Just because I love good food doesn’t mean I always enjoy working in the kitchen. If I could I’d just will the food to be prepared and cooked. But since it does take physical effort and time, I appreciate anything that can make it more enjoyable. Here are a few items and tools that I love to use−some that make the work easier, some that make me feel like a chef, and some that are just great to look at and use.
These items are listed in order starting with my most loved.
1. The Side Towel. I got the idea to use a side towel from cooking with a friend who went to cooking school, and now I keep a drawer-full of flour-sack towels at hand at all times. Since I’m a little obsessive and hate to have sticky fingers and a messy work surface, having the towel handy takes care of that annoyance.
I bleach the towels so they stay white, and I keep a few colored ones so if friends are cooking with me we can keep track. I didn’t grow up using one–I used to just keep running to the sink to wash my hands or get the washcloth. I am mindful of food safety, for example using soap and water when handling meats and chicken.
2. Prep Bowls. Small, medium, and large prep bowls are God’s gift in the kitchen. Before I had them there were never enough containers to line up ingredients. With measuring markings on the medium-sized ones, I’ve multiplied my measuring cup capacity. I love having them at eye-level near my work space so they’re easy to grab. The ones from Pampered Chef have covers. Bed Bath & Beyond is where I got my mini and large ones.
3. Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons. These stainless steel measuring cups and spoons were a splurge from somewhere upscale, probably Williams-Sonoma. I already had plastic ones so I didn’t need these. But they’re so sleek and well-designed that I just love measuring with them, even after years.
4. Quality Knives. Most people know that a good knife is a kitchen asset. I’m glad I shelled out for mine, which are from the Wusthof Classic line. I enjoy the feel of them in my hand and their ability to hold an edge. I gradually built my arsenal to what it is today: a 6 1/2 inch santoku, an 8-inch and a 6-inch cook’s knife, a 4 1/2- inch utility knife, and a 3 1/2-inch paring knife. These few knives fill most of my cutting needs.
5. Bamboo Fiber Mixing Bowls. When a friend who is a naturopathic doctor stayed with us a while back, she was concerned about the safety of the polypropylene bowls and storage containers that I had in my cupboards in abundance. So when a Pampered Chef catalog made the rounds, I bought a set of these renewable-resource bowls. They’re lightweight so I can lift them easily in and out of the cupboard, they’ve held up well over about a year, and their clean, simple lines make them a joy to look at and use. Find them also through Amazon.com.
6. Wide-Mouth Stainless Steel Funnel. This tool brings to mind the salt-of-the earth Amish population that infuses our area, because it’s a staple for canning. It makes me feel less chef-y and more pioneer woman. I bought it on a whim, but it’s been amazingly handy−I find myself using it at least once a week.
What tools enhance your time in the kitchen?