Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our Favorite Kitchen Tools

In last week’s post, we tried to take away some of your fear of experimenting in the kitchen.  We’ve both had our share of kitchen disasters.  But really, that’s part of learning anything new.  To be good at anything—ice skating, speaking French, singing Hey, Soul Sister at the top of your lungs—takes practice.  We know.

While we firmly believe you don’t have to have a lot of fancy, expensive gadgets in your kitchen, there are a few tools that make cooking a lot quicker and easier—and even more healthy and delicious.

Here are our favorites.  We hope you try them, and let us know about your kitchen successes (or failures!).  We can all learn from each other.

First, start with a good knife.  Have you ever tried to cut through an onion with a dull, flimsy knife?  Disaster.  And dangerous!  Buy the best you can afford.  Take care of it, (don’t put it in the dishwasher!) and it will last a lifetime. 

A 7" Santoku knife happens to be a favorite, but choose one that fits your hand well.  Hint:  check out Costco for good deals on knives.

Next to a good knife, a microplane is the other top kitchen essential.  Use the microplane to zest lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits or other citrus to add a ‘pop’ to your salad dressings, sauces, marinades, dry rubs…the list goes on. We add zest to almost everything—savory or sweet—because it ups the flavor without added salt or extra fat.  Not that we’re against fat. 

A salad spinner (especially in a fun color!) makes washing greens and herbs a cinch.  Wash your greens when you get home from the grocery, and then wrap them in a paper towel and store them in a plastic container or bag in the refrigerator.  You’re more likely to eat them if they are washed and ready for you!

Good quality, heavy cookware makes cooking easier.  You’re less likely to burn your dinner if you have a thick-bottom pan.  And cast iron cookware—like Le Creuset—heats evenly, holds heat well and can easily go from the stovetop to the oven.  It’s not cheap, but it will last a lifetime.  Buy one piece at a time, as you can. 

Not to mention, it’s pretty.  You’ll look impressive in the kitchen, even if you don’t have a clue about what you’re doing. 

A KitchenAid stand mixer is not essential, but definitely put it on your lifetime wish list.  And it’s not just for making cookies (although creaming butter and sugar has never been easier).  With attachments like the pasta roller and meat grinder, it will greatly increase what you can do in the kitchen.  Just wait until you make your first burger with meat you grind yourself! 

A digital food scale has so many uses. For perfect baking results, measure your dry ingredients by weight.  And using the scale to measure things like nuts or pasta can also help you become familiar with what one serving size looks like.

Liquid measuring cups are obviously essential for measuring, but they’re also great for making salad dressings, dips or sauces.

Glass bowls in a variety of sizes keep you neat and organized in the kitchen. We especially love ones with lids to help you take leftovers straight into the fridge, or transport food without spilling.

If you haven’t noticed, we love to be organized! These glass jars from the Container Store are chic and affordable.  They are perfect for dry food storage, and the mouth of the jar is wide enough to scoop flour inside the jars, eliminating spills.

Happy Cooking!

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