Your Kitchen Needs These
I’ll be honest with you, my kitchen is one of the reasons I wanted to live in my current house - it has really pretty stone countertops, nice appliances, and a beautiful gas stove that made me swoon. But my kitchen is small. Like — make one step in any direction and you’ve pretty much stood in the entire kitchen — small. Obviously, I don’t have a large space for cooking and I have even less space for storage. But, I love to cook and I want to be able to cook almost every day. So a small space can’t stop me from indulging my cooking habit, it just means my space and tools must be very intentional and functional. All of my gadgets and appliances must be multi-purposed; I don’t have room for what I call uni-taskers (i.e. anything with a single purpose). When I moved into my house, anything that couldn’t pull double-duty in the kitchen had to go. While I was a little upset at first (no more egg yolk separator thingy! what?) I must admit there is something very freeing about having a minimalist kitchen. Through this process, I’ve determined what gadgets are my must-haves - here are my top 5 kitchen gadgets I can’t do without:
Before you think a microplane grater is some fancy-dancy gadget you can’t possibly see any use for, hear me out. This tool has so many uses to help you season your food: grate citrus zest finely over your food to add a perfect pop of flavor (which is wonderful, especially if you’re trying to cut down on sodium), grate fresh roots such as turmeric and ginger, grate garlic quicker and easier than a garlic press, grate fresh spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, grate parmesan into a perfect fluffy puff of cheese, grate truffles over your pasta, grate dark chocolate over….anything. The list can go on and on here. There is good reason you see microplane graters in the hands of your favorite TV chefs - this thing is like a magic wand for flavor. It cleans easily and takes almost no room for storage. Trust me on this one; you will get plenty of use out this.
Do you ever just want things to be easy, especially when you’re trying to make dinner? Yep, I do too. This squeezer does the trick perfectly - it extracts al of the juice from a lemon (or lime) without rind, pulp, or seeds - and it’s ridiculously easy to use and clean. I think fresh citrus juice makes such a huge difference in your recipes (plus, you aren’t getting the added chemicals that are often found in the juice that comes out of those little plastic lemons.) I used to have one of those pointy-angled-citrus juice contraptions with a cup underneath and it was a royal pain to use and clean. Then I bought a lemon squeezer and threw out that citrus juicer contraption the next day. Its simple to use: cut a lemon in half, place half inside of the squeezer, press the handles together to extract juice, throw the rind away, and rinse the squeezer to clean. Talk about easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
I realize there is nothing new about an expandable veggie steamer basket. In fact, you probably have one in your cupboard right now. So, perhaps this is more of a call to action for you to use it (if you already have one). But, hey, if you don’t have one, it’s definitely worth purchasing. I used to have an electric steamer until began to get very, very worried about the amount of plastic that was coming into contact with my food. Since I don’t use a microwave, I needed another option to steam vegetables. Enter the humble steamer basket: it takes up very little space thanks to its compact design, it expands to fit nearly any pot or skillet, it cleans up easily, and it steams vegetables in no time. If you are currently using a plastic electric steamer (or even the microwave) to steam vegetables, I urge you to give this nifty little steamer basket a try. By the way - did you know that making hard-cooked eggs by steaming them is actually faster and results in a better egg that is easier to peel that if you boil it? Just one more way you can use your steamer basket.
I was not one of those fortunate people gifted a perfectly-seasoned cast iron skillet from their grandmother. I was, however, someone who bought non-stick skillets every few years, only to have them ruined by oils or utensils, not to mention that I started to get concerned about the amount of non-stick coating that was ending up in my food. So, I bit the bullet and bought my own cast-iron skillet last year. And I HATED IT. Like, wanted to throw it away nearly every day because my food stuck to it, I couldn’t figure out the temperature regulation, and it was hard to clean. There’s a reason these pans get handed down from generation to generation - it’s all about seasoning the pan over time with oil and heat so that it becomes a beautifully functional piece of cookware. It turns out that “pre-seasoned” means absolutely nothing; you kind of have to work for this one, but boy, is it worth it. I spent a good 3 months consistently seasoning my skillet until one day it magically turned into my favorite pan. So much that I threw away all of my other skillets. My cast iron cooks everything perfectly, I don’t have to worry about non-stick coating flaking off into my food, and clean up is a as easy as wiping it down with a paper towel after its cooled. Bonus: I took my cast iron skillet camping with my last summer and made everything from pancakes to grilled cheese in it over an open fire. Talk about a multi-tasker.
I’ve always been told that a sharp knife is a safe knife,…but sometimes a sharp knife is just a sharp knife waiting to slice off my finger. I’ll spare you the sordid details, but suffice it to say I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with my super sharp chef’s knife or sharp mandolin slicer. So, I decided to save my fingers (and ER visits) and invest in some kevlar gloves. These gloves are lightweight, washable, and cut-proof: I can attest that these gloves have saved me from many, many would-be kitchen disasters. Cutting hard squashes, grating ginger, mincing garlic, or thinly slicing vegetables just got a whole lot safer. Because nothing ruins dinner faster than nearly chopping your thumb off.