Today I thought I would talk about my favorite kitchen items. These are the items that I use weekly if not daily. They are tools that make prepping for a meal or dessert funner. Yes, I said funner, get over it. We artsy fartsy creative types like to make up words. Embrace it. Some of these serve no other purpose other than they are cute and colorful. Like me. (wink-wink)
My two favorite stores to shop for kitchen items are hands down, Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table (pronounced sir la tahb.) It’s French for sexy man sitting at a table. Ha! You wish. That’s not what it means. It actually means On The Table. Anyway, it’s a favorite store of mine. I wonder what they were doing “on the table” when they came up with that name…but I digress.
There are also a handful of online stores that I like to frequent. Amazon is probably the main one because I can get virtually any brand there and shipping is free. I will provide links to the items below so that you can look into adding some of these fine products to your kitchen (click on the amazon links to the lower left, you will help sponsor this site).
Well, now seems as good a time as any to share why I chose these 27 items, how I use them and where you can get them. Let’s get busy.
These first 9 items are all from Tovolo. Their website shows their products and gives you a list of stores that carry their products as you can’t buy them directly from Tovolo. Visit Tovolo HERE (or by clicking on the caption under the collage above) because they have by far some of the best quality products I’ve used. The stainless steel silicone spoons and spatulas/turners are the bomb! They are comfy in my hand, solid/sturdy, heat resistant up to 600 degrees, and easy to maintain. Go ahead and set off that smoke detector. Your Tovolo spoon will still be there after Mr. January, February, June and November from the local Fireman’s calendar leave your house. I promise. They come in lots of colors- up to 38 different ones depending on the spoon/spatula/turner you buy.
Invest in a zester. For normal run of the mill zesting I’ll use a Microplane grater, but for something prettier, or more substantial I use this to flavor my teas by adding the zest to simple syrups to infuse some citrus flavor- the ideas are endless. You can even sugar the zest and make pretty decorations on a cake. Or you can tie a bunch of them together as a garnish on your Osso Bucco dish like I did in Culinary School. (Pictured above)
The piggy scraper is just too cute not to have. I have lots of other scrapers, but they’re boring. Pigs make things more fun. Sometimes I even oink when I’m using one. TSM thinks I need therapy. Whatev’s…
Everyone should have a good set of solid, quality tongs in their arsenal. From grilling, to turning chicken breasts in a saute pan, to grabbing things from your little Fry Daddy fryer, you will wonder why you went so long before buying a pair. Once I asked TSM if he’d sat in some sugar because he had a SWEET looking hiney, and I pinched him with these tongs. Gotta keep things spicy my friends. Don’t worry, no TSM’s were injured in the making of this blog- the tips are silicone.
Stainless steel bowl- perfect for tempering chocolate over a double boiler, or for whipping cream for desserts, or making Hollandaise, or chilling cookie dough.
Mini spatulas- the cute orange ones in the upper right hand side- are great for getting the last drop of product out of small cans, or for small meal preps like a scrambled egg, or getting condiments out of jars. Also, they’re ADORABLE and you can never have too many adorable mini spatulas/scrapers in your kitchen. I especially like them for spreading tuna or egg salad sandwich on the sammich’s I make TSM for lunch.
My first favorite item in this second set is the cutting board with a silicone grippy edge made by Pampered Chef. This board is reversible with a well for catching meat juices on one side, and flat on the other. It is made of durable polypropylene. This cutting board is the only cutting board I’ve used going on 5 years now. I own 4 of them. One for poultry, one for red meats one for fruits and veggies and one for fish. They stay put, don’t dull my knives, and unlike wooden or glass cutting boards, this one doesn’t grate on your nerves like a giant fingernail on the chalkboard of life.
The second item is something I have 4 of because I come up with so many ideas- or partial ideas I don’t want to forget. It is a recipe journal. If you like to create dishes that call for a little bit of this and a little bit of that and then find that people ask for your recipe and you’re all like , “Um, I’m just a simple starving, gastronomic genius that can create Michelin Star type dishes, I don’t measure anything”… well, this journal can come to the rescue. Just keep track of ideas and what you add as you’re creating your next culinary masterpiece. And stop being so narcissistic. (wink)
Once you own your own spice jars and something to stick them on you’ll wonder what took you so long to invest in this next kitchen tool. I LOVE these and although I don’t have as many as I’d like, this is on my Christmas list. I like to buy my spices from a local spice merchant and put them in my own jars. I currently have an entire cabinet and a plastic storage bin full of dried spices and herbs and specialty salts and peppers. I have an addiction. I’d seek help, but this addiction is part of what makes me so fabulous. And you don’t wanna see me when I’m not fabulous. It’s not pretty folks. Not.Pretty.At.All!
Silicon pot grippies- ‘Nuff said. They don’t take up as much room as the fabric kind, they’re thick so the heat won’t seep through your cotton hot pad holder and burn your digits, and they’re easier to wash and store. BUY THESE! In fact buy 4.
Collapsible silicone measuring cups. I actually bought these for culinary school because my stainless ones too up too much room in my knife kit. I love them. I use them all the time. Especially when I’m traveling and know I’ll need to bring a set with em. Easy to clean, store and best of all, they’re very heat resistant.
Bamboo Salt Pig. I use sea salt and Kosher salt and I need a place to store it. I bought this exact Bamboo Salt Pig from a local high-end grocery store and I love it. I originally got the same one Alton Brown uses on his show, Good Eats, but I didn’t’ like it at all. It was hard to clean, got dirty quickly, and the lid was always falling on me. I gave it to my step dad.
A bench knife- aka a pastry scraper. This tool is a multi-tasker. You can scrap up dough, or use it to scoop up veggies, cut dough, smooth frosting on a cake, the possibilities are endless and you should buy two of them.
Glass prep bowls. Make sure they are sturdy and tempered. My favorites happen to be from Pampered Chef. I don’t like all of the Pampered Chef products but they got it right when it comes to their glass kitchen bowls. Anything glass from Pampered Chef is a good, quality investment.
Multiple kinds of nesting bowls for serving and prep work. I also have a bowl addiction. Between the bacon addiction, the spices addiction and my bowl addiction I could keep a LOT of 12-step groups in business for quite some time. I love colorful bowls. I even have one dedicated to using as a garbage bowl while I prep. And by the way, I was using a garbage bowl LONG before Rachael Ray hit the scene. I probably invented it and was totally robbed of royalties and fame. Now I’m sad. Great.
And last but not least:
A Silpat- arguably the best thing ever invented. It works like parchment but won’t brown, burn get brittle, and best of all it saves a few trees because you don’t have to toss it after 1 or 2 uses. Nothing sticks to this Silpat mat. NOTHING. You can even use this to roll out pie crusts and cookie doughs. Then just give it a wash, dry it and transfer it to a cookie sheet or baking pan. I store mine rolled up inside an empty paper towel tube. This thing does attract fuzzies and pet hair, so that’s why I store mine rolled up.
Stirsby’s. The most amazing spatula, wooden spoon, and scraper in one. And if you’re into that sort of thing, use it to spank your hubby’s toosh while enjoying happy nekked time in the bedroom. Just sanitize it in boiling water afterwards if you do…and don’t tell me about it you kinky hornball.
A kitchen scale. I actually own the one in the picture below. It was very affordable and of the 3 scales I’ve owned I like this one the best. I got it at Target.
A honing tool. This is to hone your knives. It is NOT a sharpener. Those so called sharpeners that knife companies push on consumers are nothing more than a honing tool. But they make you think they will sharpen your knife so you’ll buy one. As you use your knife the edge starts to feather. This is undetectable to the naked eye. A honing tool helps to realign the deformed edge. It doesn’t remove metal from the blade like sharpening does, it just realigns it. You should hone your knife before and after each use, and even in between large projects.
Colored nesting serving and prep bowls. These bowls are my favorite. I got them at Williams Sonoma. I use them for everything- making potato salad, making brownie batter or cookie dough and one of them is even being used as a water dish for the dogs down in our family room. Spazzhat and Little Girl give them 4 paws up!
I love knives like John Locke from LOST loves knives. When I hold a knife I turn into that creepy, almost naked little Hobbit that’s all “Fatal Attraction” over some gold ring. I just lose myself when I’m chopping, dicing, slicing. I love my knives and my favorite brand hands down is Shun.
These knives are Lorena Bobbet’s favorite kind of knife: SHARP! They are freaky sharp right out of the box. You look at this knife and it will slice you. The best part is that it’s so sharp you won’t know you’ve been cut until you see blood. I’ve nicked myself a few times with these knives, but not nearly as badly as I’ve sliced myself with less superior knives. Respect a sharp knife and you won’t get hurt. Freak out over it and you’ll lose a finger tip or two.
Groovy recipe card holder with magnet- better known as a Recipe Rock. The best product I’ve seen for putting a recipe card or printed recipe near you without worrying about spilling on it, or getting it dirty. The next best idea is to clip your recipe to a dress pant hanger and hang it over the knob of the cabinet closest to where you’re cooking. But a hanger in your kitchen looks ghetto and my alter ego, Shaniqua doesn’t do ghetto.
This about sums up my first installment of my favorite kitchen things. I hope you’ve learned some things and I trust you’ve found a few items that you either currently have in your kitchen, or that are on your wish list. If you have a question about any of the products I shared with you today, I’m more than happy to answer them, just shoot me an email. I’ll cite a list of links below so you can look these items up in your free time and maybe even buy some!
List of shops that sell the products I shared with you today:
Pampered Chef (for the prep bowls and cutting board)
Magnetized Spice Rack with spices- (just replace with your own spices so you know they’re fresh)
Silicone Pan Grippy’s (aka pinch grips)
Collapsible Measuring Cups
Round Bamboo Salt Pig/Box
Stainless Steel Bench Knife/scraper
Miscellaneous bowls- It varies. I get some from Kohl’s, Williams Sonoma, Target, Sur La Table, and other local kitchen stores.
Silpat Baking Mat
Escali digital scale
Colorful Nestled Bowls (Williams Sonoma)
The link back to the website where I found the Featured Image picture: “A few of my favorite things”
MY FAVORITE THINGS PART 2:For some reason my WordPress Theme did not like this post and it kept causing issues with my website. As a result I thought I’d just tack it onto Part 1 so you could enjoy them both in the same post!!
I might possibly have a teensy kitchen tool/gadget addiction. Scratch that. I undoubtedly have a huge kitchen tool addiction. I just love collecting things to use in the kitchen. I think the biggest reason TSM doesn’t mind too terribly is because I use each and every tool that I own. Nothing collects dust. If I had more kitchen space I’d fill it because I have a list of things I’d still like to add to kitchen. But alas, I’ve run out of space. I refuse to start filling spare bedrooms with kitchen goodies, so until I get a larger kitchen or a bigger pantry, my addiction will have to be placed on hold.
I love sharing with you the tools that I find most helpful in the kitchen. I will highlight a tool that I own, and tell you how I use it and what I like and or don’t like about it. There is rarely anything that I don’t like about the tools in my kitchen, but on occasion it does happen. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to just talk about each item in the first row, then go to the next three items in the middle row, and finally, the last three items in the bottom row. I’ll include source links so that you can find these products if you so desire, at the bottom of this post.
Top Row- first item on left: This is a cooling rack by The Pampered Chef. I’ve stated before that there are several Pampered Chef tools that I don’t care for. I can find better or similar quality for less at my local high-end kitchen stores, but for the items that Pampered Chef sells that I do care for, I like to tell everyone about them. I am hard on my kitchen tools because I use them all the time. I use my pots and pans more in one week than most people use them in 1 month. This cooling rack has held up to the hustling of chaotic activity that is my kitchen. I own two of them. If I had room, I’d order two more. They can be stacked, you can fold the legs under the rack if you only want a little clearance between the counter and what you place on top, or you can extend the legs so you can place something underneath or for better air circulation and faster cooling times. They are a good price and they are sturdy and easy to clean and store.
Top Row- middle item: This is what’s known as a knife magnet. This is the only way I’ll store my knives. I’m leaving this one behind when we move because I’d like to use a bamboo covered knife magnet in my next home. I take good care of my expensive knives, so I don’t have any scratches on them from the magnet, but others that come into my home are not so careful, so the extra damage control benefit of a steel magnet covered in a thin sheet of bamboo appeals to me. Most magnets can hold 7-8 knives depending on size. Mine is currently holding two 8-Inch chef knives, one 9-inch chef knife, a 5 inch santoku knife, a 7 inch utility knife and two paring knives and a honing steel. These are priced around $30-$40.
Top Row- last item pictured right: Another Pampered Chef item. Why? Because this is the best one I’ve ever run across. I’ve had the same Pampered Chef Pizza Cutter for 6 years and it is still as good as new. Not one nick on that blade and it’s still as sharp as all get out. Best $12.00 I ever spent. Don’t come yelling at me if the price has gone up since I purchased mine. I use this for cutting more than just pizza. I cut dessert bars, crusts, tortillas, assorted doughs, and shallow dished entrée’s. This tool is a multi-tasker.
Middle Row- first item pictured left: The Mini Serving Spatula from the Pampered Chef. No, I don’t work for them, I’m not a consultant and I am not getting paid one red cent by them. I should be, but I’m not. Anyway, I own two. I’d like 12. I love them. They score the perfect 1″ dessert bar, they’re great for serving pizza, getting smaller cookies off cookie sheets, serving pie or cake. I seriously love these. I would decorate a room in my house with them if I thought it was prudent.
Middle Row- middle picture: These glass nesting bowls first caught my eye while watching a Food Network show. Pick one- most the chefs/cooks were using these bowls and you couldn’t find them ANYWHERE! Thanks to my ever-resourceful friend Hillary, The Stud Muffin was able to purchase a lovely set of these for my birthday last year. Had she not located these, I’d still be doing incorrect Google Keyword searches and coming up empty-handed. Oh, you can buy them online from Kohl’s. They are heavy, sturdy, pretty, and I love them.
Middle Row- last item pictured right: Cuisinart Immersion Blender. Also known as a Stick Blender. I would be lost without this blender. I use it to partially puree soups to thicken them (saves calories because I don’t have to use a roux) I use this to start my homemade mayo, to blend sauces, small batches of applesauce- it’s easy to use, clean and store. Best of all you can get one if a funky, festive color for about $34. They are almost always on sale for about $25. Oh, this little blender is also great for whisking together all the ingredients for homemade dressings, too!
Bottom Row- first item pictured left: Stoneware. Everyone needs stoneware. I have one that I use for pizza, and one that I use for my Spritz cookies every Christmas because for some reason, they turn out better on that stone. I also use my stoneware for cooking bacon and meatballs in the oven. My stoneware happens to be from The Pampered Chef, but I know there are other companies out there that make good stoneware. Wherever you decide to get it, wash it with scalding hot water and a soft, nylon-bristled brush only. Soap doesn’t get things clean, it just loosens dirt. Hot water sterilizes. Trust me. I didn’t get a 97% on my food safety and sanitation certification because I’m lucky. Soap doesn’t kill germs. It loosens food which can cause bacteria if it is left on. The super hot water gushing over your dishes is what actually cleans and sterilizes your dishes. Use soap and whatever you bake on your stone next will taste like soap. Hand to God. I don’t kid about this stuff. “Ain’t no one got time fo’ that!”
Bottom Row- middle picture: So, this pair of kitchen shears is one of the best I’ve ever owned. I received it with my knife kit when I started culinary school. It’s a Mercer 8-inch kitchen shears. The sharpest, sturdiest set of shears I’ve owned, short of the $500 pair I bought while in Beauty School. They don’t rust, they don’t get funky brown spots (that some stainless steel products get on them) they stay sharp, don’t warp, and are super easy to clean. They can hack through a chicken with ease, and cut a delicate, thin crust pizza with pizazz. How’s that for using FIVE z’s in a sentence? I thought it was pretty awesomsauce myself.
Bottom Row- last item, pictured right: Deli containers!!! These things ROCK. Seriously. I love them They come in 1-cup, pint (2-cups) and Quart (4-cup) sizes. I use these for left overs and for prepping recipes (mise en place) and for storing my homemade stocks. I’m actually running low but they come in like 25 per case and I don’t need 25. I could do with 12 of each. So who wants to go in on an order with me?
The final nine items…
Isn’t this fun? I know I’m having fun. I’m tired, but I’m having fun. Scroll down to see the picture.
Top Row, first item pictured left: Good, quality, stainless steel kitchen tools. These are a must for when you want to spice up your table setting with some nice serving tools, OR for use while cooking with your stainless cookware. They are heavier, high quality, pretty, and they never break, warp, burn, melt or split. As much as I love my nylon and bamboo kitchen tools, I do have to replace those, and I’ve never had to replace a stainless kitchen tool. Not unless I lost it or it got attacked by the garbage disposal. Which TSM has been known to do with most of my stainless kitchen tools. At least he lets me buy new ones to replace the ones that got destroyed.
Top Row- middle item: Bamboo kitchen tools. These are great for mixing batters, doughs, stirring sauces, etc. I love them for stir-frying, and cooking ground beef. I use them on my stainless and non-stick cookware. I know- I know. Non-stick is evil. I’m working on eliminating it from my kitchen, but for now, I don’t have any other replacements or the budget to replace them with stainless or ceramic, so that will have to wait. Until then, I have bamboo and I could not run my kitchen without these.
Top Row- last item pictured right: Balloon Whisks. You have to get one with a thick handle. The ones with the skinny, or twisted wire handles are a recipe for carpal-tunnel. Trust me. It’s hard enough to whisk for 15-20 minutes solid when you’re making a homemade mayo, or other emulsion you don’t need carpal tunnel on top of your fatigued and burning arm muscles. Be sure to switch sides so you don’t get bigger biceps on one arm vs. the other. You don’t need people thinking you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger from the right, and Napoleon Dynamite from the left. I own Kuhn Rikon whisks. I prefer their stainless to their silicone coated. Those aren’t sturdy enough and the tines of the whisk end up going all over the place when I try to whisk something that has viscosity thicker than water.
Middle Row- first item pictured left: A good quality digital kitchen thermometer. One that can stand up to the heat and the display doesn’t melt. Sadly my Food Network one goes bezerk when I have to clip it onto a pan of oil for frying. The darn thing turns black and I can’t see ONE number. The one I have pictured below doesn’t do that. Buy that one. Bobby Flay has enough money. Actually, buy this one… the one pictured is darn near impossible to find. Not worth it.
Middle Row- middle picture: Oxo Easy-Read measuring cups. Contrary to popular belief there is not one bit of difference in volume between a measuring cup used for liquids and ones used for dry ingredients. They invented the ones for liquids because they felt American housewives were too daft to figure out how to get 1 cup of water to her mixing bowl without spilling it- so the glass ones with the spout and a little extra room left over at the top were invented. Bam! Instant profits!! Not that I condone trying to get 1 cup of flour into a measuring cup that is better suited for measuring water, but if you are ever in a pinch, you can use your dry ingredient measuring cups for liquid. The trick is this- use the same type of measuring cup throughout the entire recipe. If you’re going to use your dry measuring cups for liquids then use those throughout the entire recipe. Don’t switch up mid recipe and go over to your glass ones. Got it? Good. I like these Oxo ones because I don’t have to bend my body into positions that only a Russian gymnast could manage just to see if I got exactly one cup of milk into my measuring cup. The only downside is that if you wash these in the dishwasher, they will start to fade and get etched. Not pretty!!
Middle row- last item pictured right: Stainless measuring spoons. I buy mine from Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table. (Sir la Tahb) I own 3 sets. I use each and every one of them. I own three sets because TSM keeps dropping them down the dishwasher and grinding them into little ninja weapons. Just last week I lost my favorite half teaspoon. I nearly almost cried. But then I remembered that he’d have to buy me a replacement some day. Then I smiled. I love the longer narrower ones for getting into those little spice jars. I don’t care for the rounded ones anymore. Speaking of rounded ones. Did you see the ones Giada De Laurentiis is selling at Target? How the holy heck am I supposed to get those into a bottle of anything? What is this? Is she trying to turn me into the Hulk? Good grief. It’s a measuring spoon, not a hard hat for a construction worker. It HAS to fit into a bottle of cinnamon, or cream of tartar, or oregano. It’s like “Hey, let’s make square spoons for ROUND holes and drive housewives mad…then, let’s over enunciate the word PAN Cheyetta (pancetta). You’d never know that I actually like Giada. Maybe I shouldn’t blog at 3:00 in the morning.
Okie dokie. I’ve gotten some sleep, and although it’s well past midnight here, I find I do my best work late at night. Let’s finish up this last row of awesome kitchen tools.
Bottom Row- first item pictured left: Microplane graters. I have 4. Two rasps, a hand-held one for hard cheeses, and the box grater pictured below. I’ve never had a bad experience with any of their products. They are wicked sharp. Made well, and are easy to clean and care for. If you use lots of citrus, nutmeg, garlic, cheese, chocolate, veggies… get thyself to a store and buyest one of these! Noweth!
Bottom Row- middle picture: Offset spatulas. These puppies are an invaluable tool for anyone that likes to bake. These come in handy when you’re trying to even out batter in a baking dish before it goes into the oven, or for spreading frosting’s and other spreadable goodies. I use these in a pinch when I’m making a peanut butter sammich! I own both the small and large one and can’t imagine being without them. The small one is great at frosting cut-out cookies and brownies.
Bottom Row- last item pictured right: A potato ricer. MUST have for the smoothest, creamiest, bestest, yummiest mashed potatoes in the WURLD! Seriously. I kid you not. I wish I had a food mill, but I do not. So the next best (and more affordable) option is a potato ricer. For about $30.00 you can get a nice quality stainless one with different sized grates so you can rice fatter or skinnier “strings” of potatoes. I’ve used this for applesauce and sweet potatoes, too. Sweet potatoes are stringier, however.
So there you have it! Eighteen additional kitchen tools and gadgets that every serious cook should consider having in their kitchen. And if it’s not in the budget, add it to your Christmas or Birthday wish list. Or heck, start telling people you demand gifts on National Bacon day. Any excuse to get some new kitchen tools is a good excuse to me. I probably need to point out that my collection of kitchen tools has spanned well over 15 years. That is one of the biggest reasons that I buy quality items. So that once I buy something, I hopefully won’t need to replace it any time soon.
Before I go, I’d like to hear your thoughts on what kitchen items you can’t live without. Just comment below!
List of shops that sell the products that I shared with you today:
For every Pampered Chef item listed: The Pampered Chef, Ltd. (Or you can contact a local consultant. I happen to know like 40 of them, so shout me a holler-down and I might be able to hook you up with an awesome consultant in your area!)
Magnetic Knife Bar
Deep angled nesting bowls. I can’t find these on the Kohl’s website.
Plastic Deli Containers (all sizes, scroll through the page)
Stainless Steel Cooking Utensils (that you will own forever! These are an investment)
Off set Spatulas
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