I recently had the opportunity to cook in a pretty empty kitchen, and it got me thinking about:
- How lucky I am to be blessed with a clean, functional, fully stocked kitchen, and
- How hard it is to cook without a few basic tools
After some musing, I concluded that the following items are a must-have to be able to do anything worthwhile in the kitchen:
Sharp Knife + Cutting Board
Cutting a butternut squash with a sharp knife is hard at the best of times, but let me tell you, cutting a butternut squash with a dull knife is almost impossible (I say almost because I was able to do it, but it was a battle.) At least one sturdy, sharp knife in every kitchen is crucial to help ease your slicing and dicing!
Now, a sharp knife and cutting board are kind of like PB & J. One is just not as good without the other. It’s best to avoid plastic cutting boards as they tend to develop cuts and grooves that create cozy homes for all sorts of bacteria. The best types of cutting boards are glass or bamboo. Bamboo is basically magic, because it seals itself after being cut, which helps prevent those pores of bacteria like in plastic boards. Glass is also ideal because it is impermeable. However, it can make chopping a little noisier and I admit glass does make me a little nervous because it’s well, glass!
It is also best to have a separate cutting board for meats, especially raw meat. This is a common practice in food industry, but something many of us don’t practice in our personal lives. We have a separate knife for meats as well, marked with a snazzy piece of zebra duct tape to separate it from the rest!
Pots and Pans
In the midst of packing and moving out of my apartment after university, I ended up cooking solely with a lid-less frying pan for several days. Anyone ever tried to make rice in a frying pan? How about heating soup? Having a good set of pots that range in size will make your life a lot easier and leave your cooking options limitless! Stainless steel is best; ceramic, glass and cast iron are also good options. Avoid Teflon at all costs as it is carcinogenic and can chip off into your food – yuck!
A can opener is a must because you can’t get into your chickpeas, tuna, or coconut milk without one! (Although I recently found Real Thai Coconut Milk in a 1L carton, which was pretty exciting).
This may not be considered a “basic” kitchen tool to some, but it is essential in my kitchen. I use my mighty Vitamix daily and would be lost without it! It makes things like soup, hummus, smoothies, pancake batter, pudding, yogurt and black bean brownies a breeze!
Some may argue that a high-speed blender is equally as efficient as a food processor but I find a food processor is still more effective at some things, like chopping nuts for a delicious cashew cheesecake crust, mushing chickpeas for baked falafel patties, or shredding carrots for kimchi.
Other doo-dads may make your life in the kitchen easier, but when it comes down to it, I believe the above items are really the core tools. With these five things you are an invincible culinary ninja!
What are some of your kitchen must-haves for regular every day cooking?