Monday, February 28, 2011

10 Kitchen Items I Love/10 I Don't Want or Need

One of the fun things about cooking at my sister-in-law's house is that she owns nearly every kitchen item that is/has been sold at Macy's and, she has an amazing collection of spices and unusual foods. That makes cooking extra interesting. For me, however, there are plenty of popular kitchen items that I simply don't want or need.
Here's my list of cooking implements that I can't live without:
  1. My grandmother's cast iron pan and cast iron dutch oven. I LOVE cooking in these pans! The bonus is that they have been seasoned for over sixty years.
  2. A blender. I use a blender nearly everyday for making smoothies, sauces, soups, and other tasty items.
  3. A good set of heavy bottom pans. When I was in college, I bought the cheapest set of pans I could find. I then promptly burned nearly everything I cooked in them. A good set of pans is priceless.
  4. A toaster-convection oven. Hubby had to convince me that we needed this small counter-top oven but once I started using it, I didn't want to part with it. It heats up much quicker than our regular oven, cooks much faster (since it is convection), saves energy over the cost of using the regular oven, and is the perfect size to cook for two (ie: bake a half chicken, heat up bread for two, etc).
  5. A small but useful set of cooking utensils. For some reason, we stick some utensils in the drawer and they tend to multiply. And multiply. All I really need are a few good knives (paring, chopping, cleaver), my grandmother's wooden spoon, a good vegetable peeler, a basic rolling pin, a good spatula (there is a difference between a "good" and a "bad" spatula), a sturdy whisk, and a couple of large spoons. That's all I need.
  6. A small rice cooker. Since rice is a must in our house every day, we must have a rice cooker. Just a small, basic rice cooker works fine for us.
  7. A toaster. Even though we have a toaster oven, nothing toasts better than a good toaster.
  8. An all purpose mixing bowl. I have a favorite mixing bowl that went into storage with the other few items I didn't want to part with. There are plenty of bowls out there but when you find the 'perfect' one, you want to hang onto it.
  9. A set of baking pans. I tend to bake quite a bit and I have a small collection of baking pans (bread pans, cookie sheets, oblong pans) that I just love.
  10. A great cutting board. For some reasons I am pretty picky about cutting boards.
    Some are too rough and some are too slippery. I had a really nice cutting board that hubby ran the Skillsaw through (he was cutting ox tails, yes, with a Skillsaw, and forgot the cutting bard was underneath and cut the thing in half!). So I will need to find another 'perfect' cutting board when we decide where to settle.

And then there are the things that "everyone" says I should have but which I don't even want in my kitchen. Among the items:

  1. A dishwasher. I much prefer to wash dishes by hand as I find they get cleaner that way. Every dishwasher I have owned has ended up being an expensive drying rack.
  2. An expensive coffee maker which uses even ore expensive "cuplets". You probably know what I am talking about. We had a small, cheap, $10 coffee maker from Walmart for years and it worked fine for hubby's morning coffee.
  3. A Kitchen Aid mixer. Everyone I know has one of these, mostly because they come in cute colors and matches their kitchens. Hubby wanted to buy me one of these many times since I do a lot of baking but each time I would refuse because I much prefer using a cheap mixer or even a whisk for mixing thing and I much prefer using my hands when I am mixing bread dough (how else to know when it is perfectly kneaded?). Then when you take into account how long it takes to take it apart and clean it after use...
  4. A slow cooker. Some people swear by their slow cookers. I have only used one a couple of times and decided I didn't much care for it so this is one item I don't need.
  5. A bread machine. This item was super popular a few years back. I guess I am old fashioned in that, if I am going to bake bread, I want to make it completely by hand.
  6. A Seal a Meal. I think these are clever machines, but I feel that they take much more effort than a simple ziploc bag.
  7. Gadgets. Walk through any kitchen store and you will find an armload of gadgets for every little purpose. Most of these items are for a single use and are really unnecessary.
  8. 50 different pans, 50 different bowl, 50 different utensils. In looking at many people's kitchen, it seems like they think if one item is good, then ten must be better. Since I'm a minimalist, I disagree.
  9. A popcorn popper, a waffle iron, a juicer, a food dehydrator, a deep fryer...there are plenty of items that seem useful when you first look at them. I know I have bought my share of "wow that will be really useful" items only to find that I rarely, if ever, used them. Now if I want to dehydrate a batch of apples, I use the oven. If I want to make egg rolls, I fry them in my cast iron pan. You get the idea...
  10. Plug-in appliances. There are so many specific "plug in" appliances that one can buy. A plug-in wok, a plug-in pan, a plug-in specially oven. These appliances seem very redundant to what most basic appliances (ie: an oven or a stove with a pan on it) can do.

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