Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Workhorses of My Kitchen

Marissa asked for the top ten items I can't live without in the kitchen. It's hard to reduce to ten, but I'll share my opinions on what you really need.

If you take a look at my lemon butter post, you'll see pictures of my ancient food processor. I don't know how anyone cooked before the advent of the food processor, but it's a can't live without item for me. Ditto for the Kitchenaid mixer. Mine is a pretty stainless steel and was a wedding gift from my mother.  The other item that's a can't live without is the cast iron skillet.  Mine is on the small side.  I'll probably get a bigger one at some point.  Lodge now sells them "pre-seasoned" so it is a completely idiot-proof proposition.  One more thing not pictured below is the half sheet pan.  I think the brand is Lincoln and this is something you want to pick up at Restaurant Supply.  Don't waste your time with the goofy cookie sheets they sell at big box retailers.

I have an entire drawer devoted to the following items.  They are the workhorses of my kitchen.  I have little patience for specialty hand tools, when this small cast does just about everything you need to do.

The superstars:
  • rubber spatulas in a couple of sizes
  • whisks in a couple of sizes AND a balloon whisk
  • assorted wooden spoons
  • tongs (short and long) buy the heavy ones that can be clamped closed for storage. 

The supporting cast of hand tools here.  I'm not going to catalogue them.  Questions?:

At some point it's time to cut it up.  You don't have to spend a lot of money on knives, but you need the right knives.  I don't believe in sets.  Buy them one piece at a time.  I've had many of these for around fifteen years and they were mostly purchased at restaurant supply stores when I was starting culinary school.  Personally, I'm not a fan of Henkels.  If you want to spend the money, buy Wustof.  If you don't, buy Forschner.  I also like Messermeister.  Quality knives should be balanced, heavy for their size and they will last a really, really long time.

I already mentioned the cast iron skillet.  Additionally, I have two small sets of cookware.  One is copper and one is All-Clad.  One of the most important things to look for when you shop for these are that they should be heavy for their size.

There are two major items missing from my kitchen at this time.  An enameled cast iron dutch oven and a large (12 qt) stockpot.

Part of the fun of fitting out your kitchen is that you are never done!  I always see things I want and that would presumably make my life easier, but if you start with the basics and avoid the silly things, then you can still put just about anything together.  Not having every gadget in Sur La Table hasn't stopped me yet!


  1. I saw this and thought it was the *coolest* kitchen gadget ever. Also thought Yo Yo may like it to aid in his drink preparations as he is the bar tender of the family. stocking stuffer, perhaps?


  2. Thanks for sharing the stuff that makes all the yummy things that you post on this blog and share in your home! Love that the workhorses are a collection of your history!

  3. I cook using All-Clad pans too. My life changed the day I started using them!