Favorite Kitchen Things

This list is a work in progress. 

And I'll state this right up front:  I do not have a fancy kitchen.  We live in an older home and have invested a lot of time, energy, and funds into the outside of our home: landscaping, parks, gardens, places for the kids to play, etc.  We've done some cosmetic improvements (painting, mostly) to the inside and have plans to remodel "one day".  But my kitchen, like the rest of the house, is tiny.  And old.  My countertops are so dated that if we keep them long enough they'll come back in style.

I say all of that to say this:  you do not have to have a double wall oven, 6-burner gas cooktop, and pretty countertops to cook a good meal.  Don't get me wrong:  I'd love to have those things at some point in the future.  But for now--I'm making great due with what I have.

And I'm absolutely not endorsed by any company. 

I'm just a girl. 

Who likes to cook. 

Now, back to the subject at-hand.

My all-time favorite kitchen tool are these tongs. 

Stainless Steel 12" Tongs
These things would be on my top-ten list of things to bring to a deserted island.  They are like having a second pair of hands in the kitchen.  I use them to turn sauteing chicken, shuffle veggies around in a skillet, remove hot pot lids, and even turn off a burner knob to avoid having my skin cooked by steam.  I have also used them to retrieve terribly disgusting things like a milk-containing sippy cup that had been MIA and then was found under the passenger seat of my car, three weeks later, in the summer, and take it directly to the trash can.  Never even had to touch the sucker. 

Here's where my tongs were purchased.

Because my kitchen is small, I don't have the luxury of storing 25 different rubber spatulas.  I use these two almost every time I cook and/or bake.  A good rubber spatula will have a high heat resistance and will be very pliable.  I credit these babies with helping me not gain 1,000 pounds from snitching batter while I bake.  I (usually) only let myself lick what's left in the bowl after I've scraped it with the spatulas, which, with these little tools, isn't much.

The white one, above, is from a 2005 Pampered Chef party.  It has seen some heat and has been used extensively; I couldn't be happier with it.

You can get it here.

The pink one I just bought this summer here.

I've also seen some pretty good ones in Paula Deen's line at Wal-Mart.

I also use this one for flipping pancakes, sauteing chicken, etc.

Icing Spatulas:
My world changed the day I realized I didn't have to use a butter knife to smoothly ice a three-layer cake.

The white plastic icing spatula is from here.

The center spatula is by Wilton:  I bought it at Hobby Lobby.

The large spatula on the right is from here.  At $32, it's pricey.  But I am a happy girl every time I use it.  No regrets.

Ahhh, whisks.  Hello, friends.

The littlest one on the left is my buddy.  Years ago, a friend gave me a lemonade mix and it was attached.  I love to use it to make dressing right in a large measuring cup, but I have not personally seen one this tiny in a store. 

The center one came with a non-stick cookware set we got as a wedding gift.  The pots and pans have long since been tossed, but this whisk survived the cut.  It's great to mix things that would get frustratingly lodged inside the cage of a tighter wire whisk.  A similar silicone whisk can be found here.

The whisk on the right is a very standard balloon whisk.  Love it.  Use it almost every time I cook.  I employ it's usefulness when I am too lazy to sift my flour and instead whisk the heck out of it and it's fellow dry ingredients in a bowl.   Works great.

Wooden Spoons
I have a friend who absolutely cannot stand kitchen tools with wooden handles; something about the feel of them in her hand makes her go berserk.  (I get that way about snaggy, polyester-backed cheap hotel blankets.) 

My wooden spoons are like an extension of my arm.  Again, they are something I use almost every time I cook.  I don't buy expensive ones because I put them in the dishwasher and consequently, they don't last long. 

I bought a set of five (for about $7) at Wal-Mart recently, but these are the two I use the most.  I definitely suggest buying wooden spoons with long handles; it will give you more leverage when mixing tough dough or batter and help you reach and stir something in a deep stock pot.

(**Update:** A dear friend read this page and decided I just couldn't be putting those sweet wooden utensils through the dishwasher, so she went to Pampered Chef and bought me an awesome set that is dishwasher-safe.  A photo of them will be here soon!)
Silicone Bowl
My sister gave this to me for Christmas a few years back.  And again I thought, "How have I lived so long without this thing?" 

I love to mix batter in the bowl and then pour it out directly where I need it (making pancakes, adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients in the mixer, etc.).

Silicone kitchen tools, like this bowl, muffin "tins" (which I am not a huge fan of), pastry brushes, etc., are a relatively new invention.  A few years ago, it seemed like you could only find them at high-priced kitchen stores, but now they are popping up everywhere.  My sister bought mine for me at a speciality kitchen shop in our hometown; here's a link for it on Amazon ($12). 

Dough and Pastry Roller
I love it when someone takes something that's been around forever, like a rolling pin, and comes up with a new way to use it.

I still use my regular rolling pin for rolling out large circles of pie and quiche dough, but I use this for everything else (working with fondant icing, flattening a layer of dough in the bottom (and up the sides) of a baking dish, etc., homemade pizza dough, etc.).

It's circa 2005 from a Pampered Chef party.  Here's the link for it.

Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens can be loosely classified as anything that can be used both on a burner and inside the oven.
This was a birthday present from my mom. What a treat. I use it every chance I get.

It's by All-Clad, which is, in my opinion, the creme de la creme of cookware. Another fantastic brand is La Creuset. Quality makes an enormous difference in a pot like this, and if it's something you think you'll use often, it's worth saving up for.

Sauce Pan and Steamer Basket:

Another gift from my precious family, this All-Clad saucepan with a steamer basket insert is used almost everytime I cook.  I tossed my non-stick cookware a few years ago because I was pretty sure we were ingesting Teflon, and I have never looked back.  These things clean up REALLY well. 

I use this steamer insert to prepare fresh veggies. 

I couldn't cook a meal without this thing.  LOVE IT. 

Again, it's non-stick, but it cleans up REALLY WELL.  Plus, if I want to get it super shiny, I use "Barkeeper's Friend" on the inside and it looks like new again.  I expect to have this the rest of my life.

To illustrate the easy clean-up statement, look at this.

I was making a sauce and had sauteed scallions in the pan after I prepared some chicken breasts.

Lots of brown bits of chicken/flour were STUCK to the bottom.

After whisking the heck out of the sauce, scraping off the bits to incorporate them into the liquid,
this is what the pan looked like.

After I was finished with the sauce, I DID NOT SCRUB THIS PAN.

I simply used the damp dishrag on it.

And it came clean.


Here is a similar pan to what I have (except mine has a lid.)

Stockpot (12-Quart)
I've been making soups and pasta in this thing for 10 years.  Love it.  It's from Wolfgang Puck's line that was sold at Sam's way back when.  Any brand will do AS LONG AS it is stainless steel and has a good heavy core.

I use it for the obvious (removing the tasty skin from citrus fruits), but also for grating cheeses and nutmeg.

This is the one I have.

If you've poked around much on my blog, you know how proud I am of this little $5 thermometer.   

I use it for taking meat temperatures, bread dough, candy making, etc.

I calibrate it frequently by putting it in boiling water (it should read 212 degrees) and freezing water.

I bought it at the grocery store.  For $5.

Large Mixing Bowl

Love this thing.  Got it at Wal-Mart for $5.


As the name of my blog suggests, I love to listen to music while I cook.  This "toy" is indispensable to me.

Parchment Paper

The best $3 you will ever spend.
No more scrubbing baking dishes and cookie sheets.

Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer

A total splurge.  

But I'm pretty sure my shoulder would burst into flames without it.

More faves to come...

What are your favorite kitchen tools?  Please email me at cookingwithchopin@yahoo.com