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Some folks treasure a piece of cast iron that’s been passed down from previous generations, others covet fine crystal from their great aunt. Me? Well, I’m obsessed with a little wooden stick that my Bubbie used in her own kitchen.
It’s not particularly old and I’m not even sure it was all that special to my Bubbie; she owned a cake-decorating store in our hometown and I’d be willing to guess she “borrowed” it from the shop for her upstairs apartment one day when she was in a pinch. I inherited it (along with a bunch of her bakeware and icing tips) when she passed, and not only does it make me think of her (and all the decadent sweet treats she’d expertly churn out from her tiny kitchen), but it’s also incredibly useful.
This wooden stick I speak of is an oven rack pusher and puller. There’s no name and it’s lovingly worn in some areas. It’s literally just a thin piece of wood with two notches in it: one that hooks over an oven’s wire rack and pulls it out, and another that pushes the rack back in place. You can also use it with baking trays, roasting pans — really, anything you put in the oven. It’s also got a magnet on one side, so that it’s always in reach on the side of the fridge or oven door. Don’t let this description fool you though — this stick is so incredibly useful.
My last apartment had a ridiculously obstructed oven (see: How I Made the World’s Tiniest, Most Awkward Kitchen Work) and my Bubbie’s rack puller helped me get things in and out easily. I live with a normal kitchen now and have easy access to my oven, but I still reach for this stick all the time. Why? Raise your hand if you’ve ever jammed your oven mitt right into a cookie when you reach into the oven to pull out a baking sheet? Yeah, all of us have!
Well, not to brag, but I don’t anymore because I hook the wooden puller onto the side of the baking sheet and pull it out enough so that I can get a better grip on the tray. Zero cookie disturbance! Oh, and if you’re wondering, the wood doesn’t burn because it’s just being used for quick tasks here and there.
Don’t have a Jewish Grandma to give you a stick inheritance? You can buy one for about $5! This one from Mrs. Anderson is essentially the same thing as the one I have, and it has a hole for a string in case you want to hang yours up.
I really thought this little wooden stick was unnecessary when I first “got” mine from my Bubbie, but I now reach for it every single time I bake anything. In time, you’ll see it for yourself, too.
Do you have an oven rack puller? Also, what’s the best kitchen item you’ve gotten from your grandparents?