Kitchen Tools I Didn’t Know I Needed

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We got married when I was barely 22. Mr. V and I had just graduated from college in May and neither of us really had anything to our name when it came to items to make a home. So we registered for a lot of things, but all basics for the most part (except perhaps our crystal and china and a hefty meat tenderizer).

Many moons ago I wrote about some of my favorite kitchen essentials. And I still stand behind these! But since then, as I’ve grown as a cook and a homemaker, I’ve added some more specialized tools to my arsenal that I adore. I didn’t know how much I would love them until I had them … and now I can’t don’t want to live without them.

Vitamix blender

I love smoothies, and I think they are a great way to fill nutritional needs. But every time I made a smoothie I would be disappointed: my ice wouldn’t crush, berry seeds stuck in my teeth, and I hated cleaning the blender on top of that.

I would have never shelled out the money for a Vitamix, but it was a gift from my mom for my birthday and anniversary last year. I use this sucker ALL THE TIME. I make smoothies constantly, I blend up fruits to make healthy popsicles for my kiddos, I make baby food and sauces and applesauce. It’s incredible.

12″ cast iron skillet

Let’s face it: to be a Southern cook, you gotta have cast iron. I have a tiny cast iron skillet that’s good for melting butter or making sauces, but I think the 12-inch is perfect for getting a great sear on meat, cooking a big skillet of cornbread or Sloppy Chicken Pan Pizza, or frying up something yummy.

Microplane zester/grater

I found this when we were going through my grandmother’s things and “inherited” it (along with the Muffinaire muffin tin). Even at who-knows-how-many-years old, this class Microplane brand grater is razor-sharp. (Somehow I almost always manage to grate my thumb. Whoops.) It’s the perfect tool for zesting citrus, grating Parmesan cheese or ginger root, or making tiny pieces of carrot to hide in my kids’ food.

Mandoline slicer

If you can manage to not slice part of your finger off (I only know about six people who have done that …), a mandoline slicer is awesome for making even potato, carrot, zucchini, or other vegetable slices. Definitely a must if you ever want to make potato chips or zucchini lasagna. Use the guard! And maybe this glove, too.

Silicone muffins pans

I’ve talked about how great my silicone muffin pans are before.

Cookie scoops

I don’t know how my mom never had a cookie scoop. They make perfect, even cookies without having to get your hands messy or use the two-spoon-scraping method I was so familiar with. The large one is great for pouring batter into muffin cups or onto a griddle for pancakes, too.

Cuisinart food processor {This one is a great deal on Amazon! 50% off as of today 2/12/14}

I’ve also talked before about how I acquired and use my food processor. I *think* I could live without it now, but I really don’t want to! I use it anytime I make pastries where you have to cut in butter (like scones), for homemade tortillas, for sauces, to attempt to make almond meal, and more.

 

What are your favorite not-quite-essential but beloved kitchen tools?

6 thoughts on “Kitchen Tools I Didn’t Know I Needed

  1. I’d pretty much agree with that list (though I don’t have a fancy blender and never use our cookie scoop- usually forget we have one!) I always say one of my biggest kitchen essentials is a good kitchen scraper! Small and underrated, but I use mine constantly.
    also we recently got a rice cooler and it’s phenomenal!

  2. As much as I love gadgets, with the tiny kitchen I’ve limited them to toaster oven (handy when you live alone and don’t want to fire up the big oven), crockpot (big 6 qt and a 1 1/2 qt), food processor (the smaller version of the Cuisinart you show) and a hand mixer (which actually lives in the small kitchen rolling island that lives in the dining room).

    Small things make life better. A good set of wooden spoons, an accurate meat thermometer, a good pair of stainless steel tongs and ladles/scoops (I got a pair from Weight Watchers that measure 1/2 and 1 cup-I’ve had them for years and use them constantly),

    Honestly, the best kitchen tool for me is a cup of coffee in my hand 🙂

    • Ha! I will agree with the cup of coffee. And when we had a tiny kitchen, there definitely wasn’t room for these things. Even though we’ve been in little apartments, we have good-sized cabinet space, which is really nice. It makes up for the lack of a garbage disposal or window.

      New favorite kitchen thing: measuring cups and spoons that have the measures etched in them instead of printed. So they can NEVER RUB OFF! Hallelujah!

  3. I don’t have a Vitamix, but I’m with you on the rest. I also agree with the emily e about the scraper. I use mine all the time. I also wouldn’t want to be without heatproof rubber scrapers and my rice cooker.

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