13 KITCHEN TOOLS EVERY SELF-RESPECTING COOK NEEDS.

 

 

 

There are a few things that everyone needs in the kitchen. I shall refer to these things as the basics. I shall also be very formal and use words like “shall”.  You know the kind of things that I’m talking about—they’re the basic kitchen tools even a frat boy would probably have in his dorm room if he happens to be in culinary school. The basics are a whisk, a wooden spoon, measuring cups, measuring spoons, Pyrex bowl, baking sheet, pots, non-stick pan, spatula, and a slotted spoon.  If you don’t own the basics you probably don’t own a kitchen either so you can disregard this post and get back to foraging in the woods, gnawing mushrooms right off of the side of a tree.

These 13 tools are the next step in the kitchenry hierarchy. These are the things that are BEYOND the basics.  They’re things you should have, but maybe don’t. Today is the day you turn the corner from frat-boy kitchen stumbler to home chef.

We shall commence.

1) The Foodsaver

The Foodsaver is a small machine that sucks—I mean that in the kindest way, of course. Basically you shove your food in a Foodsaver bag, shove the Foodsaver bag into the machine and it sucks all the air out of it.

This way you can go to Costco, muscle your way past all the plebes buying individual steaks, head straight to the whole Beef Tenderloin section and head out the door. When you get home with your big hunk of expensive meat, you freeze it for a little bit to make it easier to work with, cut it into individual steaks and then Foodsaver them. Just like I showed you in this post.  Pop ’em in the freezer for later use. I usually get about 12–14 steaks from a $90 tenderloin. That averages out to around $6-7 per thick, ready-to-be-perfectly-seared, succulent morsels of meat.

You can Foodsaver anything really, but using it for freezing meat is where it earns it’s place in my already overcrowded kitchen cupboards. I actually banished my breadmaker to the basement to make room for it. You can also order attachments for it that suck the life out of anything. A gadget that goes over mason jars makes marinating meat disgustingly gory, but really fast and effective. Another attachment sucks the air out of wine bottles so you can continue to serve that crappy bottle of homemade wine someone gave you for months on end, while you enjoy the good stuff.

I recommend the CHEAPEST Foodsaver in their line the Foodsaver V2244.  It works exactly the same as their more expensive ones and it’s smaller so it takes up less space.

2) A Costco membership

See above about the Foodsaver.  Once you get a Foodsaver you can actually portion out and freeze the pillowcase sized bag of green beans you bought.

 

 

3) A potato ricer

When I was growing up, my mother’s mother used to send her a box of unidentified stuff for Christmas. It was usually weird kitchen stuff. Being a 1950’s housewife, anything other than a wooden spoon or a bottle of Crème de Menthe meant it was weird and unidentifiable to my mother. Since she couldn’t recognize any of it, we would often make up other uses for it. The orange rind peeler became a futuristic ring, good for scratching mosquito bites for example.

Then one Christmas she got what she somehow recognized as a potato ricer. So, for the next few months, we got the gourmet version of mashed potatoes. Only my mother wasn’t exactly sure how it worked so she just smashed the potatoes through the ricer directly onto our plates. For dramatic tableside flare. That’s about the time I decided I hated potato ricers. Gross, dry, wiggly potatoes. Blech.

When I first moved into my own house and started experimenting with cooking I wanted to try a recipe that called for riced potatoes. I was unimpressed with the thought but gave them another try. My life has never been the same since and I truly believe I could end a multitude of wars with these potatoes. Maybe not religious wars, but certainly most other types. Definitely a schoolyard scuffle.

I discovered you’re supposed to rice your potatoes into a bowl, add a ginormous amount of melted butter, stir with a wooden spoon and then add in a ginormous amount of hot milk or cream. Whisk and then watch their faces light up. You can add cheddar cheese, sour cream, cream cheese or sliced green onions as well. But only if you want the person you’re serving to fall completely in love with you. Awkward at a dinner party. Otherwise, just use the butter and milk.

If that description of how to rice potatoes wasn’t good enough for you I have an ENTIRE post on how to do it.

And just like with the Foodsaver, I’ve gone through a LOT of potato ricers from the most expensive, restaurant quality ones to cheap plastic ones.  And I’ve found the very cheapest one to be the best.  I love, love, LOVE the $13 plastic Fox run potato ricer.  It also comes in metal but I haven’t tried that one so I can’t personally recommend it but I’m sure it’s great as well.

4) A really good Chef’s knife

Not much to explain here. They say a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife, but I’ve cut myself with both so, either way, be careful and don’t watch television while chopping. My personal brand of knife is the 8″ Wusfhof chef’s knife. It’s the only good knife I own. The rest are just crappy bread knifes, and one little paring knife.  And now that I think of it, I’ve somehow lost one of my bread knifes.

5) An easy-to-use knife sharpener

There’s a difference between a honing steel and a knife sharpener. You should probably own both. A knife sharpener actually reshapes the blade of your knife by cutting away bits of it. That’s what makes it sharp again. There are electric knife sharpeners and simple handheld ones that you just pass your knife through. Probably 100 passes or so if your knife is really dull.

The honing steel (or sharpening steel) is the long stick thing that you run the knife down at a 22 ½ degree angle. Whenever you watch a tv show or movie where they’re trying to make someone look like they know what they’re doing in the kitchen, they have them quickly run a knife up and down a honing steel. It doesn’t necessarily sharpen the knife, so much as gets rid of the burrs and wiggles the knife sharpener puts into it.

First you sharpen, then you use the honing steel. Then you’re supposed to cut your knife through a single piece of paper with ease. Which I have never been able to do. I don’t use much paper in my cooking anyway.

6) Butcher’s twine

You won’t need this a lot, but when you need it, you need it.   I use it mostly to tie around steaks that are a bit raggedy to keep them in shape so they cook evenly. Also to tie up roasts of all kinds. And occasionally for playing cat’s cradle.

You DON’T need to buy something specifically called Butcher’s Twine.  As with a lot of things, just calling it something special means they’re going to jack the price up.  All Butcher’s Twine is, is 100% cotton twine.  As long as you’re using 100%, unbleached, cotton twine you’re good to go.

7) Non-stick pizza pans for the BBQ

I realize that not everyone has the kind of personality that drives them to build their own pizza oven but if you love pizza you can still get that fire oven taste by cooking pizzas on your BBQ.  Seriously. All you need is a non-stick pizza pan for the BBQ.   When I bought them myself, prior to building my pizza oven, I actually said out loud in the grocery store, “this is stupid.” But sometimes there are things you have to buy on the off chance that they aren’t stupid. That they are going to work. This was one of those things. In fact, they are a bona fide miracle. If I were on better terms with the Pope I’d definitely mention these pizza pans to him.    Check out this pizza post on how to use it.

If you’re going to buy a non stick pizza pan for the BBQ you have two options.  A pizza pan WITH a long handle, or you can go with a pizza pan without a handle.    I prefer the pizza pan with the long handle, but it’s up to your own preference.

8) Mortar & Pestle

Seriously. How the hell are you going to grind your spices? For the love of God.

9) Good old fashioned cookbooks

Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook

America’s Test Kitchen’s The New Family Cookbook

Just go buy ’em. Don’t ask questions. Basic recipes like gravy, roast chicken etc. Tried and true techniques. No it’s not food porn like you might get with trendy celebrity chef cookbooks. Just no-fail recipes for the starter cook. GREAT cheese soufflé recipe in the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook by the way.

10) Pepper Grinder

Get yourself a pepper grinder because fresh cracked pepper makes everything better. Especially steaks! Trust me.  You can buy whichever one you like but the bigger it is, the less you have to fill it.  Also, if you’re buying an investment pepper grinder make sure when you flip it over, the grinding mechanism is made from steel not plastic.  In a lot of cases a pepper grinder might look really cool and probably even be expensive but it still has a plastic grinding mechanism.  Make sure you aren’t paying only for cool design, but also quality.

I use the Classic Peugeot Chateauneuf Pepper Mill with adjustable grind.

11) Cuisinox “Elite” saute pan

The number one workhorse in my kitchen is my Cuisinox “Elite” saute pan. It’s around $100. It’s hard to describe why it’s so much better than other stainless pans, but I’ll try. It cooks evenly and quickly adjusts itself to temperature. Unlike my other favourite pan, the cast iron pan, the stainless pan reacts better when you have to turn down the heat. If you’re cooking onions for instance and you suddenly realize they’re going to brown when you don’t want them to, if you turn the heat down the pan loses heat more quickly than a cast iron pan. Some might not see this as a positive, but for certain purposes, I do. It cleans easily and because of the metal handle can go from stove to oven. Food sticks enough to it to get a good sear, but it doesn’t stay stuck there forever. It’s like a perfect combination between a non stick pan and a too much stick pan. If you don’t have a good stainless pan, as soon as you can afford one … buy one.

I have the 11″ Cuisinox Elite Frypan.

12) Maldon salt

I first heard about Maldon salt several years ago from my friend Michelle. It was harder to find then, but I sussed out a box at a local specialty food store. A box about the size of a deck of cards was $10. For salt.

I’m gonna be honest with you now. I love my $10 salt. I’m going to be even more honest with you. I’m really not sure I can taste the difference between it and a regular container of sea salt, but much like my Chanel lipstick, it makes me feel good when I use it. Makes me feel special. How big of a loser do you have to be for SALT to make you feel special?

It’s a beautiful, crystal flaked sea salt that you can crush up and sprinkle with your fingers.  This salt isn’t the kind of salt you’d use for salting your water or even in a recipe. It’s a seasoning salt for when your dish is done.

At the moment, Amazon has 2 box deal on  Maldon salt for $11.

13) Stone baking sheet

Easily my most favourite thing on any given day in my kitchen is my stone baking sheet. Now, I’ve owned pizza stones, and other stone cooking pieces, but none of them impressed me. So when I opened this from my mother for Christmas one year I think I might have said “What did you get me this stupid thing for? These things don’t work. I hate them. I wanted a pasta maker! You’re the worst mother ever.”

Turns out the thing is great. Love it. It’s a “Pampered Chef” item. It’s completely non stick, but things still brown on it. This is the go-to pan for my Sweet Potato Fries and pretty much anything I want to get crispy, but be able to remove from the pan without a bout of swearing. You wash it with just hot water and the oils from your cooking soak into the stone over time creating a beautiful non stick surface. Plus it gets all mottled looking, which I happen to like.

14) BONUS ITEM!  Pasta attachment for Kitchen Aid mixer.

Now that I think of it, I really should add the pasta roller attachment to this list.  It’s only applicable if you own a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I know you think making pasta takes a long time. I know you think making pasta is hard.  But it’s not.  In fact, a few weeks ago I was watching my 6 year old niece and my 9 year old nephew and in the hour that their mother was gone we made pasta from scratch and cooked it.  Granted, we didn’t let it rest quite as long as it should have but who cares??  It turned out fine!

The reason we could make it so fast was because I had the pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid. It flattened it out and cut it up in no time.

If you don’t believe me, here’s my post on How to Make Pasta with easy step by step instructions plus a video.

I own The Triple Set Pasta Attachment that includes the roller, the spaghetti and fettuccine cutter.

Questions about what I kitchen gear I like or don’t like?  Ask away in the comments.

I shall now bid you adieu.

 

100 Comments

  1. I hate to admit it, but the only basic item I don’t have is a slotted spoon. What do I need a slotted spoon for?

    My favorite kitchen implement: rubber tipped tongs.

    • Thandi Welman-Hawkes says:

      I second that vote for the tongs. I have a short handled pair for easy maneuvering of things in frying pans, and a long handled pair for manhandling roasts and things in pots. I would be lost without them! Ooooo and the little choppy bowl attachment for my stick blender. I swear I use that thing almost everyday: chopping nuts for my granola, making pesto in a small enough quantity to actually eat, being too lazy to chop onions by hand, pureeing roast peppers and tomatoes for pasta sauce, chopping broccoli and kale up into small enough pieces to be accepted by my very fussy birds.

    • Karen says:

      Funny! I think I’m the only person who doesn’t like rubber tipped tongs. I feel like I’m trying to apply makeup with mittens on when I use them, lol. Most people love them though! ~ karen

  2. Paula says:

    I have three different sizes of those exact knives and I love them. The only items on your list that I don’t have are:
    *pizza pans, but I don’t care for pizza.
    *Cuisinox “Elite” saute pan which I will probably now buy because I will be buying a gas stove soon and I will “need” one 🙂

    Great list!

  3. Mark says:

    I think you are extra special*

  4. karin says:

    hi karen, your potato ricer looks a lot like an “schwäbisch spätzlespresse”!

    try this:
    beat 200 grams of flour with some salt and 2-3 whole eggs to a creamy dough.
    bring salted water to a boil.
    let it simmer.
    press a certain amount of dough through the potato ricer ( large holes !) into the simmering water. bring it to boil again.
    wait until the spätzle come up, than get them out of the water with a spoon sieve.
    keep them in the warm oven until you used all the dough.

    we eat spätzle with lentils and frankfurter wurstel. a typical autumn and winter dish.
    or with a good sunday roast meat…together with potato salat 🙂

    enjoy !

    • Barb says:

      OH YES!!! Don’t let the weird german words scare you! Spaetzle are the absolute BEST THING ever! Especially with those fresh eggs….

      Just saying!

      Vielen Dank! Ich wünsche euch einen schönen stressfreien Tag!

    • Nancy Sanderson says:

      Oh yes! We had a German exchange student make this for us and it was wonderful.

  5. Leisa says:

    I can’t live without my garlic press. I seem to make a lot of things that need minced garlic!

    • Billy Sharpstick says:

      “Garlic Rocker” – splurge and get the solid stainless steel version. I have one with the plastic handles. It’s held up well so far, but the plastic just concerns me. There’s a lot of force when you use it. I end with some chopped onion. It makes clearing it easier.
      I also have a Genius garlic cuber tool. Wore one out completely because of the fine threads on it. They have a stainless steel version, but pricey. The Rocker is now my favorite, easier to clean. I just whack the end across my palm and rinse.

  6. Thandi Welman-Hawkes says:

    My magnetic knife strip. Oh man, I get waaaaaay too excited about it. All my beautiful knives on display (according to size and function because I am that nerdy), no blunting or damage from a knife block, no stabbing myself trying to get something out of a drawer, just grab and go. Best thing I ever got by making *big eyes* at my husband until he caved and bought it for me.

    • Laurie Alexander says:

      I also LOVE mine

    • Jenifer says:

      I may need to get one…the butcher block annoys me and takes up too much valuable counter space!

    • karin in NC says:

      Gotta agree – I love my magnetic knife rack. And so does just about everyone who sees it in my kitchen. I’ll bet at least 5 people I know got one after seeing useful mine is. My other fave is my “Everyday Pan” from Calphalon. I got a small one as a gift for buying a set of Calphalon and loved it so much I bought another, larger one. I use them every day (guess that’s why they call it the Everyday Pan). Love the metal handles and the fact that it can go in the oven (like yours).

      • Stephbo says:

        I have this weird irrational fear that if I ever have a home invasion and have one of those magnetic strips, it would be easier to grab a knife and kill me with it. You know. Because it’s so hard to pull a knife out of the block on the counter. Lol! Clearly I have issues. 😂

        • Karin in NC says:

          Well, I certainly have my own issues, so I’m not one to laugh at other peoples irrational fears, but I have to say that is a new one! 😀

  7. Debra Breiland says:

    Oven thermometer .Didn’t even know I needed one until everything I baked was un-done, under-baked, and questionable. Turns out my oven was way off, even though it was “binging” to let me know it was pre-heated to temp. I’ll never go without one again.

    • Billy Sharpstick says:

      I like the Thermoworks “Chefalarm” And their Thermapen. Certified accurate results in 3 or 4 seconds. Both a bit pricey, but very good. That’s what the use on “America’s Test Kitchen”.

      • Monica says:

        Yes! get a good digital instant-read thermometer! The Thermapen is spendy, so we have this one (also by Thermoworks) — it’s is way less $$ and works great!

        • Dee says:

          If you get on Thermowork’s email list, they send notices of sales every so often. They have some really good prices around Christmas, and they make a great gift!

  8. Ei Con says:

    Agree with you about the Foodsaver. Some readers will be daunted by the price, but you’d be surprised at how many show up in thrift stores and estate sales. I got mine from a thrift store last year for $5 and have found 3 more for under $15 that I’ve given away to friends. Usually they just need a good clean.

  9. danni says:

    Mixing bowls with spouts. Slop enough stuff all over the place trying to pour out of a regular bowl and its a no brainer necessity!

    • Teri says:

      Yes! Mine also has a handle opposite which is worth the price of admission since my ‘older’ hands aren’t as reliable as they used to be. Could not be without 2 of these bowls. One is a fancy pottery Mason Cash and the other is a plastic (Melamine?) by Rostfrei. Interestingly they will both break if dropped. I’ve tested both just to be sure..”..

  10. Catt-in-Kentucky says:

    Great list! Yes tongs…I love the ones from Williams-Sonoma I have 2 sizes that retract to a slim profile for storage. I would add strainers…a set each of medium mesh and fine mesh metal strainers and 4 or 5 cutting boards ofor various sizes.

    I also love my Bird’s Beak Wustfof knife for coring and stemming fruit. I use it every day.

    Metal whisks of every size, micro and mini-graters, a powerful blender like Vitamix and a high quality immersion blender.

  11. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    That was a fun read…thank you!…loved it! The inexpensive Foxrun stainless steel ricer is not as good as their pvc one! The stainless steel is too lightweight.

    • Karen says:

      See everyone? And that’s coming from the local kitchen store owner! (The Keeping Room) ~ karen!

      • Elaine says:

        I love browsing in that store, Karen, and the staff are always friendly. Thank you for your list. By the way, re your choice of cookbooks … I couldn’t agree more. I have two of them from years ago and refer to them often. I also find Sunset cookbooks are good.

  12. susan says:

    Don’t want or need a potato ricer or a Costco membership (except for the humongous bags of Chicago Mix which I’ve quit asking friends to pick up) but I couldn’t live without my stone. One of the worst days of my life was when my first one cracked in half.
    But my new kitchen favourite, definitely a necessity since I live on PEI, is a pair of lobster scissors. For years, I paid for my luscious treat by wrestling it with a pair of nutcrackers but now, lobster or snow crab is a piece of cake. Snip, snip, aaahhh..

    • Staci Martin says:

      I also loved the stone, but after one cracking and a second one blowing up (wtf?!?), I’ve given up. (Not to mention I now own $80 worth of pieces of former pans)

  13. Jane S says:

    I took your advice and bought a Foodsaver. Now I can’t stop buying meat. My freezer is exploding. We couldn’t use a potato ricer because we like our mashed potatoes with the skins on. I’ll be combing the thrift stores for a stone baking sheet. I can never get my sweet potato fries as crispy as I’d like. Thanks for the list.

  14. dana says:

    I almost choked on my pistachio picturing Little Karen sitting at the table as her mama smashed potatoes through the ricer onto her plate! Good list. 😂 We use an old wooden potato masher. We also don’t have an electric can opener & use a metal hand cranky thingy & have for 26 yrs. We use a coffee press instead of a coffeemaker. My big chefs knife came from Dollar Tree. It sharpens up really well and I love it. Glad you didn’t include a Kitchenaid mixer in your list. I’m starting to think I’m the only woman on earth without one but I don’t think it would get used that often.

  15. Garth says:

    Food saver bags are expensive. To cut the cost way down, we start with an extra long bag, then wash it out after using. Wrapping meat in plastic wrap before inserting in the bag makes clean up easy. Sometimes we will freeze the wrapped meat first, then bag it. We get several uses out of one bag, costing only a couple of inches per use. One thing you have to do just before reusing the bag is cut a little strip off the open edge because as the bag dries, that edge takes a curl.

  16. Christina Contri says:

    I’m surprised a microphone didn’t make your list.

  17. Monique says:

    I am a kitchen nut..and have a well stocked kitchen after 45 yrs of playing in it..

    just want to share this..

    we have a honing steel..and a stone..and I have tried many sharpening tools..even I think it was called the Shark and broke the same day I bought it..

    about 18 months ago I was at Homesense and bought a CL Anysharp..
    it is by far the best..best best knife sharpening tool I have ever bought..

    Ifound a video..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33iGODrphCE

    Amaazon has the Anysharps..

    mine is CL..but these look IDENTICAL.
    I give it 5 stars.Promise.

    I like my little Chemex when we just want 2 small cups of coffee..

    I have had my KA stand mixer for over 35 yrs..and could not be without it..

    Foodsaver is wonderful.
    Mixing bowls w/ spouts.
    Garlic press..just reading the above comments:)

    My Braun food processor..I had one for over 30 yrs..it broke..I found another..
    A plunger blender for soups..
    I could go on and on:)

  18. TONI says:

    YOU MENTIONED YOUR GO-TO PAN FOR S/P FRIES WAS A PAMPERED CHEF STONE PAN …………… USE IT JUST LIKE YOU DO YOUR DARK PAN IN THE S/P FRY RECIPE ??? FUNNY, I HAVE HAD ONE OF THOSE GATHERING DUST IN THE BASEMENT FOR YEARS. USED IT ONCE TO MAKE SQUARES & WASN’T HAPPY WITH IT BUT IT CAME FROM MY DAUGHTER, SO THOUGHT I SHOULD HANG ON TO IT.

    • Karen says:

      Yep. The fries take a little longer to cook in the oven with the Pampered chef stone but they do NOT stick. I also have a really dark, very well used metal baking sheet that’s great for sweet potato fries because they get really crispy on it, but they also tend to stick no matter how much oil I use. ~ karen!

      • TONI says:

        I’VE BEEN DILLY-DALLY-ING ABOUT TRYING ONE OF THREE S/P FRY RECIPES IN MY STASH ……. THEY’LL SIT A BIT LONGER NOW THAT YOUR VERSION HAS SURFACED ! THEY SOUND GOOD & I EVEN HAVE THE EQUIPMENT TO STAVE OFF FRUSTRATION ! YAY ME ! AND YOU, OF COURSE !

  19. marilyn meagher says:

    I can’t live without my rasp from lee valley.

  20. Dan says:

    As a vegan, the food saver is not needed here. Same with your cookbook recommendations and Costco membership. Necessities in our house: stand mixer, bread machine, good spatulas.

    • Karen says:

      Don’t forget the Foodsaver isn’t just for meat! I use it for sealing everything that goes in the freezer. Vegetables, pie dough, lasagna, … 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Karin in NC says:

        I’ve thought about a Foodsaver in the past BUT…1) very small kitchen and small freezer means no room for the Foodsaver or more than a couple of items in the freezer, so why? and even more importantly 2) I am focusing on really reducing the amount of plastic in my life and in my home, so a Foodsaver just isn’t on my list.

      • Cred says:

        True. The only real life person I know who uses a foodsaver, besides my mom who only every kitchen gadget ever made whether she needs it or not, is my friend who is also vegan. She uses it to make smaller portions of dry goods bought in mega-bulk, mind you she has 6 kids so they buy everything in bulk.

    • JulieD says:

      Also to store garden seeds.

  21. Jenifer says:

    I’m so surprised that a Kitchen Aid Mixer wasn’t on your list. For me it’s right up there with measuring spoons and cups! And worth. every. penny. (but the pasta attachments were??)

    Maybe it was an oversight or one (or two) glasses too much of the ‘good stuff’ but really, how can you claim to be a home chef with out one???

    • Nicole says:

      Yeah. I went without for years, but finally broke down when I got into breadmaking. I use it pretty regularly. Friends swear by the ice cream maker and sausage maker attachments, but… I just buy those things, so not really my jam.

      I love my Grandma’s Five Roses Flour Cookbook. Canadian classic.

      Cast iron pan should also be on the list somewhere! Basic or advanced? I have one that was my grandmother’s. When I had an iron deficiency, I was shocked to see “cook in cast iron” on the list of ways to raise your iron levels. Apparently quite a bit gets into your food. Bonus! I’ve used mine for a lot of things over the years.

      I’ve owned garlic presses, but I keep going back to the “smash the clove with the side of the knife, pull the skin off and chop” method.

  22. Melissa Stinson says:

    I shall now go sell a kidney, or my first born, to get these items.

    I have a mortar and postal already, so I might be able to keep the kid(ney).

  23. My Foodsaver is also one of my favorites, as is a new contraption I just got – the InstantPot pressure cooker. I love that thing! My breadmaker gets used 2-3 times per week, and I can’t stand the taste of store-bought bread anymore.

    Also, my silicone mats for baking, my silicone measuring cups, and my silicone spatulas and spoons.

    But, I think my favorite gadget is my gas stove with convection oven. I don’t burn or dry out stuff anymore…well, hardly ever anyway.

  24. Mindy says:

    You forgot the microplane. Absolute must. Also, mini ice cream scoop. Spring loaded. I’ve never used mine for ice cream, by the way. I’d take both to the bomb shelter.

  25. Rhonda says:

    I notice you did not list a cast iron frying pan, I am guessing I should have had one already in my kitchen. What should I look for in a good one? My 19 yr old son drools while watching Gorden Ramsey cook a steak on one and I should buy one so he can learn to cook a steak. Please help!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rhonda. I got alllll my cast iron pans from garage sales. Every one of them. And yes, they’re fantastic and the only thing I cook steaks on. I’ve even abandoned my BBQ for steaks because a cast iron pan gives them a perfect sear. Here’s my post on how to prepare and season an old cast iron pan if you find one at a garage sale. A well seasoned cast iron pan is completely non stick while still allowing things to sear perfect. They really are great. ~ karen

      • Rhonda says:

        Thanks Karen. I guess I will be on the hunt this summer.

      • ellen says:

        Vintage cast iron is actually much better quality than new. Older pans had one more polishing step in their manufacture than new ones get. I pick up old ones whenever I run across them.

  26. Sue says:

    Surprised you didn’t mention the Cattails Cleaver Hook . . .

  27. Cussot says:

    We love our cast iron frying pan, but my husband keeps cooking off the seasoning by making acid stuff like tomato sauces in it. Maybe I should buy him a nice big Cuisinox. It looks beautiful.

    And OMG it’s cheaper on amazon.ca. I must be reading that wrong.

  28. Teri says:

    Spoonulas! I would curl into a ball and weep if someone took away my spoonulas. Many varieties available, all decent. My hands down fave are the brightly coloured silicone ones that come in small and bigger than small.
    What is a spoonula you ask? Think spatula that is curved like a really shallow spoon. Genius!
    Don’t get the ones with the wooden handle, they don’t go in the dishwasher.
    Otherwise this list, especially as amended by the fiendishly clever comments section, is spot on.
    And another nod to the Instant Pot. My newest kitchen toy and I’ve taken to waiting until it is on sale at Amazon and buying it for loved ones.

    • Teri says:

      Oh and re: cookbooks – ‘Better Than Store Bought’ and Jane Brody’s ‘Good Food Book’. Both have had to be rebound at Staples since the covers wore off. I’ve been culling my extensive (read obsessive) cookbook collection for years but these two will go down with me. Along with that one we inherited from our mother’s – you know, put out by the United Church Ladies, or similar, that has all the stained pages and scratchy hand written comments and loose pieces of paper that made up the cookbook collections of another era. The one for with the recipe for lime jellied salad.
      Mine also has recipes hand written on blank pages, included for that use, in the back of the book. In my mother’s handwriting, a recipe for home made beer and home made white-wash. I’m pretty sure she never got the ingredients confused.

      • Cred says:

        Interesting. I have a falling-apart copy of the Better Homes & Garden cookbook that I took to Staples to have rebound and they wouldn’t do it. They said they can’t rebind publishes works.
        Such crap- as if I was going to resell my dog eared, stained copy of a cookbook.
        It seems I should just try another store- clearly I had an employee who was sticking to the letter of the law with their store policy.

        • Teri says:

          Very interesting – I’ve had 3 done at my local store. I can’t figure why it would be a problem. Good luck.

  29. kathy says:

    Hi I looked at the skillet on Amazon. The description is limited is it like All Clad or is there a bonded disc on the bottom. My fav is Bonavita tea kettle, electric with temp setting and a hold button for constant temp. Used every day over 4 yrs and it pours beautifully, Amazon. And my excalibur dehydrator has changed my life, for the better. After a week long power outage, the full freezer was all garbage. I dehydrate brown rice, frozen veg, and fresh veg. small but very useful is mira scale. All from Amazon Yeah kitchen stuff!!!

  30. Jody says:

    I’m scared to admit I have version of everyone of the items you mentioned. And I use them too.
    And happy, slightly belated, anniversary to TAODS!

  31. kte says:

    I’m going to disagree with buying the cheapest food saver if you do any butchering. We usually butcher at least one deer a year and burned out a food saver every 2 years until we bought a higher end one (a weston pro model) and it has been going strong for almost 5 years.

  32. Celeste says:

    Anybody else notice that Customers Who Viewed the Cuisinox pan Also Viewed

    – Gun Glock Cleaning Mat Glock Diagram
    – Wheeler Universal Barrel Clamp
    – Pro-Shot Products 100% Cotton Flannel Patches

    What does a high end pan have to do with cleaning firearms?? What does it mean???

    Or is it just me and my browser…?

    Really. I need answers.

  33. Tori says:

    I also use a potato ricer for hash browns. I grate the potatoes into a bowl of cold water to keep them from getting discolored and mushy, then use the ricer to squeeze out the water right before I fry them. They turn out nice and crispy that way.

  34. Zoe says:

    I have 2 questions -well 3 – how heavy is the frying pan / does the handle get hot?

    Also the baking sheet – I keep buying regular metal cookie trays and then because i’m lazy (exhausted) put them in the dishwasher and then they rust and then when I think i might die from rust i buy a new one, would that circumvent that problem – i presume it can be used for everything that would normally go on a cookie tray – not just cookies ? 🙂

  35. Berry says:

    I must frown at you now. Ceramic adjustable grind pepper mill 4Life! Preferably one that you can take apart and clean out.

    My top tools used every day includes a microplane grater – zest citrus, fresh nutmeg, grated ginger, chocolate, parmesan. Tongs. I have a half dozen types for different uses. And flat spatulas.

    Oh, and you are missing out – the next time you make mashed potatoes with butter, milk, and sour cream, add a hint of fresh grated nutmeg, a shake of garlic powder, and a grand heaping pile of fresh grated parmesan. Then eat the whole thing and tell your guests that you burned it. (The same, plus lemon zest, makes fabulous popcorn too.)

  36. Stephanie says:

    Chef’s knife, serrated knife, box grater & microplane, tongs, stand mixer, blender, potato ricer, wood cutting board, magnetic knife thingy, kitchen scissors, twine, and a rod with hooks right beside the stove for utensils so they are easily accessible and my kitchen scale. Oh, and the stand for my ipad. That’s 14 but cook a lot.

  37. Kim says:

    One thing I bought a couple of years ago and have wondered how I got along without for 40 years was a bakers bench scraper. Not that I’m much of a baker, but it’s great for transferring all those chopped veggies, garlic, etc. from the cutting board to the pan. That $5.00 spent was well worth it!

  38. E Wilcox says:

    I recently discovered how useful quarter sheets were! I cook for only two or three, and the smaller rimmed sheets really do the job! Have purchased 2 of them and the silicone sheets for same, and the racks. Ready to rock and roll on all fronts now!

  39. Merrilee Anderson says:

    Oh but Karen you didn’t mention an immersion circulator! Your steak WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. It is insanely easy to use, delicious, and you can cook things like lamb and fish too, and things never get overcooked. We converted a few years ago, and I say that in the way it is intended, sous vide will change your life.

  40. Peggy D says:

    Do you have a preference on measuring spoons and cups?

    • Karen says:

      Not especially Peggy D. I do however like to have many measuring cups and many measuring spoons because recipes inevitably call for a teaspoon several times and having a few means you don’t have to constantly wash and wipe. Also, if your measuring spoons happen to be in the dishwasher, you always have another set ready to go that way. I can say that I always use dry ingredient measuring cups for dry ingredients and a wet (Pyrex with spout) measuring cup for web ingredients. ~ karen!

  41. nancy says:

    Joy of Cooking cookbook!! I also second the garlic press and black pepper grinder unless it’s too basic to mention. And if you have money left over, the White Trash cookbook is pretty darn nice to have.

  42. stephanie hobson says:

    Favorite cookbook, my mom’s 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking. Great fun to read.

  43. Lisa says:

    What?..no well seasoned 50-100 year old cast iron skillet?…Mine never gets put away..Great list!

    • Karen says:

      LOL, there are indeed several in my collection. This isn’t an exhaustive list. 🙂 Just a few suggestions. ~ karen!

  44. Renee says:

    Wooden spoons – I have one that is 34 years old, and has mixed everything from kool-aid to gumbo. I regularly use cutting board oil on it. Maybe it is the memories, but my daughter says it is hers when I no longer need it. I second the cast iron pans, especially the old ones. When we bought our house 30 years ago, there was a pan in the old stove. I reseasoned it, and that this is slicker than any non-stick pan. Best thing for corn bread. I have a 35 year old Cuisinart food processor that I bought my 2nd replacement bowl. I could prob get a new one cheaper than the bowl, but that thing is a powerful workhorse.

  45. Peg MacDougall says:

    nice, i have all items plus many others due to a very generous mother in law who loved to collect cookbooks and kitchen tools, she would buy one for herself ,her daughter and me.
    I love Maldons “‘Smoked Salt” great on the rim of margarita or paloma. But also love this local one I buy https://www.sanjuanislandseasalt.com. I used to live in Friday Harbor WA. Lovely young couples new business. Salt ,honey, caramels and she does wedding flowers grown on island.

  46. Carrie Miller says:

    In the “basic cookbook” collection, if you can find one, I highly recommend “The Women’s Home Companion Cookbook”. I first discovered this book in 1977 when I wanted to learn to bake bread for 4-H. The copy we had was my grandmother’s, published in 1953. It is extremely hard to find – I finally found a copy in 1993 in a used bookstore – but worth having. In addition to the breads, it has recipies for old fashioned cookies, detailed instructions on cooking meats, gravies, the list goes on.

  47. Cred says:

    My kitchen faves that come to mind- my microplane because of it’s multiplicity, an old style apple peeler/corer for pies, crisps or sauce making, my kitchenAid, my narrow, rectangular metal measuring spoons that fit inside a spice bottle and metal, oval measuring cups (I think Martha Stewart brand makes some) for similar reason- I store some dry ingredients in mason jars and the measuring cup fits inside. Also, my mouli that coincidentally, I use most often for riceing mashed potatoes, a cheapo Oster stick blender with detachable S/S wand (if it fell apart tomorrow it will have paid for itself many times over as its used at least daily by the fam to make smoothies), a slow cooker and my handheld lemon squeezer (the one that turns your lemon inside out).
    I have an InstantPot but it doesn’t makes the cut- not even close.

  48. Cred says:

    Anyone have a good 4-slice toaster recommendation? We have twice bought new toasters that initially were great, then shortly after didn’t toast properly, either overdone or underdone and then prematurely failing altogether.

  49. Susan says:

    The potato ricer is also fantastic for squeezing moisture out of cooked (or frozen) spinach, grated zucchini, grated potatoes, etc. So much easier and less messy than using a cloth.

  50. Leisa says:

    You mentioned making sweet potato fries on a baking stone which I have. Your recipe for sp fries shows them on a cookie sheet. My question is: do I preheat the baking stone or do I use it just as you would a sheet pan?

    Thanks, Leisa

    • Karen says:

      Hi Leisa. It’s always better if you preheat the baking stone. You don’t *have* to of course, but you’ll definitely get better results if you do. 🙂 ~ karen!

  51. Leisa says:

    Thanks Karen!

  52. Katie Robinson says:

    Don’t forget a decent bread knife, so you don’t squash the loaf that’s still warm from the oven when you can’t wait for it to cool. Or a cheese grater, though I use mine more often for carrots and celery than cheese, as it allows me to “hide” veggies in almost any soup or stew I make. Oh, and a stick blender, for soups, sauces, and gravies!

  53. Magali says:

    Over Christmas I found out my sister doesn’t own measuring spoons. I was so shocked! I own two sets because I hate having to clean them while I’m in the middle of a recipe!

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