Top 10 Kitchen Must Haves

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Every cook can think of a few items that are absolutely essential in their kitchen. There is nothing worse than being in the midst of a culinary masterpiece only to discover you're missing a crucial tool. Most of the items on my list are things I started out with or grew up using, a few I acquired as I learned more about cooking and what I preferred (my kitchen scale and shears, for example). Honestly, there are countless items I would not enjoy cooking without, like parchment paper, or the pepper grinder I foraged from a thrift shop in high school after seeing one on a cooking show. But this list is my top ten- not my top 20:

1. Good, solid knives- There is nothing more disappointing than cooking with dull, bending knives. I once cooked in a kitchen where the knives were so thin and weak that the blade curved sideways as I cut through a tomato. Trying to cut carrots was terrible. Needless to say the girl hated to cook. So much time and frustration can be saved by having a great knife set in the kitchen. You don't need an expensive 12 piece set- an 8 inch chef's knife, paring knife and a serrated bread knife should suffice. Add extra pieces as needed.

2. Pots and Pans- This one is a little tricky because everyone has their own preference on what kind are the best. I bought a non-stick set nearly 7 years ago that are still going strong. In my opinion spending a little bit extra to get a sturdy set is what matters. Choose a set that has good handles, heavy bottoms for more even cooking, and tightly fitting lids. Then you can start buying more specialty pans as needed.

3. Scale (one that measures both grams and ounces)- This is one of my most used gadgets in the kitchen. Not only does it save clean up (I pour some ingredients straight from the bag or bottle), but I also know its an accurate measurement. Sticky ingredients like honey or peanut butter are so much easier to deal with! I write down measurements on the recipe as I cook, so that many of my recipes allow me to pour the ingredients right into a bowl and have little, if no extra clean up. Talk about a time saver.

4. Measuring spoons and cups- If you have a good scale you won't need these as often, but it's important to make sure you buy a set that has an accurate measurement. Novelty spoons and cups are not always spot on, which in cooking might not be a big deal, but in baking is crucial.

5. Thermometer- A good thermometer is handy for just about everything. Use it to test if your bread is baked in the middle, your meat is ready to eat, or whether your carmel needs a few more minutes.

6. Glass mixing bowls- Mixing bowls are great, and it's nice to have a few different kinds, but in my opinion glass mixing bowls take the cake. Since glass is non-reactive you don't need to worry about it effecting the flavor of whatever you're preparing or absorbing oils that will destroy your egg whites. I love bowls that have a rubber bottom so they grip the counter while you stir. This is especially handy when you need both your hands free.

7. Vegetable peeler- A good vegetable peeler is a mult-tasker. You can use it to grate decorative peels of chocolate, thin wide shavings of parmesan cheese, or remove thick peels off carrots and apples. Make sure you buy one with a comfortable handle and sharp blade as there is nothing more annoying than a vegetable peeler that skips over an apple peel or can't cut through a tough vegetable skin.

8. Flat wooden bamboo spatula/spoon- In high school I found one of these in a thrift store's kitchen section. I'd never seen a flat wooden spatula before and it quickly became my favorite kitchen utensil. It broke up hamburger like a champ, flipped pancakes, mixed cookie dough, and didn't warp like other wooden spoons. I carried it with me through every college move, leaving behind mixing bowls and can openers, but never forgetting my bamboo spatula. Needless to say I was excited when they started showing up everywhere. This is an absolute MUST.

9. Blender- From purees to pie fillings, a great blender can save serious time in the kitchen. I use my Vita-mix for just about everything- homemade peanut butter, making powdered sugar, salad dressings, pureeing soups, and everything in between.

10. Kitchen Shears- Last but definitely NOT least. I absolutely couldn't live without my kitchen shears. They make cleaning meat, opening thick packaging, and cutting up candy manageable. I can't imagine preparing my chicken without them.

Recipe Box- This one isn't totally essential, but super handy. I am guilty of stashing recipes folded away in cook books or tucked inside drawers, but it's nice to have a set place to hold your recipes. It saves searching like mad for that lost recipe Aunt Agnes gave you for her famous lemon icebox pie.

Did I miss something? What are some of your kitchen must haves?


Julie said...

My kitchen must have is Adam. :)

Seriously, we have all the same tools, minus the super fancy blender. (That is on our list for someday.) My favorite is the bamboo stick and also the scale. We have a flat glass top which I LOVE.

Miss you!

Tasha said...

Oh, I love this list. You have added some must haves to my list now. Thank you!!

Heather M. said...

You mentioned all my truly necessary items. But for me, I also need my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, garlic press (it's easier for me than smashing it with a knife, and I can avoid the lingering garlic smell on my hands), and silicone spatulas, which I use for almost everything I cook. Oh, and love my microplane grater, too. :)

Holly Moore said...

Heather those would have TOTALLY made my top 20. I use those all the time too! Funny you mentioned your garlic press. I got rid of mine because I didn't use it all that often and it was kind of bulkily designed. I have been thinking about investing in a good one recently. Any suggestions?

Colleen said...

Great list. I agree with everything. I also love my silicon spatulas. They are so versatile. And my Cutco peeler. It's the best.

Jen Scott said...

Cheese pampered chef microwave veggie steamer...and I love those little balls that smell lemony that you put in the disposal.

Dude... Come play some time!

Kristy said...

Hi Holly! I loved your cooking list. I agree on everything you put there. I just need a darn scale! It's on our list. Have you ever tried Tom and I are obsessed. You might like it, but it does have a stinkin membership fee. Happy cooking!

Holls said...

YAY! I found your blog too! Can't wait to blog stalk you too ;) This post is very informative and I thank you for it! :)

Jen and Marty said...

Hey Holly. Just checking in on you...where are you? Hope things are going okay. Be thankful for beautiful CA weather, we are FREEZING here in Utah today! Have a great day.
Jen Paris