You don’t need half of what’s in your kitchen — Here’s why

Gary Harris

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I used to think I would never be able to produce remarkable food unless I had all the shiny, new gadgets that I saw on the shelves at William Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, and the like. I was sold on the idea that only the beautiful, custom kitchens had the potential to host and serve meals to make your mouth dance with flavor. Sure, I could follow a recipe, but it always seemed lacking. I am here to tell you that no number of gadgets or gizmos will help, if you feel the same way that I did.

In my last article, Home Cooking — Beginning at Basics, I shared my opinion of what everyone should have in their pantry and mentioned that next, I would go over the basic tools needed to have consistent success in the kitchen. Here we go.

Let’s pull out the root before we start chopping. Here’s what I mean by that — if you can do it with a knife, a fork, or a spoon, you most likely don’t need to buy that specialty kitchen item. Not a garlic press, pasta tongs, odor screen, avocado scoop, or any of those other single use items. Frankly, unless you’re rolling in money, make everything from scratch, or cooking for a lot of people and need to save mass amounts of time on food prep, there is no need for any of these items.

Here is what you do need:

· Knives — The only knife that you must have in your kitchen is a Chef’s Knife. Normally, I would say the brand doesn’t matter, but I just can’t stand behind that statement. Will a Walmart special knife work for a while? Yes, but they are also going to dull more quickly, and need replaced much sooner than a quality blade. I use the Misen Chef’s Knife, which is an incredibly well-made blade with over 8,000 positive reviews. They are a recent addition to the top circle of brands, coming from Kickstarter with over a million dollars in funding. Misen blades cost half the price of other high-quality blades, selling for $65 on their website, which is a reason they’re so loved. I know it seems like a lot of money for a knife, but I promise that it will change everything.

· Cutting Board — Hopefully you will have more than just one of these, but if not, that’s just fine. I still use a set of thin, floppy cutting boards that was given as a wedding gift. I highly recommend not buying any boards that are smaller than a laptop. You need to have space to cut and move without items rolling away from you. No need to blow a bunch of money on fancy boards, the cheap one will work just fine. If it slides around your counter just put a wet paper towel or rag underneath it to keep it still.

· Stainless-Steel Sauté Pan — A lot of home cooks are terrified by this item, with reason. The stainless-steel pan is the one that all your food gets stuck too, but there is a reason for that, and we want that! I will expand on this more in a later article. Get a stainless-steel pan that is a little larger than a dinner plate.

· Non-Stick Pan — The golden child of pans. This seems to be everyone’s favorite go-to for the obvious non-stickiness of the thing. I will throw in that I highly recommend the T-Fal brand, as they are generally all oven safe as well as the regular stove top usage. Also, that nifty red dot in the middle isn’t decoration — it’s a preheat monitor. When the red circle is completely solid it is fully preheated and ready for use!

· Saucepan — Brand doesn’t matter, just go stainless-steel and high walled if you can.

· Mixing Bowls — Think you can guess what I am going to say? Yup, stainless-steel. Metal mixing bowls allow for easier cleaning, no stains, no smells, and keep their look much longer than plastic. I got my set of six bowls on Amazon for $26.99, and I love them.

· Miscellaneous — Here it is, the last bit that pretty much everyone already has, and the quality doesn’t matter too much. Spatula, ladle, whisk, grater, manual can opener, measuring cups, baking pans and baking sheets. All of these are up to preference, but I have both plastic and wood spatulas and ladles for different pan types. There are multiple whisk sizes, but I only use the one traditional full size and it’s always been fine. Just find what suits your style and cooking best, at the optimal price.

Of course, all of this is my opinion, but I can assure you that mastering these basic tools will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable with far less stress and worry. If you are not sure how to use some of these tools, drop a comment with a question, or stay tuned for upcoming articles. Happy cooking!

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US veteran, home chef, and dedicated family man. I live, and write, around these topics.

Meridian, ID
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