I remember as a child being allowed to stand on a stool in the kitchen to “help” my mother with baking, covered with flour (and being allowed to bake one of my “moulds” of baking), or just put it in the utensil drawer, and it reminded me of how many of those old tools that have stood the test of time, or could even be useful again.
butter paddles were part of his collection and were two wooden paddles with grooves cut lengthwise each. For special occasions, a block of butter was cut into small equal squares and laboriously placed one at a time between the paddles and formed into a ball by rolling the paddles in opposite circular motions. I wonder if this was a fancy way of rationing butter during or after WWII.
Sponge shredder – it was a heavy metal device that she screwed onto the edge of the kitchen table or counter (no fancy suction cups back then), with the breadboard clamped on so the clamp wouldn’t mark the table! Used to chop things up – usually leftovers from the Sunday Roast to make hashish for a Monday shepherd’s pie. Flex your muscles and twist the handle hard! There was a selection of different knives to chop different things, can’t remember what the others were used for as I never saw them used.
Metal Chip Cutters – a peeled potato would be placed in this sturdy metal device, and a lever pulled down, like a medieval torture machine, and voila, perfect chips would come out the other side!
Nest of cookie cutters – if I remember correctly it was usually to cut scones into even shapes after the dough was rolled out. There were three different sizes, always held together with a piece of hairy rope!
Hand whisk – this one had two small beaters and a wheel that you turned manually to circulate the beaters. You would die of exhaustion if you tried to turn egg whites into meringues.
Metal ice cube tray – to get the ice cubes out, you’d have to gently float them over a bowl of hot water to get the metal hot enough to start melting the ice, and then your fingertips would be frozen when you try to take out the delicate things.
wire cutter for eggs† Eight or ten strands in a frame that you pushed over a hard-boiled egg to slice it—sliced eggs were a staple on salads, or on a sandwich in those days—with lettuce-cream whips.
sugar ladle – there was always a sugar bowl with a small curved spoon in it, just to pour sugar into your tea, so your stirring spoon didn’t make beige lumps in the sugar bowl.
melon ball – you can still get them like a miniature scoop of ice cream† different sizes at each end of the handle, to make melon balls for fruit salads.
egg separator – these have been updated to a simpler device these days, but you can still get the original style. It was a metal device with a handle and sort of a sieve into which you would drop an egg, and after a lot of gentle shaking and shaking, the white would separate and leave the yolk in the cup.
Cake Birds – I loved this one, and antiques are collectibles these days. A small ceramic bird, usually a blackbird, with its beak open, is used in the center of a pie to keep the top crust from leaking.
Most of these are outdated by modern devices these days, or simply don’t exist anymore. Novelties came and went too – a cracker was one, it looked like a giant metal comb with long teeth. It was actually meant for cutting delicate cakes like angel food.
It was hard to be a cook then! I wonder how many of today’s inventions will be left for future generations?