Monday, November 22, 2010

How To Stock A Kitchen Part 3

Okay, I know this was supposed to go up yesterday but G and I spent a lovely day out and about at a museum, a bistro, and then looking at furniture.  This post was supposed to be about products I love but aren't strictly necessary, but a commenter has asked about cutting boards and I can't believe I forgot them!  So the first couple things are absolutely necessary if you like your counter tops!  I also realized there were a couple other things missing like things for cookies and a casserole dish, so in the end the 3 unnecessary items are at the end!
Plastic Cutting Board.  You need two cutting boards, a plastic one and a wooden one.  The wooden one is so that your knives don't get ruined, and the plastic is so you don't contaminate the wooden one with things like salmonella and e coli.  I bought the above oxo one at Target.  It has non-slip sides and is reversible, with one side having the "moat" to catch juices from cooked meat.  I love how big the cutting board is, 15x21 in., though for smaller spaces I've just discovered oxo makes a variety of sizes.
Wood Cutting Board.  I have purchased many a wooden cutting board, from a basic large one from Wal-Mart, a small wooden one from IKEA (for hardly anything and it lasted about 6 months).  The problem is that most boards are cheap, and eventually they will warp, split, or get nasty mold.  I splurged earlier this summer on one from Williams-Sonoma and it's my baby.  I mean, I oil this thing (and I'm now on my 3rd bottle of mineral oil).  I also rub it down with beeswax polish.  The difference with the cost is that it's an end grain cutting board, meaning it absorbs the blade of the knife (keeping your blades nice) and the woode comes back together so that you don't see any cutting marks.  My baby still looks brand new.  It was a major splurge at $90, but should (with proper care) last me years and years.  And it's easy to carry from counter to pot to scrape veggies in.  Whatever wooden cutting board you decide to get, if you can afford it go for an end grain one.
Butter Bell Crock. What is a butter bell and why do you need one?  They are little crocks that keep butter cold, but soft in your kitchen without refrigeration.  This is done with cold water, and yes, it works!  I actually bought my first one when G and I were first married and I love it so much that thanks to thrift store shopping I now have 3 and even gave a 4th to my maman!  I have several for brunches where I like to have flavored butters such as cinnamon and honey butters.  But really, to begin with one will do just fine!  If you click on the title it will take you to the site.  Right now they have a holiday special going on where if you buy 2 you get one free and they make excellent gifts.  But....the winner of the November giveaway is getting their choice of any butter bell crock!  L. Tremain, who manufactures Butter Bell Crocks has generously offered this up.  They also have a newsletter you can subscribe to, as well as a Facebook fan page where you can keep up to date on new styles and specials! (currently they have a contest going to win a butter bell there as well....just guess who the Harry Potter star is who loves them!)  I'm a wee bit jealous of the winner, since I would love one of the new cafe styles! (pictured above) But they have a huge variety, including a new antique style, and various colors. 
Jelly Roll Pan.  If you only have one baking sheet in your kitchen, make it a jelly roll pan.  I use mine for cooking, scones, biscuits, buttermilk brownies....and this Christmas it's getting used as an actual jelly roll pan for the French buche de noel cake!  I have a plethora of cookie sheets, but this item gets used the most!
Casserole/Baking Dishes.  G and I were blessed by some family friends with a huge set of Corningware that was sent to England as a wedding gift.  It had a bunch of different pieces in the french white style (which you can find pretty much anywhere!).  But the large rectangular casserole dish is the most used in our house.  Everything from lasagna to mushroom chicken with rice to holiday dressing to meatloaf is cooked in this thing.  And it cleans so easily, just a little bit of baking soda used on the tough baked on bits (if the dishwasher doesn't get them perfectly clean).  While I think a variety comes in handy I think the large open casserole is the most handy.  If you are single, you can get a smaller dish for just you, but get the casserole for entertaining.
Immersion Blender.  Here's a secret:  I don't have a food processor and I so rarely use a blender it's probably covered in dust.  Instead, when I went in to look at food processors I came out with an immersion blender.  It's used to puree soups (even chunky ones like potato, bacon onion soup) blend salsa, and it even has an attachment for milkshakes!  I've also used it to blend cooked greens (like spinach and mustard greens) into my Indian dish, palak paneer).  I haven't even tried it out on things like homemade mayo, but the video online makes it look easy as pie.  Now, WS sells the regular and the professional, and I have the white.  The silver and black regular one?  The silver's plastic and so not worth the extra $20 for the look (unless you plan on keeping your immersion blender sitting on the counter and I sure don't!).  It's pricey, I hemmed and hawed like crazy, but I love mine. 
Whisks.  Now I'm sure some of you are looking at me like, "Why aren't these necessary?"  Well, unless you whip cream or egg whites by hand (and most of us have an electric mixer) these aren't strictly necessary.  I use mine to closely whip through the ingredients for pancakes and eggs, but you could also use a wooden spoon for the pancakes and a fork for the eggs.  I have both the balloon and the french stainless steel whisks from Williams-Sonoma and if you only want one, I would recommend the french, as it's the best for things like eggs.
Trashcan.  I put this  under the "nice but unnecessary" category because while everyone needs a trashcan, the one I am going to recommend to you is a bit of a purchase at $99.  I got my SimpleHuman 40 litre can with a Bed, Bath, and Beyond 20% off coupon, making it about $80, and it does have a 5 year warranty, but it is expensive.  However, I comment very, very frequently how much I love this trashcan.  How handy it is with it's little foot to step on and raise the lid when I have a handful of egg shells or am cleaning out a dish of grease.   We considered getting the one that is a bit pricier with the stainless steel lid and the silent, slow close, but honestly I couldn't justify it and it closes much quieter than you would expect.  The lid is also lightweight so it's not like it's going to slam shut on your fingers.  I love this trashcan, it's going to stay until it dies (in which I will buy an identical replacement) and it's the only kind I'm going to use for the rest of my kitchen days.  Yes, I'm that big a fan.

I hope that this post has really helped round out my stocked kitchen for you.  Of course there are a bundle of other little things you can have (and some big ones I'm sure), but this is a good start to a well-stocked kitchen.  And don't forget to enter the November giveaway by going and commenting HERE.  Many ways to enter and so far I've mentioned the loose tea ball, the Nielsen-Massey vanilla and now the butter bell.  But there will be other items as well, so stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Kalee,

    I have a simplehuman garbage can and I love it. It's worth the money. We have had ours for over 5 years and have never had a problem with it (knock on wood).

    We wanted a garbage can that matched our stainless steel appliances and was enclosed so our dogs couldn't get into it. Ours has two flipper-type doors on top that open when you step on the pedal. We clean it with stainless steel cleaner and it looks as new as the day we bought it.

    Thank you for doing these posts. I know it must have taken lots of effort!

    Have a great day!