08 January 2010

Kitchen Essentials.

Or, so I think.

I've found I love to cook. I mean really, there's nothing like it. It's so rewarding to put the time and effort into piecing together a meal and sitting down to truly enjoy it...devouring every crumb...til the taste is merely a memory...but a memory you will relish in.

Mmm...this is making me hungry.

Anyhow, as I've slowly begun to build my confidence and my skill level (I mean, a year ago I knew next to nothing about cooking and baking), I've discovered there are several items housed in my pantry that I simply couldn't do without.

You will find these great contraptions below.

a. Whustof pull-apart shears, $19.95, Williams-Sonoma.
Couldn't imagine cooking without these. Super handy when it comes to cutting chicken, tough red meat, veggies...anything really. I also keep a cheap Target pair in the drawer for opening food packaging, etc. Save the good ones for actually cutting food.

b. Le Creuset Dutch Ovens, Williams-Sonoma, starting at $185 a piece.
Expensive, yes. Worth it? Absolutely. So handy. So durable. So fun. Will last forever. They do wonders on the stove top, but are also oven safe and make fabulous serving pieces since they retain heat so well.

c. white and blue porcelain measuring spoons, $15, Brooklyn Farm General Store.
mine came from Anthropologie, but they no longer carry them. Surprisingly durable. Amazingly cute. Just one of those things that makes me want to use them.

d. color-coded flexible cutting mats, set of four, $16, Sur La Table.
Clearly labeled as to avoid cross-contamination. Extremely flexible and light-weight for easy cleaning and storage. I love my wooden cutting boards, but with these I don't have to worry about bacteria sinking into the pores.

e. All-Clad Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, $30, Williams-Sonoma.
I'll have these babies forever, as they will last forever. And you don't have to worry about them warping in the dishwasher.

f. dual-ended spatuala, Target, $9.99
Love this tool. Two spatualas in one. So easy to use. Even easier to wash. Fun colors. Love it.

g. Whustof Classic 8" Chef's Knife, $139.95, Williams-Sonoma.
If there's one thing I'm glad we splurged on, it's our knives. Hard-as-rock potatoes don't stand a chance next to this German-engineered piece of steel. I use to prepare nearly every dish I make.

h. 10-piece glass bowl set, $38, Williams-Sonoma.
So this is the set that inspired my whole post. I could not imagine kitchen life without these. So easy to store, as they all stack together. 10 super-handy sizes, ranging from teenie tiny to a large mixing bowl. This week I cooked a meal in which I used 8 of the 10. They're so useful to organize all your ingredients while you prepare, and to mix in, of course. These will forever be a pantry staple in my kitchen.

i. Le Creuset 12" cast-iron frypan, $135, Williams-Sonoma.
My dad gifted this to me and Corey for our wedding, in hopes that we would have a lifetime of wonderful meal prep in the kitchen. (His one word of advice to me was to marry a man that loves to cook, in which I did, of course). And, Dad would be happy to know this pan has already brought us great joy and delicious meals. I cook everything in it. My gorgeous stainless steel frypan stays in the cupboard. I prefer the durability of this one, not to mention it's natural non-stick qualities.

j. KitchenAid 5-speed blender, $129.99, Macys.
I've yet to purchase a food-processor, mostly because this guy handles everything I need. I love it. It purees, it liquifies, it chops ice, it simply mixes or stirs. It's amazing. I pureed soup in it this week. I will chop black beans and other veggies in it tonight. And I am forever making smoothies in it. It's so fast and precise. I'm obssessed.

k. Kuhn Rikon Paring Knife, $12, Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table.
Maybe I love it because mine is bright green. Yes, even the blade is bright green. Maybe I love it because it comes with a nifty blade cover for storage. Maybe I love it because it's super sharp and super easy to grip in your hand. Whatever the case, food prep wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable without this little guy. And look at all the fun colors to choose from!

So there you have it. My scaled-down version of the tools and gadgets I simply can't do without. There are more, of course, like my set of Pyrex glass baking dishes, which I am incessantly using. Or my bread knife. Or my spice measuring spoons. But really, there are only a few more. For all intensive purposes, those listed above are my absolute favorite. They are the gadgets that help make prepping and cooking meals in the Maple kitchen so much fun.

I hope you enjoyed. And I hope it was somewhat helpful. If you have any questions concerning any of the above listed and there listed, I'd be more than happy to answer them.

And one last thing...what's in your kitchen that you could never live without?
I'd so love to hear.

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