I know it’s silly but every time I visit family (sorry Mom) I realize that not all kitchens are stocked equally. I have to admit that I struggle to bake or cook in other peoples homes. There are things I always have on hand and I take for granted that everyone else does as well. This list may have a few things on it that might surprise you but this is a list of basic essentials that I think every kitchen should have at all times. The top ten items are:
- A SHARP peeler. Not all peelers are created equal and although I have my personal preference (I love European peelers, but they aren’t for everyone) and not matter the style every home should have a sharp peeler. Not only are they an essential item for the kitchen they are inexpensive and should never be dull. Why struggle to peel anything?
- a pair of scissors used only for food items. Scissors come in handy all the time they are actually a tool I use for a lot of different things from cutting herbs, chicken, dicing dried fruit the uses are endless. I love these scissors because they come in many different colors, have a protecting case and they’re dishwasher safe. We use them for food only, since I don’t want scissors used for everyday items to come in contact with anything I plan on ingesting.
- a Thermometer. It doesn’t have to be fancy, in fact the one I use the most is the most basic of tools but I use it every time I make a poultry dish. Since chicken needs to be cooked to kill any bacteria. There are a lot of super fancy thermometers out there costing upwards of $100 for a fancy digital model but this one works perfectly for me.
- A sharp Chef’s knife. I love my chef’s knife and there is nothing worse then trying to cook a meal and struggling with a dull knife to prep dinner. Dull knives are actually dangerous and cause you to use more force than necessary and could cause you to loose control of your knife. I prefer to use an 8″ blade for most of my cutting. Bigger is not always better and I like to have complete control over my knife at all times. Using a blade that is too large could also be a hazard. This is the knife I use but there are many options out there. I protect my blade with knife covers or blade cover and I always hand wash with hot soapy water and let my knife air dry. I also never place my knife in a sink full of soapy water for safety. Other knife options here, here and here
- a Pairing knife. If I was only allowed to have 2 knives in my kitchen the first would be my 8″ chef knife and the second would be a pairing knife. Perfect for small cutting jobs. I use it to cut fruit and veggies, cheeses and smaller items
- parchment paper– I use parchment paper for lining baking sheets it works better than aluminum foil. I also use it for grating, zesting, rolling pie crust or cookies or any time I need a quick clean up. here and here as well
- microplaner-perfect for grating garlic, or cheese, zesting citrus fruits and shaving chocolate. This little tool comes in handy and sometimes for projects you never expected. Here and here
- cutting board- I avoid glass and stone cutting boards like the plague. Unless you like dull knives and constantly having to sharpen yours, glass is one of the worst options to choose. Glass cutting boards could also chip and who wants to potentially eat shards of glass? I prefer to use wood although I have used bamboo in the past. Wood is durable and some woods have anti-septic qualities. They don’t damage or dull knives and since many are manufactured using scraps from the mill they could be considered a renewable option. Some people feel that a wooden cutting board is less sanitary than plastic or some of the other options but this has been proven to be false time and time again. A wood board does need a little TLC but if properly cared for should last for years. One of my favorites and a few others here and here
- a pepper mill is essential. I love fresh cracked pepper and use it exclusively. We don’t even have ground pepper at home. To me it’s tasteless and I personally see no point in even using it. I use this pepper mill but I love this one and this one too.
- kosher salt– Did you know that different salts have different sodium contents? Another thing I don’t and won’t use is iodized salt. I prefer the taste and the texture of kosher salt. My favorite kosher salt is Diamond Crystal. We used it in every restaurant I worked in and I use it at home as well.
Of course there are many other kitchen items that any well stocked home should have but these are just a few of my personal favorites. Another item I can’t live without? My Le Creuset dutch oven.
Are there any items you think I missed? Anything you don’t think is an essential? Let me know what I missed!