March 18, 2021
Some of you have asked me to talk about my favorite kitchen tools, so here is my list. I started this post in 2021, and I am updating it in January 2024. Not every item may work for you, but this will give you a glimpse into my world. I'm very particular. Any item that I purchase must be easy to use and clean. There are a few things that I've tried that have not worked for me - I will include them at the bottom. For now, I'll explain my choices below starting with the photo in the top left and going to the right by row.
Microplane & Box Graters The one pictured above in row 1 to the top left is a tiny Microplane grater that fits perfectly into the palm of one hand. I stick it in my back pocket even for big appearances like at the Inspired Home Show in Chicago when I'm cooking on stage in their Culinary Theater. It's quick and easy and I love that the holes are large enough to let me quickly grate ginger, garlic, and even fresh turmeric sometimes right over my pot. I cannot remember where I got this particular one from, but I always keep it handy. A quality box grater is also key in my kitchen. Here's a website that has some tips on the better graters out there: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-grater/. A box grater is especially helpful when pureeing tomatoes. Instead of using canned, simply grate your tomatoes for all the delicious juiciness minus the skin. It's a great way to add the hue and taste of tomato into soups and stews without peeling. My white bean soup is a perfect example.
Kitchen Towels I haven't used a paper towel in my kitchen in years. While I still keep thicker, absorbent dish towels on hand, some of my favorites are these super-thin towels that act like paper towels. I often line my fridge fruit and veggie drawers with them as well to keep things fresh and absorb any extra moisture. Buy them in white or the darker ones that show less stains. Keep in mind, the reviews are mixed largely because they are not super absorbent - but they are great for drying off the counter, lining your fridge drawers, and tackling little messes.
If you want other ideas on how to cut out the paper waste in your kitchen, go right to the Dot and Amy website for wonderful cloth towel and napkin options. I even got my family used to using cloth napkins for meals. It took some time and we are not perfect, but we've reduced a ton of paper waste. The key is washing and folding them all, which takes time, but it's honestly not that bad. I keep a basket under my sink for dirty towels and then throw them into the wash twice a week. I'll often fold them and give myself some time to watch television as a treat while doing so. https://www.dotandarmy.com/collections/best-sellers/products/bargain-bundle-everyday-cloth-napkins-set-of-30
Egg Cups are silly, but a fun ways to offer up dips to your kids. My girls would eat anything in an egg cup that they could pair with carrots. I also like using them for cheese platters when I want to keep dips, jams, and mustards contained. The ones that I have are simple and white, but there are so many fun and interesting ones out there. So, start a collection! And, of course, they are good for your eggs in the morning as well.
Mortar & Pestle. No introduction needed if you are cooking up Indian food. Perfect for pounding just about any spice down into powder. I like the weight and the feel of this one. I also have a tiny metal one from India that just does not let me pound my spices as well for some reason. I purchased this from Sur la Table. It's also portable enough for me to take with me to demos - most commercial kitchens never have one, so I always have to be prepared with my own.
Prep Glasses with Lids, known as working glasses, are essential in my kitchen to store everything from ground ginger and garlic to leftover smoothies. I will often make a shake in the morning and store if for my girls to grab themselves. Here's one link on where to purchase. These are also great for storing chopped onion, ginger, garlic, and chiles so that you can dole each out quickly when making a quick tardka.
Electric Kettle. If there is something I use every day three times a day, it's my electric kettle. From heating water for my morning lemon-turmeric tonic to adding hot water to my legumes to speed up soaking to adding hot water to my slow cooker to cut cooking down an hour - you can do it all with this one small gadget. Even my kids and husband love, love, love our electric kettle. My girls are now in college and this is the one tool that they insisted on purchasing for their apartments, especially for a hot cup of tea in the morning. I've graduated from this one pictured here to a slightly fancier one by Smeg in pastel green that suits our kitchen and just makes me feel so good every time I use it. It was definitely worth the splurge. I also purchased the matching citrus electric juicer. They sit out on my counter and look as beautiful as they work.
Nesting Measuring Cups. I love these nesting measuring cups, especially for measuring out rice. Each bowl fills to a full measure - like a cup measure, but then there is a line inside for a half measure of that full bowl. Now, I wish the lines and the amount was a bit more readable - but the concept is great. And, they look really organized nestled in my prep drawer. Yes, I have a prep drawer! I think I got them from Sur la Table.
Scraper. OMG. If there was something that you never knew you'd need so much until you got it and started actually using it - it is this handy scraper! It makes prep so easy and so much more fun. When you are done mincing and chopping, simply use the scraper to grab up your product in one and and with the other grab the rest and take it all and dump it in your pot. It's also great for when the tomato juices get away from you on the cutting board, simply scrape them up into a bowl or into your sink. Why I position my cutting boards so they hang over my sink a touch as well as my trash can. So the juices go in my skin and the other scraps in the trash. Though I am hoping to start composting soon.
Le Creuset Skinny Griddle
Wood Cutting Board with an insert
Nested mixing bowls with lids
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