No matter what hobby I’ve dived into in my life, having the right tools make such a difference.
I can’t call cooking a hobby. It’s too valuable of a skill in my life to imagine it falling into the pile of model airplanes, rockets, and Chipper Jones memorabilia. Chipper…my sweet Chipper…will that autographed baseball ever be worth somethin’?
Regardless, to be good at something, you have to invest in the right tools. As we know, the price of these tools can be cheap or bloody expensive — I suppose we all try to aim for the middle area of “good quality and price”, but it’s not always easy trying to figure it all out. Here, I want to explain what I use the most and why it’s important in my kitchen. Some of these things are worth the investment and some you will probably never need.
A good sharp knife.
I know I’ve talked out the arse about having good knives, but even if you could buy just one, it would make all the difference. I’d recommend, along with countless chefs (with or without tv personalities), a good quality chef’s knife. Preferably 6-8inches. Whichever knife is up to you, but I would say you should probably pay somewhere between $80-120 on a good knife. If you take care of it (sharpen, hone, etc.) then it will take care of you…or…will…chop your vegetables. The two main knife companies I’d recommend are Wusthof and Global. But most importantly, find a knife you feel comfortable with. Hit up a kitchen store and let them show you around. I’m sure they need something to do. (check out cutleryandmore.com for some decent prices.)
Quality pots and pans.
We received a gigantic set of Rachel Ray pans for our wedding. They were orange and fun. We were so thankful to have something to cook with and the fact that they all matched was a HUGE plus. But, as I grew more into cooking, I knew they weren’t going to last. They all had a nonstick surface, which isn’t the best to [always] cook with, even though it makes for easier cleaning. We needed something heavy and quality. I had a buddy who bought a set of All-Clad pans and I played with them a little. I fell in love. Heavy bottom. Equal heating. Lifetime warranty. They change your cooking game immediately. We had a little tax refund money to play around with last year and decided to invest and can say from hundreds of meals, they work hard for you. They clean pretty easily too. The quality of All-Clad is up to you. I decided on the MC2 collection, which is a little cheaper and not stainless steal, but they have cooked up some rad lookin’ stuff. I’d highly recommend All-Clad, Mauviel, Le Creuset. Or, you can buy a huge set of copper pots and make me insanely jealous. (BTW, All-Clad has a sale on the site I mentioned above…usually at the beginning of the new year. Start with a set or buy one at a time till you’re satisfied.)
Blender or immersion blender
I’ll go ahead and say right now that I’m not going to buy a blender unless it’s a Vita-Mix…but they run about 250-400 and I can’t shell out that kind of cash right now. So, I went to the next best thing for my budget: an immersion blender. No, they can’t do the things a Vita-Mix can, but they get the job done at a quarter of the cost. I use ours everyday on smoothies and such. They can also blend you up a decent soup. They make mayonnaise easy to whip up along with quiche batters and super serious hot chocolates. I grabbed a KitchenAid immersion blender at Target for $50. Totally worth every penny.
Jelly Roll Pan
The next couple of things I mention seem pretty mundane, but make life in the kitchen so much easier. A jelly roll pan is basically a sheet pan with raised sides that catch juice, melted sugar, fat, runny batter, etc. from whatever it is you might be cooking. It’s especially important to use a jelly roll pan when baking things with lots of butter/fat. The last thing you want is your kitchen filled with smoke and you, waving pillows in front of the fire alarm.
Behold the power of bowls. Metal and glass. Small, medium and large. I use bowls everyday to toss veggies and to mix eggs. Having good bowls makes cooking go by so much smoother. Especially if you’re making biscuits or pie dough where you need room to mix the flour — it’s nice to have a lot of room, otherwise, it’ll fly all over the place. Or maybe I’m just messy. I never have enough. If I’m cooking a big meal for people, the mixing bowl is the first thing I run out of.
Of course, we all have our own little gadgets that we couldn’t cook without…and I’d love to hear about em’!
Happy cookin’ my friends,