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Monday, March 25, 2013

My Essential Kitchen Tools

Last week ended up being a bit chaotic and I didn't get my anticipated recipes made.  I've covered meal planning here and here, and I got to thinking that meal planning will take a person only so far.  That there are some items that I consider essential in my kitchen - my "must" haves to make meal prep easier and smoother.   Then I thought - I've got another blog post!

Now, this is what works for me and my meal planning.  It reflects what I like, how I cook, and not what you might hear on Food Network.  Which is fine.  Everyone has different tastes and different kitchens.

I consider these My Essential Tools:

1) Two crockpots.    Yes. Two.  During the winter I use at least one weekly.  Great for get-togethers -  pre-make a chili, stew, soup, then re-heat the day of.  Pop in a chicken, pork roast, beef roast and dinner can be ready when you walk in the door after work.  Feeding a picky crowd?  One can be for our meat lovers, one can be your vegetarians.  Great for breakfast dishes, lunches, dinners, dessert and beverages!   Don't want to warm up the kitchen in the summer time by turning on the stove - use a crockpot!  Nuff said.  Get thee a crockpot. 

2) Kitchenaid Immersion Blender.   Nothing, and I say nothing can out do a good quality immersion blender for meal prep.  Stop trying to puree soups with a hand blender or worse (in my opinion) a blender.   This little gadget can whip egg whites, puree soups, blend roasted vegetables, you name it.  On this one (linked above) the blender stick disengages from the motor stick for super easy cleanup.  Just make sure your pot or mixing bowl is deep enough so you're not cleaning soup off your walls....just sayin....

3) Microplane grater.   This simple little tool can do so much!  This is my go-to anytime I need 'diced' or 'chopped' garlic or ginger root.  I personally detest chopping garlic, and this gadget walks the line between diced and smashed, which I prefer for my dishes.  Zip! Zip! Zip! with the little grater box and wah-la! Fragrant shaved garlic.  Works good for freshly grated nutmeg and parmesan cheese.  Does a lovely orange, lemon and lime zest. Rinse off reside immediately tho, otherwise can be a bit hard to clean. 

4) Kitchenaid Stand Mixer.  I don't do a tremendous amount of baking, but we do like to make homemade bread.  A Kitchenaid stand mixer has become one of my kitchen must-haves.  From whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, to whipping egg whites, to the first knead on a loaf of bread, the power and hands-free capability of this machine is really a must.  I keep this in a corner, out of the way and covered with a nice floursack towel.  It's right there when I need it and easy to put away.   Mine is just the very basic model and it's worked well.

5) Oxo kitchen scale.  I actually have two scales.  The Oxo electronic, then an older basic scale.  I've come round to the opinion that recipes should be given in weights.  It's so much easier!  Really!  Scoop, weigh, dump.  Done.  Think about this - when a recipe asked for 1 large zucchini (or onion, or squash, etc), just how how large are they talking about?  Midwest large?  Professional chef large?   A scale also makes baking more accurate, a feature I've come to appreciate when baking bread.

6) Cast iron pans.  Several years ago I made the switch from teflon coated "non-stick" cookware to cast iron.  I have had NO regrets in doing so!  These are so much more versatile, able to go from stove top to oven or vise-versa, more non-stick than most non-stick/Teflon than I've owned and sturdy.  Downside - a bit more care is needed post-washing, to keep the seasoning up to snuff, they are heavy, handles can get hot, and they are not appropriate for glass cooktops (to my knowledge).   I cook on gas, so not a problem there.  Since I don't have a dishwasher, wash by hand and re-heat on the stove to quickly dry.  A bit of canola oil to re-season and I'm good to go for the next time.  I own 2 - 12" skillets, 2 -10" skillets, 1 - 8" skillet, 1 - 6" skillet and a dutch oven.   If you are a savvy shopper, you can also pick these up at garage sales/estate sales/auctions for super cheap and often a better quality than what's on the market.

Mine is all white and about 10 yrs old.
8) Cuisinart Blender/Food Processor combo.  This has been mainstay in my kitchen ever since I received it as a gift.  The three cup food processor is a perfect size for me for sauces, crumb toppings, salsas, and other miscellaneous food prep things that just can't be done with an immersion blender.  The blender is used weekly to make my Green Smoothies for breakfast...and the occasional watermelon margarita.

7) My Teapot and Cusinart Electric kettle!  We drink tea.  A lot of tea.  An electric kettle is a must in my house. 

Those are the big items I can think of.  Some small ones:
2 or more sets of measuring cups and spoons.  I have three of each.
a BIG stockpot.  Yeah, I've had to dump dinner from my large saute pan into the large stockpot more than once... And flat wooden spoons for stove top stirring. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would love to have a crockpot, but I've had SUCH bad luck with the last two, that I'm afraid of getting another one.

Love my microplane and I REALLY couldn't do without my KA mixer. It is a workhorse!

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