My Favorite Things – Kitchen tools

A well stocked kitchen probably doesn’t really need all that much.  I come by my kitchen collecting honestly.  My mom has more measuring cups, pyrex bowls and brownie pans than your average Bed Bath & Beyond and I bet she hasn’t made brownies in a decade or more.  I inherited the mantra that if one is good four or five must be better.  I have seven colanders, all different sizes, but seven nonetheless.  It might be a sickness.

Anyway, we’ve all heard that the key to doing any job well is having the right tools.  It’s no less true in the kitchen.  This list is not an attempt to catalog my kitchen.  Just thought I’d give you an idea of the stuff I use just about every day.  I’ll add as things come to me.

Cast iron skillet – I have three in various sizes.  You can’t beat them for searing.  They have heavy bottoms so things don’t burn easily and they can go from stove top to oven and back.  Bear in mind that they heat slowly, but hold heat for a long time.  You can find really good ones at yard sales or estate sales.  There are a variety of opinions about caring for these.  I never put soap in mine.  I think it ruins the seasoning that comes with a well-loved skillet.  I boil water in the dirty skillet.  Dump the water and scrub well with a scouring sponge or vegetable brush.  Boil water in the clean skillet.  Dry the skillet over high heat.  Add a small amount of oil to warm skillet and rub in with a paper towel.  It sounds like a lot of trouble, but it really doesn’t take long at all.

Chef’s knife – I have an 8 inch Henckel Professional S that I use for nearly everything.  It’s a little longer than I need for a lot of things, but it sharpens nicely and is weighted pretty well.  When I’m ready to invest in a new one I’ll go to a knife and tool store where I can handle several and choose the one that fits me the best.  It’s worth it to spend a little money on a good knife or two.  You’d be surprised how much more fun chopping is when you have a good knife.  Safer too.

Dutch oven – Enameled cast iron is very hip these days.  Personally I love having something as functional as cast iron that comes in fantastic colors!  Can’t beat a dutch oven for braising and roasting large quantities.  Just like other cast iron it goes from stove top to oven and back.  And it has a top!  Be careful about using a metal whisk when finishing a sauce or gravy in one of these.  It will leave a mark on the enamel.

Immersion blender – I certainly don’t use this every day, but when the choice is between a $20 immersion blender or dragging out the large blender this is the clear winner.  I use it to puree soups in big pots and to make small batches of dressings and sauces.  Regular blenders aren’t really a good fit for large or small batch foods.  And the clean-up on an immersion blender is so much easier!  Look for one that has an extra container for blending and storing sauces and dressings.  It will help if it comes with a whisk attachment as well.

Mini whisk – This might seem silly, but there’s nothing better for stirring small amounts of sauces, salad dressings and slurries.  Using a large whisk in a small bowl inevitably ends in having most of your sauce on the counter.

Mixing Bowls – I have a set of 11 glass bowls, various sizes.  They go in the dishwasher.  They’re non-reactive.  They don’t stain.  They’re heavy enough to stay put for stirring with one hand.

If you have a stand mixer, like a Kitchen Aid, get a second bowl.  It’s very helpful when you’ve got whipped cream in one and find that you need to mix the mashed potatoes.

Reamer – If you ever use fruit juice for cooking or cocktails you’ll need a reamer.  There’s just no way to squeeze hard enough to get all the juice out.  I have a simple wooden, hand held reamer.  The glass ones that sit on the counter are nice too since they catch the seeds.

Saute pan – If you have any interest in making pan sauces you’ll need a good saute pan.  It should have a heavy botton and heat evenly.  A copper bottom is your best bet.  My favorite is the 10 inch All Clad Cop-R-Chef fry pan.  While cast iron skillets do a nice job with a saute they can turn pan sauces dark so it’s worth the investment to get a good stainless saute pan.

Silicone spatula – Rubber spatulas have been around for a while.  They are the enemy of any kid who likes to lick the bowl when brownies, cookies or cakes have been mixed.  Well, a silicone spatula is even better (or worse if you’re that kid).  The head is considerably stiffer so it works better in most cases, especially if you’re working with a heavy batter or icing.  Just remember to leave a little in the bowl and on the beaters for your junior helpers.

Wooden spoons – You can’t have too many of these.   Get several handle lengths.  They’re safe on any surface.  If you have nice ones wash them by hand.  If you get cheap ones you can put them in the dishwasher.  When they get ratty, since they’re wooden, you can throw them on the compost pile.

One Response to “My Favorite Things – Kitchen tools”

  1. Evelyn Says:

    I have three cast iron skillets too and one with wedge shaped dividers that I use for making cornbread. One can never have too many kitchen tools!

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