I think it is safe to say that the kitchen is where I spend the majority of my time. Even if you are not a lover of the culinary arts, you gotta eat so chances are you spend a fair amount of time there yourself. I want to tell you about some of my favorite kitchen purchases.
I’m not into the one-trick-pony gadgets. “Less is more” is generally my mindset when it comes to stuff. Why own a garlic peeler when you can smash a clove with the flat side of your knife and pull the paper right off? One less thing to wash, store, look for, etc. I’m not going to give you a list of “must haves” for operating a kitchen. I think you are smart enough to figure out the basics.
I am talking about the ones I smile about every time I use them because I think “man, I am so glad I bought this!” Every one of these is a great value, and have longevity and practicality on their side. In other words, you will use them multiple times a week and won’t need to replace them for a very long time. They are also all affordable. Excited yet? Ok, it’s possible I’m a special kind of nerd.
These are so delightfully colorful that you kinda want to eat them. The best part is that these little gems don’t fade, melt, warp, or stain. Silicone is incredibly heat and stain resistant. They are dishwasher safe. My ideal cooking spoon. Firm enough to scrape the brown bits of food off the bottom of your pan as you deglaze it, but soft enough to tap on the side of a pot without so much as a reverberation. Seriously, you will want one in every color.
Everyone has measuring spoons, but these are brilliantly long and narrow which makes them perfect for dipping directly into your spice jars. They have a convenient 3/4 teaspoon measure. They also meet my standard for being crafted from a single piece of steel, rather than a handle joined to a scoop, which will not come apart over time.
Available in 3 sizes (Prep, Utility, and Cutting/Carving) these boards range from $8.95 to $24.95. Rubber sides keep them from sliding on your countertop. A groove around the perimeter collects any juices that may be running out of whatever you are cutting. They are dishwasher safe and stain resistant. I have three in constant rotation and I am amazed and how good they still look! America’s Test Kitchen also rated this as their “affordable choice” for a cutting board, in a list of several they tested.
4. Salt Cellar/Box
For something you should be accessing repeatedly, each time you cook, it gosh darn better be handy! Don’t hide that salt in a cabinet, or make it a labor to extract by keeping it in a mill or a shaker. For the sake of flavorful food, just put mounds of it in a cute little salt box, so it is ever at your beck and call. Whether you want a teeny pinch or a generous palmful, it is conveniently acquired with a salt cellar next to the stove. A salt cellar isn’t just about convenience either. Half of cooking is knowing how to properly season your food. You can so much more effectively gauge the amount of salt you are adding to a dish by feeling it in your hand. Shaking it out or grinding it completely disconnects you from how much is going into your food. Trust me on this one. Buy a salt cellar and you will be seasoning like a pro in no time.
I love this farmhouse style salt and pepper cellar. It holds a large quantity so I don’t have to refill it often, and I can throw it in the dishwasher. (P.S. It is much paler cream than the picture portrays)
I think this mock-vintage one is cute too. There are so many salt boxes out there, so have fun finding one unique and perfect for you.
We all have those days when we need to boil noodles, bake a cake and roast vegetables all at once. The OXO timer makes that a little less hectic. It offers 3 different timers that can be used simultaneously, each with a unique beeping sound. It sits at an angle so it is easy to read, and works as a clock when the timer is not being used.
If you don’t have a digital kitchenscale, this will revolutionize your recipe work. It weighs up to 11 pounds of ingredients. It allows you to be super accurate when baking. It also means fewer dirty dishes! That little button that says “Tare” means you can measure 8 oz of flour, then hit TARE and add 4 oz of brown sugar, then TARE again and add 6 oz of milk, etc. Just be sure to have a conversion cheat sheet handy, because 1 dry cup doesn’t always equal 8 oz.
This app allows all your recipes to be in one place, organized how you want, edited with your modifications and even your own photos if you want. You can manually type a recipe, download a recipe from a webpage or quickly import entire Pinterest boards of recipes! It also has a recipe scale button so you can easily cut a recipe in half or triple it! You can create an unlimited number of personalized tags to organize your recipes in easy-to-find categories. Everything is synced to a website so you can always access your recipes using a desktop computer. You can also carry everything over if you get a new phone. Try ChefTap for free with up to 100 recipes, and if you love it, upgrade to the very affordable membership.
I love the taste and the look of grilled food— you can’t beat those char lines on a piece of meat. But grills are expensive. They can also be a hassle to use and if you happen to live anywhere other than Florida, the season to use them is significantly shortened.
Let me introduce you to the indoor grill. This cast-iron-wonder imparts similar (but not identical) grill flavor and beautiful char lines. It sits right over your stove burners (electric stoves too) and does its magic. This grill provides a nice, big surface area that makes cooking long, awkward items like pork tenderloin a cinch. It’s also pretty easy to care for. There is a learning curve when it comes to cast-iron care, but once you master it you will love babying it. I basically scour it with kosher salt and a wad of aluminum foil, and then throw it on medium heat and wipe the excess oil with a towel.
Nothing makes you feel more like a pro in the kitchen than a quality knife. If you have ever wondered why you can’t seem to slice and dice with ease like they do on television, it may be because your knives are just not what they should be. A quality knife means it will be durable and sharp. Contrary to what you might think, a sharp knife actually means fewer kitchen accidents. Wusthof is one of best brands of knives, constructed of forged high-carbon stainless steel. You can read more about the why the craftsmanship of Wusthof knives and other forged, steel knives makes a difference.
The Cook’s knife (or Chef’s knife), is the most versatile and often used knife in the block. It’s size imparts power and confidence and makes quick work of dicing potatoes or breaking down chicken.
Starting prep work with a dull knife is like writing an essay with an unsharpened pencil. Regardless of what knife you use, hone your knives regularly! A professional chef will recommend honing before or after each use. The better your knife, the sharper it will be, and the more regularly you hone it, the sharper it will stay.
$100+ for one knife might scare you a bit, but when you consider that you are getting top-of-the-line quality and a knife style that can be used for nearly everything, it really stretches that buck.
A book might seem like an odd thing to list as a kitchen essential, but trust me on this one. Tamar Adler sweeps me off into a world of prose that makes me want to dance through my kitchen. Her writing style pulls me in and I am fixated on the possibilities she shows me within my cupboards and fridge. She will dazzle you with a entirely different approach to cooking, and your budget will be the better for it! You can read more on my love for this book in this post.
Do you have any kitchen tools you can’t live without? I would love to hear about them!