5 Kitchen Must-haves
My kitchen is one of my happy places. It could be because of so many fond family memories around food. But it's also a place I can be creative; I love experimenting with creating (and eating) food. I learned that if you know certain basics, you can experiment and trust that things will still come out tasty.
Anyone who spends any significant time in the kitchen will develop a connection with, a love really, for certain kitchen tools. Here are my top five must-haves.
1. A good chef's knife...
(and steel - because...what chef uses a dull knife?!) I've watched way too many cooking shows and have learned lots of tips - like cutting an onion with a sharp knife reduces the chance (and amount) of tears because the cutting goes faster and it crushes less of the cell walls so less syn-propanethial-S-oxide (I had to look it up LOL) is released. My current knife is about 15 years old and I bought it as someone's moving sale. It was actually part of a set, but I used so little of the other knives, I gave them away. I have other knives, a couple of pairing-size knives but my 8" chef's knife is what gets the most use.
2. A stand mixer (Kitchenaid Classic Plus)
It's the one kitchen tool I have that does not get regular use, but I can't see my kitchen without one. It can't be beat at creaming butter and sugar and that is foundational in baking. I also use it to whip cream. A stick blender with whisk attachment also does a good whipping job, but if I had to choose, I'd take my stand mixer every time.
3. Vitamix (Model 5200)
There was a period of time after I first got my Vitamix, when I would say "Vitamix," and people would respond, "oh, a blender." To which I would reply, "No!," and then my best friend would proceed to explain to them that it's not just a blender, it's a Vitamix. It was actually kinda funny, but I was being very serious. There are a lot of great blender choices on the market now, compared to 15 years ago, but I think I will always be a Vitamix girl. My uncle has a Vitamix that is my age (and I'm approaching middle age). Seriously! It was maybe 14 years ago when he ground some flaxseed in his and I could not believe my eyes. It took about 60 seconds and it was so finely milled. I used to spend 10 minutes grinding flax in one of those mini-chopper things. After seeing that, a Vitamix was a must-have.
So generally, there's the base and there are two different containers - one for dry ingredients (i.e. grinding flax, etc) and one for wet ingredients (smoothies, soups, hummus, butter, frozen treats). It pulverizes!! It does not smooth blackberry seeds, but it does break them down. Well, it may if I ran it long it enough, but since my aim is not soup...note: the speed of the rotation will heat what's in it if it runs for too long. I make whole food smoothies with grapefruit and kale and I don't remove seeds, and but I do remove only the hard bottom part of the kale stem (personal texture preference).
I bought mine at Costco (which currently has one for just under $400). Then, it was a much bigger bundle at about $700+ but still a steal because it included both wet and dry containers and a extra large wet container, plus a 7" Neova saucepan which could have easily made it onto this list. And...Vitamix recently released a stainless steel container, which keeps whispering my name and making me give my tumeric-stained wet container the side-eye. Ain't it so pretty?
4. Glass Containers
Bowls, cups, bottles, glasses, plates, you name it...well, maybe that is all there is to name. Ceramic items work great too, but I love glass. Some I've purchased, but especially bottles, I save. They are easy to clean, you can see when they are not clean, you can see what's in them and you can store almost anything in them. Glass is also great for brewing things like kombucha and water kefir, and for making and storing tinctures - all of which I do and you do NOT want those to mix with plastic. They will quickly leach chemicals from the plastic. Besides, our society uses tooooo much plastic anyway. Even without plastic dishes, plastic utensils, and refusing plastic shopping bags, the amount of plastic that still passes through my kitchen is saddening.
...no electricity needed. I actually have the GO Berkey System, and as a household of one, it's perfect; and I store my water in glass containers ;-). I've even packed and traveled with it. They do have larger ones for larger families/groups. They are simple to clean and the black filters can last up to 9 years (depending on usage of course). Berkey has also put lab results of their filters on their website (under Resources). It states, "The Black Berkey filters have been tested by several EPA-accredited laboratories including the Department of Toxicology and Environmental Science at Louisiana University, Spectrum Labs, and the University of Phoenix. This extensive testing confirmed that the Black Berkey Purification Elements far exceed EPA and ANSI/NSF (Std. 53) protocol." The filter removes heavy metals, microorganisms, and pharmaceutical contaminants. There is a fluoride filter available (they explain why it's a separate filter) and the water tastes good. An all-around win.
6. Omega Juicer (Model CNC80S)
This is my newest kitchen baby and I am in love, so it was added as a bonus. So far, I've juiced fruits, veggies, and made sorbet and frozen yogurt (pictured: peach sorbet and blueberry frozen yogurt). I have yet to try nut milk (tip found somewhere online: blend nuts and water, then add to juicer) and pasta extrusion. With juicing, it has handled everything I've thrown at it so far from leafy greens, to citrus, to garlic, ginger, and carrots. It does need fiber/harder produce to help move the pulp through, so I've done citrus and carrots, which worked much better than citrus alone.
What favorite tool do you have in your kitchen?
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