Even with cooking most days, I find I tend to use the same instruments pretty frequently. Here’s a little list of some of the things I find most useful, not including staples like can openers and measuring cups/spoons.
You’ll note that my beloved Kitchenaid is not on there. Especially since I make my pizza and bread dough by hand, I really don’t use it much for cooking, and mostly just for baking.
Another glaring omission: my food processor. Reason? I forgot. Until after I’d put everything together, and it was nearly midnight. I’m sorry. But just know – I LOVE MY FOOD PROCESSOR. I had (have) a mini prep that, for years, I thought to be sufficient (and it it is perfect for pesto and such). But my food processor! I just got it maybe 6 months ago and it has improved the quality of my kitchen life immeasurably. Grating cheese? A breeze. Putting together a quick pie dough when I don’t feel like crumbling the butter by hand? Takes two seconds. It’s the best.
Without further disclaiming, the top 10 essentials of my vegetarian kitchen:
1. Wusthof Santoku Knife – If I could pick only one kitchen item to keep, it would be this knife. Although I have several other excellent knives, this is the one I reach for 90% of the time. If you only have one knife, get a great chef’s knife. Beyond that, I’m rather fond of my small serrated knife, paring knife, and bread knife, all from Cutco. I also love this big ole cutting board from Ikea. Plenty of room for all my veggies and all the scraps.
2. A Roasting Pan (I think this one is pretty, although mine is some random old metal one) – Not just for carnivores. Because what else do you do with all those random CSA veggies but roast them to death?
4. A Microplane Grater – Grating cheese is, by far, my least favorite kitchen task. I loathe it. The good stuff always breaks and you always have that little nubby end and always are thisclose to tearing apart your fingers. I finally got one of these about a year ago and I still don’t like it, but it is SO much more tolerable.
5. A Large Pot – Nothing is worse than realizing halfway through cooking that your pot is too small. This All-Clad 4-qt. one is almost always big enough and has been my bread and butter. It is almost always the one I reach for and still looks brand new. It’s the best.
6. A Cast Iron Pan (similar to ours) – A random old cast iron is one of the very few kitchen things that survived from Dan’s bachelor days. The great thing about cast irons is that they need not be fancy or expensive. Any cheapo version is probably fine if you season it well yourself, and they just get better and smoother with age. I love our 12″ one, and it’s great as a nonstick pan or for caramelizing onions or, my favorite, for making crispy grilled cheese.
7. Kitchen Shears – Not sure where kitchen shears had been all my life, but they come in handy in so many ways I never realized. Cutting up clementines for the baby, cutting greens/herbs, etc. etc.
8. Spatulas (don’t you love the yellow?)- Somehow, no matter how many I have, I never have enough spatulas. I love having a big ole wide one for flipping things, a metal one for heavier duty jobs, a small cookie one, and several silicone ones for stirring and sauteeing various veggies (I prefer the inflexible ones to the bendy ones both for veggies and baking).
9. Blender and Immersion Blender – Look, if you made me choose, the immersion blender will always win. It’s just the best for soups and that’s slightly more important than smoothies. BUT! We make a lot of smoothies and I don’t really prefer making them in single serve portions. So I looove having a really terrific blender, as well. We had that immersion blender up until a few months ago when it gave up the ghost and we got a slightly cheaper model of the same brand. It’s WAY less powerful and I will probably go back to my beloved standby soon enough here.
10. Slow Cooker – My fave. Love her. Also, loved paying $20 at Target on Black Friday for it.
What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?