Friday, November 19, 2010

How To Stock A Kitchen Part 1

Or...why you don't really need so much crap.

It is easy to get caught up in fancy gadgets for your kitchen.  And if you have the space and money then hey, don't let me stop you.  Shop to your heart's content.  However if you're more like me, i.e. smaller income and less storage space and you're just wanting the basics here's my list of the actual items I have in my kitchen and why I love them. 
Pots and pans.  I bought this Emerilware set from Macy's when I first got married, but it wasn't until tonight that I realized they're made by All Clad.  I have the large set, it came with a square cast iron grill pan (which honestly, I've only used 2-3 times....but it has worked very well) and I also bought the steamer insert for the smaller pot and a saucier (it has an easy pour side) that I use all the time when making hot cocoa.  I'm very happy with this set and have told G that I'll use it till it dies.  In fact I just realized that they have an 8 qt. stockpot that would make cooking soups so much easier (I use the 5 qt. pot for that usually, and it's generally as full as can be).  I would say you don't need such a large set, but for $200 if you're looking to find good pots and pans I have to recommend these.  The soup pot, the little pot (which is great when you're making a smaller amount of something), the saute pan (which I use all the time), the short but wide casserole dish (I make everything from my tarte tatin to tuna noodle helper in this baby), and the fry pans which I use to saute everything since I no longer use a teflon pan---- they're all great, easy to clean (in fact it's where we discovered the miracle of baking soda when G burnt something on).  And after 3.5 years of use they still look new.  
Knives.  Here's where I got lucky:  my lovely Aunt Karol bought G and I a Chicago Cutlery landmark knife block set for our wedding.  They've been excellent.  In fact, I've used pretty much every knife except the weird curved peeler because I had no idea what it was until just now.  I liked them so much that when I saw Wal-Mart had the santoku knife to match I snatched it right up and it's my current go-to everytime knife.  But basically what it comes down to is you really need: a chopping knife (I recommend the santoku), a paring knife (shorter, gets out things like bruises in potatoes), a bread knife (because I'm hoping to encourage homemade bread making...and if not if can be used on artisan bread you buy), and some all purpose steak knives.  The row of silver knives on the bottom are steak knives and they are constantly empty slots.

Spatulas.  I cannot say this enough:  get some silicone covered spatulas and you will never again use the kind that separate.  I bought some on clearance at Macy's before the wedding and I have hunted them down because I'm currently looking to restock.  These are Orka brand and I rave about them.  The steel inside keeps them in tip top shape and the silicone makes them easy to clean.  I'm planning on getting them in all black because I've found that my white ones have stained over time with tomato based sauces.  I have their all-purpose spatula as well as a spoon spatula and am planning on buying two more of each as well as a thinner spatula.  These are the only spatulas I use, I use them more often than all the other cooking utensils in my kitchen combined.  I use them to whip up cakes, to stir soups and sauces, and to saute veggies.  
Wooden Spoons.  I think wooden spoons are all purpose.  I've used the cheap kind you can buy in big packs from Wal-mart and they season well.  I've used the pampered chef bamboo spoons (and I'm getting ready to pass those on to my Maman because she loves them and they just haven't worked for me).  I now have a small collection of Berard olive wood spoons that I originally bought because hey, they're pretty and French.  They are pricey, but I got all of mine at Tuesday morning for quite cheap (our Tuesday Morning seems to have quite a few nice Williams-Sonoma products if you're willing to dig through the mess).  The above pictured spoon with rest comes in at $36 at WS, but I got mine for maybe $15 at most, and it was a splurge when we first moved here.  I use them more and more often, and love the feel of them.  They are more difficult to take care of (handwashing and then beeswax polishing to keep them from drying out).  But with proper care they should last me a lifetime, and that's what I'm all about.  However any wooden spoons will do, the difference is simply how often you'll have to replace them. 
An Apron.  I think an apron is one of the most handy items in a kitchen.  I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to put one on (or they were all in the wash) and I ended up with flour handprints on my jeans right before the doorbell rang.  I have a ton of vintage ones from family, and a few larger butcher style aprons for G.  Best thing ever is the above butcher style aprons from's only $4.99!  Thick cotton and it covers most of you so it's my go to lately to keep flour at bay.  

There will be a Part 2 and Part 3 coming this weekend.  I'm breaking it up because with the photos it makes the posts really long.  


  1. I have all of these things except an apron.

  2. Although I've had a kitchen a looooong time - it's nice to learn from a 'pro'. I'll be following this series.

  3. These are great reviews and enjoy reading what others have in stock. I'm so glad I invested in 3 Wusthof knifes.

  4. What cutting boards are you using? I am looking for recommendations for a good cutting board (wood or plastic I am not sure)