04 November 2009

Kitchen Essentials: Top 10

It's just about that time, people... the weather is turning colder, and it's the season to spend some quality time in the kitchen. I've received a couple of really great kitchen tools recently, and rather than share them piecemeal, I've put together a list of the 10 items that make our kitchen tick. Some are absolutely for treats (which are essential, right?) and some are more every-day. Without further ado, my top ten current kitchen crushes!

Pizza Screens - As you know, we're all about homemade pizza at Chez ST&F. As I've mentioned before, these little mesh trays allow us to slide our uncooked pizzas into a 500-degree oven without a dough disaster. Or 3rd-degree burns.

Crock Pot - Imagine this: you wake up, pull on your bathrobe, grab some coffee... put a nice pork shoulder plus some sauce and spices into a beautiful piece of crockery... turn it on, walk away. Return 6 or 8 hours later and dig in. Bonus is that our crockpot is my parent's vintage 1970's "Harvest Gold" model (a wedding gift, I'm sure), with real crockery insert. When we moved recently, this was by far the item I most lovingly packed up.
Super cool crock pot image above from Etsy.

Zojirushi Water Heater - This appliance is simply indispensable around here. It's basically a hot water machine, but it's so much more. Hot water is always ready--always ready. We use it for morning tea (see below), making cups of coffee (see below), braising kale, heating up cold baby bottles or homemade purees, thinning out thick sauces, etc. Probably the best wedding present we received.

Tea Brewers - If you like loose tea like we do, these are just genius. You can brew individual cups and dispense the tea into your mug in a snap, by placing the brewer on top of the mug. We're all about tea in the mornings: the Mister likes a China Black and I love Oolongs, both from Peets.

Single-cup Coffee Brewers - We pretty much drink coffee only on the weekends. Since being pregnant, my caffeine intake has stayed pretty low. (But this time-change may change all that!) And, maybe we're getting old, but a whole pot of coffee is WAY too much for just us two. I know, some of you (Nance) are shaking your heads ("wimps!"). Anyway, old-fogey wimps that we are, we have been digging these single-cup brewers. We make each cup one at a time, and none of the coffee sits idly, cooking on a coffee maker's heat plate. Bonus is that during pregnancy, I could whip up a cup of decaf for myself without cramping anyone else's style.

Green Bean Frencher - Just got this for my birthday from The Mister. I've been wanting this King Champion of Unitasking ever since seeing Jamie Oliver with one. I love my green beans frenched (i.e., sliced lengthwise very thin. Makes them cook quickly.) but you can really cut a finger off trying to do it with a knife. This little jobber works like magic. I actually think it's kind of fun to use. But, I'm into that kind of thing.

Mini Tart Tins - I like these for a couple of pretty simple reasons: Baking is (newly) fun to me. But, making a whole tart for two people is insane: we either eat it all (no good) or it goes to waste. Enter tiny tarts! Problem solved.

Mesh Produce Bags - My co-worker Gayle turned me on to these. Instead of adding to our already bulging stash of plastic produce bags (which we reuse), why not bring some of these to the store or farmer's market for your lemons or salad mix? Aside from the obvious eco benefits, who really likes bringing excess clutter (i.e., tons of annoying bags) into the house every week? Not me.

The Bins - Every Friday, we receive a big, green bin (or two) full of mostly local, seasonal, organic veggies, meat, bread, cheese, nuts, fruit, etc -- delivered right to our door. I've been using this service since being a single, solo-dweller, and now it's a big part of our family's food plan. It's kind of like a CSA, but it draws from many, many farms (and it's a family-run business), and you get to choose what's in your bin. I still go to the farmer's market when possible, but with the bins, we still have amazing food if we miss a trip to the market.

Food Saver - OK, full disclosure: I own one but haven't used it yet. Not so essential, you ask? Au contraire. If I look into my crystal ball, next summer we'll be swimming in a sea of homegrown blueberries, green beans and peas... which we'll seal up in the Food Saver and pop into our (also as-yet unpurchased) deep freezer down in the basement. Can't you just see it??

So.... what are your must-haves for the kitchen? Any gadgets or basics you just can't do without? I need to know, so I can covet your favorites too.


  1. Does my microwave and Hello Kitty toaster count? :) Love your list. I learned about some new items. I must have to give a resounding amen to the crockpot. Defintely has made my life easier. and the Hello Kitty toaster too!

  2. I think I'm about to go Crock-Pot!


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