Let's talk kitchens, shall we? Or rather... kitchen tools.
I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen. Three square meals a day x 7+, baby. I discovered a looooooooooonnnng time ago that having the right tools can make the work downright pleasant. I was asked recently what are some of the best kitchen splurges a new bride should stock her kitchen with and it got me inspired to look around at what I most appreciate.
Ironically, almost everything in the picture above I have only recently gotten within the past year or so. Most of the items in the picture were gifted to me by a sister in law who also loves to cook. (Everyone should have a Holly in their lives.) But they all *spark joy*, Marie.
I'll tell you about the things in the picture and then share some treasures that are too used and utilitarian to be photo worthy after that.
Warning: With the exception of things given to me by above stated sister in law, I have nothing top of the line except my dehydrator...which I could only afford after getting a huge tax return. I lean toward cheap, always. Second hand will do, cast offs are even better.
Here we go:
Last Christmas, my sister in law gave me two gorgeous turquoise enamel coated cast iron dutch oven/pots.. And my world was rocked. Using them for cooking things LITERALLY makes me happier. They cook things so awesomely, can be used on the stove top and then transferred to the oven without switching pans, hold a lot more food than just a cast iron skillet and the very, very, very best part? When the food is done and I have to call to the four winds to find children and husband to gather 'round the table, and it takes 15 minutes for them to find their way to the table... the food is still HOT. They also work great if you are taking a meal to someone or to a Thanksgiving dinner. There have been plenty of nights where I was madder than a hornet that I had slaved away to make a good meal just to have to eat it cold or reheat it before even taking a bite because I couldn't find everyone to sit and eat. Not since these beauties.
Along the same vein- cast iron
. I use cast iron for almost all of my cooking. It is fabulous. When I was a young bride who didn't know much I swore by teflon. Now as a seasoned cook, I'll stick with seasoned cookware. ;-) I have normal round cast iron skillets to use for meals but I bought a square cast iron pan
at a yard sale for $2.00 once upon a time and it is my favorite one to use when you don't need a large quantity at once... like making batch after batch of sunny side up eggs or grilled cheese. It is amazing to use for hot dips. It is a perfect size for the stove and doesn't crowd other burners like the big round ones do and it isn't as heavy to pour out, more or wash either. So cast iron, definitely. And if you can find a square one- snatch it up!
A two tiered serving stand. Any will do. I use them not just for pretty presentations at parties, but easy access to ripening cherry tomatoes, garlic, peppers, herbs, clementines, strawberries- or anything I want to snatch up quickly and not crush. It is as utilitarian as it is aesthetically beautiful and mine are never tucked away in a cupboard.
Any pretty wooden utensils
are a must, in my opinion. But most recently, I discovered the joy of a ladle with a hook
. I bought a two pack to give as Christmas presents and then wound up keeping one of them for myself. Because I am greedy, that's why. I still can't believe it has taken me 18 years to figure out that ladles should have hooks at the end. No more ladles falling in the pot. I suppose a long handled ladle would work too...but I don't have one of those yet.
A long pizza cutter
. We make pizza at least once a week here but I use this pizza cutter for much more than just pizza. Cut biscuits, breads, rolls with it. Or brownies. Or Granola bars. I even use it to scrape the dough/flour scraps from the counter. Just a super handy thing.
Speaking of pizza- my all time favorite pizza pans are the ones with holes in them
. But maybe that's because I don't have a cast iron one yet. HA!
The last thing pictured is a danish dough hook
. For years, a wooden spoon worked fine. But then, I was given this dough hook and I realized dough making doesn't have to be just 'fine'. Making dough has the potential to be FABULOUS. But you need this dough hook.
Other ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS in my kitchen (that are too well used to be pretty):
~ A stand mixer. I bought mine used from a friends mother more than a decade ago for a song. Mine is almost shot from wear. It makes weird noises every time I use it now. (I blame it on the butter making.) But when it finally bites the dust, I know that as expensive as they are... I am going to be saving my pennies to replace it. STAT. Until then, I cross my fingers and hope it isn't today.
~ A heavy bottomed stock pot
~ a good food processor. These are crazy handy for chopping and shredding. Coleslaw becomes one of the easiest side dishes to make in the world. Saurkraut. Salsa. Hashbrowns. Guacamole. Even shredding cheese you buy in blocks. You're welcome.
~ an ice cream maker. I have this one and bought a separate
~ a crockpot
~ a fryer (because, DONUTS. And fair food.)
~ large stainless steel bowls.
I have all sorts of big bowls- some ginormous like 30 qt. sized. Some more reasonable at 13 or 16 qts. For canning and baking any quantity of food, these are important. Also- for eating copious amounts of popcorn.
~ a pressure canner.
If you are just starting out with canning- go with the pressure canner. You want to buy that new. And you can still water bath can in it. Later, you can always find an enamel water bath canner at a yard sale- I see them all the time. But by then, you may decide you can just keep water bathing in the pressure canner.
~ Canning Jar lifters and funnels
are an absolute must with canning. I have two. Because, like scissors and nail clippers, they disappear JUST the minute you need them.
~ a food dehydrator
. If you will just be dabbling with dehydrating, you can go with the Walmart special and it will suit you. They are almost always around at Christmas time for gifting, so now is your chance! If you are SERIOUS about dehydrating... this one is the real deal
I've heard great things about things like Instapots but since I don't own 'em, I can't vouch for them.
What did I miss? What are your most used kitchen tools? And what things do you LOVE?