Back when Greyson and I created our wedding registry, I made sure to add every item I thought I’d need to start out in my first kitchen. Little did I know, there was a secret list of items that didn’t cross my mind at all. I ended up needing each and every one – and eventually buying all of them – within my first year as a beginner home cook. These are my kitchen essentials.
10. Rubber Spatulas, because using a spoon to try and scoop out the last of the batter when you know it’ll make one more muffin is just annoying.
9. A Lemon Zester is a nifty kitchen tool, because lemon zest is huge these days. It’s used in a lot of new recipes (like in my Lemon Basil Shrimp Pasta). I thought I could use a cheese grater to get my lemon zest, but a good lemon zester is designed in a different way. It makes sure you catch those big chunks of lemon. As a side-note, when you’re zesting lemons, make sure you don’t get any of the white inner peel. It does not taste good.
8. I resisted buying a Meat Thermometer for the longest time. I thought, why can’t I just look at my meat to know if it’s cooked? Or cut it open? Well… Sometimes you seriously can’t tell by looking at it. I’m still not exactly sure what the difference is between medium and medium-well steak. But my meat thermometer knows.
7. My portable Kitchen Scale is always handy on my counter. The fact is many recipes use ounces for measurements, and there’s just no way to know how many ounces something is by looking at it. I thought I could get by without one, and I ended up avoiding a lot of great recipes just because I couldn’t weigh things.
6. A stove-top Grill Pan. Living in Colorado, I don’t usually get to cook on my outdoor grill. I’m hoping to finally get the chance this summer. But in the meantime, I like getting the grill experience year-round. A grill pan is the only way I can get those mouth-watering & sizzling grill marks on my meat and veggies whenever I want.
5. Most of us put a Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer on our registry. When I first started out, I bought a mixer that had only 3 settings: low, medium, and high. I soon found out there’s a whole lot in between, and traded up for a multi-speed hand mixer with – gasp – 9 whole speed settings. One day, though, I will get a stand mixer. And it will be awesome.
4. For the people who have a Slow Cooker, it’s common sense. For the people who don’t have one, they don’t know how great it is. But it’s like a cell phone – once you have one, you can’t imagine your life without it. There’s a plethora of excellent slow-cooker recipes online. (If you’re looking for some, here are the one’s I’ve found on Pinterest.) There’s a huge benefit to being able to throw a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker, go run your errands and work for the day, then come back to a dinner that’s already made. Just do it!
3. An Immersion Blender. I didn’t even realize I needed one, until the first time I made a pureed soup and thought it would be a good idea to put it in the food processor, for some reason. I overlooked the “liquid fill line” and ended up with soup all over my kitchen counter. So the next time I thought I’d puree my soup in my countertop blender in batches. What a mess. With the spilling, separate bowl for the pureed soup, and pouring things all over the place – it was a complete disaster. I finally bought an immersion blender. It’s unbelievably convenient to be able to just stick it in my soup pot, turn it on, and have pureed soup in minutes. Whoever invented it is my soup hero.
2. An Electric Tea Kettle. Okay, hear me out. There’s the obvious function of boiling water in a matter of a minute or two to pour over your tea. But there’s a huge benefit to having an electric kettle that’s often overlooked – it gives you clean, boiled water when you’re in a rush. I’ve nearly completed making many a pasta sauce, only to realize that I’ve forgotten to cook my pasta entirely. With an electric tea kettle, I get the boiling water in a minute, pour it in my pasta pot, and have my pasta ready in no time. Otherwise I’d literally have to watch the pot, and we all know a watched pot of water never boils.
1. A pre-seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set. I’ve played with nonstick cookware and stainless steel, but there’s nothing like a cast iron skillet. It heats all around at the same temperature and you can transfer it into the oven if you need to. It’s meant to not allow any sticking, but still just a light dash of vegetable oil will make sure all your meat and veggies come out perfectly browned and sauteed. If you can’t get a whole set, I’d recommend a single skillet. Thank me later. ;}
There you have it – my kitchen essentials! Let me know if you get to try any of these out and if you use them in a way I haven’t mentioned. I’d love to add more tips and tricks to this list!
(This post has been submitted to a link party at Buns In My Oven.)