Being My Own Granny

It is a pleasure to find a tool which is economical, useful, and attractive. With a birthday Amazon gift certificate, I got two new/old tools which will, along with my 3 well seasoned cast iron skillets, my copper preserving pan, and my 8" chef's knife, form the most substantial and worthy part of my estate when I depart this earth, hopefully at some time very far in the future.

At under ten dollars each, they are nicely made versions of classic kitchen tools you may have been lucky enough to acquire from your own grandmother. While I have inherited a number of recipes from both grandmothers, and a wealth of cooking strategies and some cool dishware from my mother, I don't have any cooking tools that any of them used.

These two "updated" items are the sort of thing both of my grandmothers had in their very different kitchens. They are only "updated" in the sense that the metal parts are now made from high carbon stainless steel, an option not available when the originals were made. Manufactured by LamsonSharp, an American company which says it has been around since 1837, they are full tang, with walnut handles. When they arrived, they came with a little note on their history, which I enjoyed.

One is a "Granny Fork." During a renovation of the company's building, a small 3 tine fork was discovered. This was similar to a three tine fork produced by the company for mess kits, for a government contract during the civil war. It was used for various cooking and serving purposes, as well as in the field. I had been hunting for a 3 tined fork of this exact kind. It is 7" long, neither a dinner fork nor a carving fork.

Since I first saw, and envied one, in the kitchen of a friend's grandmother, I was amused to find it called a "granny fork." It is just the thing for certain tasks- such as testing for doneness of boiled potatoes . The three prongs and the 7" handle are good for these jobs. If the fork is shorter, you burn your fingers easily ; if it is longer, you lose some control and coordination.

I was pleased to discover this unpretentious, useful object. . While I was browsing, a companion item caught my attention- the "New Used Parer," which I also ordered. On its arrival, I learned that Susan Lamson, whose husband owned the company, in the 1800's, had a favorite paring knife, which over years of sharpening had achieved the shape which you see here. When her knife finally bit the dust, her husband Silas made her a new knife just like her worn down favorite. I'm quite partial to this shape myself-it is good for peeling and rounding potatoes and other veg- and some boning tasks as well.

For several years I had a knife of this shape which I bought in a hotel gift shop in Chicago. I needed a knife for some fruit and cheese I bought, and had left my picnic knife at home. This odd knife was the only one in the shop-open late at night, when most stores were closed. It wasn't fancy, but it proved very handy later, when I brought it home, and it held its edge surprisingly well, until I misplaced it. So I bought the parer, and I am pleased with myself over both.

I think I'll keep the little plastic toothbrush type cases they came in, in case I decide to travel with them. If I ever move, they'll be coming with me.

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