The 5 things I’d die without in the kitchen

With the following 5 things, I could definitely cook up an excellent meal. That doesn’t mean I am going to give up all the other kitchen tools I have but if forced to downsize, I could do it without sacrificing my cooking.

My number one rule for any kitchen tool including the five below…NO UNITASKERS!

Here are the tools I would likely starve to death without:

1. Cook’s Knife:

If you can only afford to buy one knife, buy a Cook’s knife also known as a French Knife. This is the best multi-use blade. You can chop, slice, cut whatever you need to do. Obviously it is nice to have the more specific knives but if that isn’t a possibility you can totally get by with just this knife. I actually tend to use it despite having other knives.

My cook’s knife is Wusthof but I can’t say it is better than the other brands out there. I think it is most important to have a comfortable handle that is sturdy (you don’t want it breaking while your in the middle of chopping) and a heavy blade. I like the Wusthof because we have an easy to use sharpener that goes with it which allows me to keep it well honed.

2. Stainless Steel Fry Pan:

I don’t want to get into the whole debate over whether non-stick coating is harmful or not because honestly, I haven’t a clue. I prefer stainless steel because I can scrub it down as hard as I want without fear like you do with non-stick. I remember my mom sighing in frustration after my dad had used steel wool on her nice non-stick pan.

I have a lovely All-Clad fry pan. Before I met my All-Clad fry pan, I had only cooked with cheap pots and pans that I got at places like Odd Lots, so the difference was extreme. All-Clad are engineered in a way to conduct heat very evening so you don’t have to worry about some things burning while other things not getting done at all.

I feel a fry pan again one of those pans that you can use in so many ways. Of course for doing things like frying up eggs. But you if you get a decent one it will be deep enough to make meat with a cooked sauce. I also have one that is large in diameter. This is nice for the lazy cook (like me) who wants to avoid lots of cleaning after meal time. With the wider diameter I can make multiple things in the same pan. Like cook two chicken breasts at once. Or eggs on one part and fried potatoes on another.

3. Cast Iron Pan:

Before I owned a cast iron pan, I never really thought they were that useful. But now, I am not sure how I would make certain things without one.

The number one thing I make in my cast iron pan is bacon. Bacon turns out perfect every time. And the clean up is easier. I just let the bacon grease cool and then wipe it out. The remaining oils help to season the pan. It may seem gross, but you’re not to use water on a cast iron pan. If it gets really dirty I use a paper towel  with olive oil to wipe it down.

The other thing I love to use my cast iron for is making quesdillas. Who needs a quesdilla maker? A good cast iron will crisp the tortilla on the outside while leaving the cheese gooey and delicious. Yum!

It’s good for cooking most kinds of meat as it can get super hot and hold the heat well.

4. Pizza Stone:

I hate, hate, hate uni-taskers in the kitchen. Have I mentioned that? And so I forego a lot of the things people have in their kitchens because I feel they are good for only one task. Instead I usually make do with a tool I have that can server many purposes.

And on it’s face a pizza stone seems to be good for one thing only…making pizza. I actually only ended up with a pizza stone because when I was engaged my husband-to-be and I were desperate to find things to register for so people would have choices on our registry.

And for a long time the pizza stone sat lonely in the bottom drawer of the stove waiting for the ever occasional time we made pizza. Until I decided to experiment with it.

Ever since we have lived in our current apartment I had difficulty baking anything. Cookies, breads, and cakes all came out wafer thin no matter how carefully I minded the ingredients. Google searches and book research turned up nothing that would ease the issue. Until one day I was listening to Good Food on KCRW a guest was talking about oven variances and how to deal with the issue. And she mentioned that she kept a pizza stone in her oven to aid in a more even heat. *DING* A light bulb went off. Ever since we have kept our pizza stone on the lower rack of our stove and I have been able to make cookies, cakes and more that turn out perfect.

We are actually on our second pizza stone because our first one broke in half.

5. Silicone Spatula:

I used to not be too picky about spatula. I always felt they were a very necessary kitchen tool. After all you can scrap, flip, and stir with them. But now I only use silicone because of their ability to deal with heat.

Remember how I told you I liked stainless steel pans because you could scrub the devil out of them? I inadvertently tested this out because one day I was using a regular plastic spatula that started to melt on to the pan! The pan was hotter than I thought and the spatula not so heat resistant. Opps! Lucky for me, I am married to a wonderful man who offered up his elbow grease (and elbow) to get the melted plastic off our lovely pan. And thank goodness for Bar Keepers Friend that helped him do it.

So you can see why silicone would be my preference for here on out.

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~ by fortuitousoccurances on May 24, 2010.

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