So for this Thursday 13, I thought about my essential kitchen tools. In a couple weeks, I'll share my favorite frivolous-but-fun gadgets (yes, the ice cream maker is absolutely in there).
1. Chef's knife. Good knives make SUCH a difference in the kitchen. I do most of my chopping and slicing with this chef's knife. It's decently heavy and quite sharp. (Note that there are many types of knives... from long serrated bread slicers to tiny paring knives. This one I find to be the most all-purpose and it gets the most use from me.)
|More on knives here.|
3. 12-inch nonstick frying pan with some heft. Whereas a lot of tools you can get on the cheap, one area not to skimp is in the pan arena. A heavier pan makes ALL the difference in how food turns out. For example, this $50 Calphalon non-stick (a middling price point) is reliable on the stove, heats evenly and is my workhorse. You can get comparably sized pans for much cheaper but if they seem as thin as tin foil, you're going to have more trouble producing well-cooked meals. Nonsticks always seem to need replacing after awhile, but to give you an idea of value... I bought this sucker on Amazon more than five years ago and I'm just now thinking of replacing it.
|I use the 12-inch nonstick habitually, but also have other pan favs like a 12-inch All Clad stainless steel jobber (beautiful!), a nonstick grill pan, and a flat griddle.|
|Pictured is a really old Calphalon hard-anodized saucepan. We also have a couple larger stainless steel types, but I admit favoring these oldies because they tolerate the dishwasher.|
6. Measuring spoons. I use these suckers all. the. time. So much so that I have two sets. For complex recipes, I might use both so I can save time on washing mid-meal-making.
|Measuring spoons are particularly important when baking where ingredient quantities need to be precise. I also use them to dole out oil for frying as when I eyeball it, I add way too much!|
8. Veggie steamer. I know a lot of people who hate cooked vegetables. And I would too if "cooked" meant "mushy." To me, a good cooked veggie has a bit of bite left to it... at least where broccoli, carrots, beans and the like are concerned. The best investment I made for cooking veggies was a steamer pan. This Calphalon creation cooks veggies evenly and I use it several times a week. Plus, the pot does double duty for other cooking purposes like boiling potatoes or simmering soup.
|There are also handy steamer "inserts" that you can buy and use with pans you already possess.|
|I use the two middle sizes most every day.|
|No vampires will ever visit the Redden household. Too much garlic here.|
|I used to have Martin, the tortoise, and I didn't realize how much I took his veggie-scrap eating for granted until he stopped living with us!|
|This 8 or 10 quart pot is a good size for boiling spaghetti noodles and single pots of soup. I also have a gigantor 20-quart stockpot for making big batches of soup or sauce.|
|I also use "jelly roll" pans quite a bit. See here.|
13. Vegetable peeler. When I thought about my cooking habits, I was surprised to note how much I use this humble vegetable peeler. For carrots, potatoes, ginger, lemon zest... you name it.
|This OXO type is of middling quality. Don't cheap out too much though... Poor quality peelers will take a lot longer to do the job, and may end up mashing your food instead of peeling it.|
- The Case for Cooking