Favorite Kitchen Tools

Use your head to save your heels.

That was one of my mom’s favorite quotes from her mother. And yes, I am guilty of repeating it to the boys. Because the meaning has become so internalized (A ‘fridge magnet says, “I am not my mother.” And I. Am. Not. At least I hope not. Am I protesting too loudly?), I have scissors everywhere. The ones pictured here do not include every pair in this small, two-bedroom-one-bath apartment in San Francisco.

If “favorite” means “what gets used more often than any other tool”, then, in my house, scissors win hands down. They should be sharp, comfortable to use, and low maintenance. A pal gave me the big poultry shears shown in the center of the photo. I love the easy way they cut through a chicken’s backbone.

I have a pair of scissors by each desk, a pair in the drawer with the bandages (That’s the one I used this morning to cut labels off new jeans. Finally! I’ve worn through the patches on the old ones.), two pair live in my ditty bag (another reminder of Mom. She had ditty bags/small sewing kits made for each of my sisters and me. Does anyone even have them these days?). In the kitchen one pair sits in the drawer next to the back door ready for garden duty. Another resides in a drawer at the opposite end of the counter. Its job is trimming flower stems and cutting whole chickens into pieces. And a third stays in the drawer by the stove, closest to the kitchen table where I cut recipes from newspapers. (Have I just revealed myself to be hopelessly old fashioned?) There’s another pair in the bathroom and two in the laundry room for opening dog food bags and miscellaneous tough jobs. Do garden clippers count in this category? If so, the population just increased by another five.



I have known her for years and been impressed by her willingness to understand in detail each phase of the wine business. She has vision, common sense and tenacity.

-Robert Mondavi

About Penni

Over 30 years as a food and wine professional, writer, and editor.

Cookbook author including:
'The Tra Vigne Cookbook' for Michael Chiarello,
'The Basque Kitchen' for Gerald Hirigoyen
and 'BurgerBar' for Hubert Keller.

Contact Penni Wisner