a hot pad when removing stuff from the oven (If you do this, make sure your towels are dry; wet towels will conduct the heat.)
- wiping down my knife and cutting board between ingredients
- removing hot lids from simmering pans
- covering just-out-of-the-oven or just-off-the-grill food while it rests
Here’s the deal: you need a lot of towels. I bought a stack of two dozen, and I go through about 8 to 10 during a cooking session. When I’m about to start cooking, whether it’s a multi-hour chop-and-stir extravaganza or just a quick lunch of tuna and raw veggies, I grab a clean stack of towels from the cabinet and put them in easy reach. When I’m really on fire, I leave them in strategic locations around the kitchen — next to the stove, on the far counter top, next to the sink, on the center island, next to the cutting board — so that no matter where I am in the kitchen or what I’m doing, there’s a towel right there.
Seriously, people. This might be my most favorite kitchen trick. Towels! Who knew?
They’re more absorbent than paper towels, they’re less wasteful, and they give you the edge and flair of a kitchen pro. Plus, it’s very satisfying — when the last container of food has been stashed away in the fridge — to collect all the dirty towels, toss them in the washing machine, and reflect on the good food waiting to be eaten.
Get your own stack of towels
I bought this 24-pack of basic white from Amazon, and they’re great! Then I found the cute green-and-yellow-striped numbers in the photo above at Target. (They’re not listed on the Target web site right now, but you might find them in your local store.) The fruit-colors (yay, pink and orange!) are a recent find at our neighborhood grocery store. If you want a little color in your kitchen, Amazon has this 8-pack of primary hues or you can go classic white with thin black stripes.