kitchen essentials

I’ve been thinking about doing a post like this for awhile, because people often ask me what my favorite kitchen tools are. It’s taken me a while to really think through what I use everyday because these tools have become extensions of my limbs in some cases, and I forget how frequently I use them.

Things I couldn’t live without:

  • Ice cream scoop – This particular one makes scooping ice cream the easiest thing ever! I love this! There’s a reason it’s the first item on my list. 😉
  • Box grater – Particularly helpful if you are trying to save money by buying blocks of cheese and grating it yourself. Not to mention the additives that you avoid when you grate if yourself. Yes – companies add weird stuff to grated cheese so it won’t stick together. Nothing to get upset about. . . but still. You could just grate it yourself.
  • Immersion blender – Another one in the top five – this is great for making single serve smoothies, sauces and pureeing soups without burning yourself.
  • Fine mesh sieve – Since I’ve started making baby food, I’ve used this even more. I use it to strain sauces and ice cream bases, rinse beans, strain stocks. . . You name it. I actually probably need another one of these, I use it so frequently.
  • Colander – With all the pasta I make, I have three of these. Although, I did just discover this and I’m enamored. Maybe my next kitchen purchase?
  • Good kitchen knives – I love this set of Wüsthof knives that I got as a wedding gift. I also have Hollow-Ground Santoku knife that is a little smaller than the typical chef knife – a good intro kitchen knife. Good, sharp knives can make all the difference in the world. I recently took the whole set to get professionally sharpened and it made all the difference in the world. I hadn’t realized how dull my knives had gotten.
  • Vegetable peeler – I’d love to get a set of peelers like this, but the simple one that I have right now is great.
  • Cutting boards – There are so many types of cutting boards. I have one that sits over the sink that’s made of wood (I only chop veggies on it), a small and large plastic one and a set like these that let you know what you can cut on them. You don’t realize how frequently you need these. I have a bunch!
  • Digital meat thermometer – I really like having one of these around when I’m cooking large pieces of meat. You can insert the thermometer and set the temperature that you want the meat to be cooked to. An alarm sounds when it’s done. Love this thing!
  • Fish spatula – I don’t know how I functioned in a kitchen without this tool. Definitely in my top five.
  • Tongs – Another simple but necessary item. I don’t know what I did without one of these!
  • Rubber spatulas – I can’t have enough of these around. I use them for scrapping bowls clean, stirring things when they’re cooking. . .
  • Whisk – I actually just broke my cheap version of a whisk the other day. I need to get a new one because I use it frequently in making sauces, whisking together dry ingredients for baking and making dressings.
  • Microplane – This is possible one of the top 5 items in my kitchen. I use it to grate ginger, zest oranges or lemons, make pillows of parmesan cheese, shave chocolate on top of desserts . . . it is wonderful.
  • Measuring tools – I especially love these Oxo measuring cups for measuring liquids.
  • Pepper grinder – Fresh cracked pepper tastes completely different than the pre-ground stuff. In a better way of course. I love this thing.
  • Kosher salt – Technically, this isn’t a tool, but I’m adding this one because iodized salt is yucky and salt is a must in a kitchen. Switch to kosher (or sea salt, even) from iodized, you’ll be glad you did! It’s only around $2.50 for a box. It’s worth it. I promise. I eventually want to get a salt cellar or a salt pig to store my salt on the counter, but right now I just store it in an open bowl on the counter.

Items that are nice to have:

  • Plain Round Graduated Cutters – If you make cookies at all and don’t feel like having millions (exaggeration) of disorganized cutters invading your kitchen, this is a great simple solution. I use these for making scones, cookies, peekaboo cookies (where they are sandwiched and jam shows through), cutting fried eggs into pretty circles . . . the possibilities are endless.
  • French presscoffee grinder – I try to have as few bulky kitchen items around as possible, so for me, that means no coffee pot. I also happen to think that french press coffee with freshly ground coffee tastes exponentially better than coffee from a traditional pot.
  • Mandoline – I use this mostly for slicing onions very thin – great for french onion soup, or making pickled onions
  • Kitchenaid Mixer – Definitely not a necessity, but nice to have. A hand mixer works just fine though.
  • Digital candy thermometer – This is really only helpful if you make caramels and candies. I love it though!
  • Food processor – I had a mini one for a long time and I thought it was perfect since we didn’t have a lot of storage space. I used it to make hummus mostly. Now that we have a bit more storage, I have a full size one and I use it to grate cheese, chop veggies when I don’t feel like doing it by hand . . .
  • Silpat – If you like to bake, this item is revolutionary. Nothing sticks to it. It’s a good replacement for parchment paper when using cookies. It’s perfect for making candy too.

Things I would like to add to my kitchen:

  • Cast iron double sided grill pan – Perfect for making paninis, grilling chicken, making burgers, pancakes, eggs. I great substitute for a grill if you
  • Fluted graduated cookie cutters – Just a little embellishment to the standard circles. I can see many pretty scones being made from these.
  • Dutch oven – This is one of those items that I know people swear by. . .
  • Stainless steel pots and pans – I have been wanting to move away from our non-stick pans for awhile. I keep hearing about the dangers of the chemicals in the coatings, not to mention how superior these pans are for making pan sauces. Those little brown bits of deliciousness just don’t form the same way in non-stick.
  • Butter Bell – I just think this thing is dang cool. It keeps your butter fresh and at room temperature – perfect for spreading.
  • Attachments for my Kitchenaid mixer – especially the pasta attachments which in turns makes me want a drying rack for the pasta.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s an ongoing journey trying to figure out what is needed in a kitchen and what is just excess.

What is your favorite kitchen item?

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6 Comments

  1. Posted April 19, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink | Reply

    I was reading this and checking off what I have in my kitchen. There are definitely things I would add though…like the salt pig. I am dying for one of those.

    With that said my favorite kitchen item is my dutch oven. I LOVE IT!!

    • Elizabeth
      Posted April 19, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink | Reply

      Someday I will have a dutch oven. . . somday. . . 🙂

  2. Katie Rice
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hooray for new pots and pans! I love my dutch oven too. I just got one last Christmas from Target and it works just fine. This post made me miss you. I am not sure why this one over others, but it did. Happy Monday friend!

  3. Gilmore Girl
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink | Reply

    I have two Rachel Ray dutch ovens from Bed Bath and Beyond and they are WONDERFUL. But, my favorite items are my Henckels ever-sharp knives. They don’t need to be sharpened, and they cut ever-so-smoothly. 🙂 -Stephani

  4. Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    Wahoo!! I am so excited about this post!

  5. Sheri
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My favorite is my little hand cheese grater. I use it all of the time.

    I totally want an immersion blender. Yes, that should be on my Christmas list.

    Great list!!

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