Friday, May 24, 2013

My Favorite Kitchen Essentials

In a 'real foods' kitchen where meals are made from scratch, there are many essential tools I use pretty much every day that make food prep faster, easier, and a lot more efficient. I sometimes take it for granted, but every time I visit someone and use their knives, can openers, or dish washing sponge - I realize what gems I've found to use in our kitchen! 

These items are either really good or simply amazing and I never regret having spent money on them. In my photo (top to bottom) you can see some of the items that are on the list, followed by other favorites not pictured.
  1. Breville Ikon Stainless Electric Tea Kettle: We love drinking tea and actually haven't had a coffee maker in our house in over 5 years. We've had this one for over four years, best decision ever after burning one stove top tea kettle. I love that it doesn't have an exposed heating element for mineral deposits to get stuck on. With a flat, stainless interior base it is really easy to clean. At just under $80 I feel that the quality is there, it's lasted us a while and shows no signs of giving up. Breville also makes the much more expensive One-Touch Tea Maker that I think is awesome and our friends love, but it is over $240 [gasp!]. It heats to precise temperatures for different types of tea - for gourmet tea drinkers!

  2. Flour Sack Towels: These cotton flour sack towels have so many uses around the home, but in the kitchen they are simply magical for straining and I've used them for my farmer's cheese recipe. They are also great for drying dishes, which I usually don't bother with unless I'm putting away the nice 'guest dishes' and don't want water spots on them. They aren't very cheap for under $15 for four towels, but reasonable. For some reason they remind me of my Culinary Arts class and France!

  3. Goodbye Detergent Spaghetti Scrub: We don't use a dishwasher and I always thought there is no other way to wash dishes other than with a sponge or cloth. Then I got one of these spaghetti scrubs and I'm telling you, there is no going back! I never liked sponges to begin with. Even when wrung out and left to dry, they would get smelly fast -yuckiness. Not to mention we were spending too much money constantly replacing them. I've used one spaghetti scrub for a year before switching to a new one - and it still looked almost like new! It scrubs very gently, so it never scratched my non-stick ceramic and our dish-washing soap use went way down since it really only needs detergent for extra greasy pans and dishes.

  4. IKEA Tea Infuser: We really enjoy loose leaf tea, but I don't enjoy brewing a whole tea pot just for the two of us. That's where these handy tea infusers come in. Just big enough to brew a cup of tea. It's just a perfect little gadget and has never failed, plus the price can't be beat at $1.99.

  5. Kuhn Rikon Can Opener: I've discovered this dream can opener when I still lived with my parents, I think my mom bought it at Marshalls. When I got married and saw all the cheap, pseudo can openers that didn't work, I went on a quest to find one of these for our kitchen! I was excited when I finally found one - best can opener ever! It leaves smooth, child-safe edges on the can. That alone is priceless. Totally worth the $14.

  6. Cutco Knives: These are an absolute must have in our kitchen. I've tried many knives. Expensive ones. Nothing compares to Cutco and nothing can compare to their lifetime guarantee and free sharpening for life. I know people who have been using them for 30, 40+ years and they still are good as new. You get what you pay for! It's just such a pleasure working with them, I realize that every time I use some other brand at someone else's house and I wonder how in the world anything can get done in a kitchen with dull knives.

  7. Bamboo Cutting Boards: Plastic cutting boards harbor bacteria, bamboo and wood ones do not. I love my bamboo cutting board and use it every day. It's held up well to rigorous use. There are a ton available on the market, so I would just go by online user reviews of particular brands, some are better than others. I also love my bamboo utensils, use them every day as well - they are great for being non-scratchy to keep my pans like new.

  8. Ceramic Diamond Non-stick Skillet: Literally used every day, I have peace of mind knowing there is no toxic, carcinogenic teflon in my non-stick pan. You really don't need a whole set, I find it sufficient to have one large one for everyday use and I also have the smaller non-toxic skillet for when I need two at the same time, which is rare.  

  9. KitchenAid Stand Mixer: I was really fortunate to be donated a vintage KitchenAid stand mixer and although it doesn't look up to date for the 21st century, the performance is flawless. It saves me a lot of time when making cakes, cookies, dough - all the things I used to do by hand prior to 3 years ago.

  10. Toaster Oven: Our toaster oven has seen better days, it still works but it's been through a lot! We are contemplating replacing it with a larger capacity one when/if it finally dies (probably this one). We don't have a microwave, so I use it to reheat leftovers and I often make quick dinners in it by throwing some chicken with spices inside and not having to think about when to turn it off as the timer does it for me. 
These are our essentials, things I use every day and it would be hard to do without. By no means do you need these to create meals from scratch, but it does make it easier. I will also be sharing with you my kitchen splurges and my wish list in the future! 

Now if only they made an affordable kitchen robot to make all the gourmet meals from scratch... For now we're sticking to me as the chef, it's hard to beat a meal made with love

What are your kitchen essentials?

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