Yesterday, Regina left this comment for me:
I love your site and enjoy receiving emails with new dishes that you have made. I am trying to get more home cooked meals in our house and your website is helpful with ideas on what to make and what ingredients are needed. In the mashed potatoes you mentioned you use a stand mixer; I am in the process of getting one and would love to hear what model you have and if this helps with your homemade meals. I was looking at a Sunbeam Heritage mixer (alot cheaper than the Kitchen Aid) but I have read a lot of bad reviews on this. Anyhow, would love to hear what helps you in the kitchen to make all your homemade meals. What tools and appliances are essential for you completion of wonderful meals? Thanks for your great recipes and I am looking forward to trying lots of the already posted recipes.
I’m going to answer Regina’s question in this post. You’ll also get a good look at my cooking philosophy in action. I don’t believe that you need the latest and greatest to put wonderful meals on the table for your family. Don’t get me wrong. I like new shiny appliances and cooking tools, but they aren’t always in the budget.
Come with me on a tour of my kitchen. I’m betting it looks a lot like yours. (In fact, yours may be nicer 🙂 )
First is my stove. I know that gas stoves are more responsive and cook better, but this is an all electric neighborhood. I like the glass top because it’s easy to clean. It also has expandable burners.
Although I don’t use it often, the programmable oven is nice. I can set it to start cooking later in the day and stop at a certain time too.
My favorite part of the stove is the “speed bake” or convection oven. A fan inside circulates the air for more even baking. It does speed up the cooking time as well.
My stand mixer is a Kitchen Aide. Jim bought it on Black Friday 12 years ago. He got it from Walmart. It’s a low-end model, nothing special but I love it. I’ve never had an ounce of trouble with it in all this time. It’s big enough to do whatever I need to do and I haven’t felt the need for fancy attachments.
As much as I love my stand mixer, I’m sure a good quality hand mixer would do the job too.
There are 3 things in this picture that I use all the time. First is the santoku knife. It’s Henckel’s brand, bought from Target for about $50 with birthday money. If you don’t have a good knife, I do recommend getting one. A good, sharp knife makes a huge difference in prep time. So much faster to chop and dice with a sharp knife vs a dull one.
Update: Since I first wrote this post, I’ve discovered Rada Cutlery. I love their knives! You can find out more about Rada knives and keeping any knife sharp here. Visit the Rada Kitchen Store to buy a great knife for under $10!
Also in the picture is a knife sharpener. It’s easy to use and keeps the blade sharp.
The cutting board is bamboo. I bought it from Walmart for about $15. I know there are better quality cutting boards out there, but I really like this one and it was cheap.
I like to keep my cooking utensils handy by the stove. The bucket came from Ikea. Super cheap, but it gets the job done.
The utensils area hodge podge of things I’ve picked up over the years. I do like the scraper from Pampered Chef. The bamboo spatulas are also nice to cook with and come from Pampered Chef too.
Hiding in there somewhere is my favorite cooking spoon that is wearing out. It was a wedding gift. The shape of the plastic is just right for cooking. I’m going to miss it when it finally bites the dust.
I like to keep a lot of measuring spoons and cups around. I hate having to wash one before I can measure again. As you can see, these are not fancy.
One of the measuring cups even has burn marks from falling to the bottom of the dishwasher, but it still measures.
I always untether the measuring spoons. It bugs me to have them dangling together from a ring. Of course, that means I lose them in the drawer a lot.
Nothing can replace a well seasoned iron skillet. These were wedding gifts and have had years of cooking. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
SandyW mentioned her iron skillets in a comment yesterday in reply to Regina’s question.
She makes some good points:
One of the things in my kitchen that I use alot is a well seasoned cast iron frypan. In fact I have 3 different sizes. Mine were handed down from my mother and grandmother. If it is seasoned right it is almost as good as a non stick pan. I wash mine in mild soapy water ( not in the dishwasher) even though the instructions say not to or you will have to reseason it. I have never had rust problems or had to reseason. There are directions on several internet sites, some of them make care of cast iron sound somewhat complicated but I find it pretty simple. Pioneer women did just fine using them on their way west. It is also a good way to get some iron into your family’s diet.
I bought this Calphalon skillet because I needed something a little bigger and I liked the fact that it has a lid. I ordered it from Amazon for about $25. Not a bad deal.
I use it several times a week. It can also go in the oven.
You’ve met my slow cooker before. It’s a 6 quart model. I like that it is big, because I can fill it up with a large roast, a whole chicken or a lot of soup.
But there are times I wish I owned a smaller one, as well. For the best slow cooking, the crock needs to be pretty full. Not every recipe fills this one up. I’d also love to have a programmable one someday. For now, I give this one a work out several times a week.
The last item is a large stock pot. It has inserts for cooking and draining pasta, but I rarely use them. I’m pretty sure this came from William Sonoma. It was a Christmas gift from one of my husband’s bosses. Will was such a good cook and he thoroughly enjoyed both cooking and eating. He also liked to pass that love onto others.
I’m not sure how big this is, but I’m guessing it’s about 8 quarts. It’s perfect for large recipe of soup or boiling pasta.
So that’s a peak inside my kitchen. I told you it wouldn’t be exciting. It probably looks a lot like your kitchen.
Now that you’ve seen my favorite kitchen tools, what are yours? Or what would you like to have for the kitchen that you don’t currently own?