For the last few weeks, I have discussed my list of essentials. From stocking your pantry and baking areas, I have you covered! Today I want to spend a little time discussing essentials when it comes to cooking; where we put everything together and make wholesome delicious meals for our family and friends.
Where to begin…
- Knives: First and foremost, let’s access your kitchen knives. Are they sharp? There is nothing worse, unproductive and unsafe than dull knives! A sharp knife will increase efficiency and protect your fingers from slipping. Kitchen stores quite often offer knife sharpening services which is a great investment (often $5 a knife) once or twice a year depending on how often you use them. When it comes to what kind of knives to own, I personally believe every cook needs a solid chef knife, pairing knife, slicer (for bread), and a carving knife (chicken, Thanksgiving turkey, roasts) etc. Always try the knives before you use them as they have to feel good in your hands. Most kitchen stores, at least the ones you should be buying your knives from, will let you give them a test run before you take them home.
- Knife Block: Always store your knives in a knife block and not in a container blade down. Great knives are spendy and properly storing them is of upmost importance. If you had a Lamborghini, you would probably take great care in where you parked it, how you drove it and it’s overall care and maintenance. Same concept applies, especially when some knives are nearly as costly as one!
- Cutting boards: Wood cutting boards are the absolute best and will help protect your knife’s blade. Glass and plastic are not good choices especially since glass will dull your knives and plastic are porous and can easily carry bacteria.
- Vitamix: I cannot imagine life without my Vitamix! From smoothies, ice cream, soups and a self-cleaning feature, to name a few, I quite honestly cannot imagine how I made velvety smooth soups and smoothies before owning one. It’s an investment I am proud of and a constant in my kitchen!
- Pots and Pans: For those just starting off, I recommend looking at making an investment in a set. Sets usually include a few pots, sauté pans and fry pans of different shapes and sizes. This gives you a nice collection from which to build from. If you find that you use your 10-inch sauté pan every night, you can buy a second one as an individual piece. A few of my favorite brands that will last you a lifetime are Demeyere and Scanpan. These can also go from stovetop to oven, which in my opinion is essential!
- Cast Iron: There is nothing better than a beautiful sear from a well seasoned cast iron pan. Yes, they may be heavy, but they are the ultimate form of cooking and I have built my collection over the years. My favorite brand is Staub whose price tag may be more expensive than Le Creuseut but it’s absolutely worth it! Le Creuset is also an excellent choice, but Staub is the absolute ultimate in my opinion. Lodge is a nice introductory pan but must be seasoned before use and soap cannot be used when cleaning.
- Meat Thermometer: Having a digital meat thermometer is a wonderful investment for knowing when your meat is done and ensuring perfectly cooked proteins every time. They even have some that will alert you when a certain temperature is met, which you set. I always recommend using a thermometer but also using your visual queues as thermometers can sometimes malfunction, especially if they are inserted on a thinner portion of the meat or are touching the bottom of the pan or a bone.
- Roasting Pan with Inserted Roasting Rack: These are great for anything from chickens, turkeys, lamb, and spiral cut ham.
- Attire: Aprons, oven mitts and kitchen towels are a constant in my kitchen. From keeping myself clean and safe, I always have a rotating supply of each. Also, always make sure you wear tennis shoes when cooking in case a knife or hot liquid slips from the countertops.
However you stock your kitchen, make sure that it makes sense to you. Regardless, I hope that this list inspires you to take inventory of your current situation and take control of what changes are needed to start cooking at your best!
Cheers to starting a new tradition around the table together!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!