Spring is here and I’m in the kitchen today, asking myself one very important question: Do I really need all this stuff? For those of us who love to cook and bake, the idea of a functional kitchen may not earn approval from a Buddhist monk. We have an undeniable affliction: The uncontrollable need for kitchen utensils, tools, appliances. Lots of them.
To make matters worse, this condition can, and often does, develop into a desire for collecting vintage versions of culinary gadgets and gizmos. For instance, my faithful set of stainless steel measuring cups got canned for an old set of copper ones with brass handles. However, I have no regrets, because every time I have one in hand, I feel like I’m cooking in a shoebox kitchen in an old Paris apartment. Even so, this is bad practice.
Currently, I am obsessing over one of those old fashioned hand-cranked food mills. My grandmothers each had one and I want my own. They used it to make tomato paste every summer in their basements. Never mind the fact that Nina and Vilik Mama lived through World War II, endured harsh snowy winters in Iran when produce supplies were low and the mass food production of the West had not yet reached the East. For now, the food mill is on hold as I do some serious spring cleaning in my overly stocked kitchen.
It’s easy to translate want into need. This carries with it the dangers of accumulating various things designated for the purpose of serving guests, the number of which can never be underestimated. That means stacks of plates, bowls, ramekins, boxes of cutlery and so on. A set of 12 each, because you never know how many guests you’ll have for dinner next Christmas, right?
Let’s not forget the library of treasured cookbooks that were cracked open once at the book store. Before long, you are drowning in stuff. My grandmothers would both be tisk-ing me now if they were standing in the doorway to my kitchen. They both made the most delectable dishes in what was truly a functional kitchen with nothing more than a pot, pan, bowl, wooden spoon and one good knife. You really don’t need much to make fabulous food.
Creating a functional kitchen with as few items as possible could be quite the challenge, but fear not. To make your functional kitchen even more stylish, check out this list of the top faucet designs over at https://www.identifyr.com/home/kitchen/best-kitchen-faucets/. Here’s all you really need.*
When I moved out, I was still a young bachelorette (a tender 30 years old). My mom helped me set up my little apartment and gave me everything I needed to survive on my own. The one thing I indulged in getting myself was a good cooking knife. I invested $40 on a 7-inch Santoku, a general purpose knife from Japan with a signature wide hollow blade and slanting nose. It was the only knife I had, the only one I needed. Years later, I joke that I married Shawn because he came with a set of Globals. The Santuko remains my favorite to this day, easy to grip, efficient in chopping, slicing, peeling everything. Ikea carries a line of stainless steel knives with a 15-year warranty. You could buy the whole set for the cost of one Global knife.Cutting Boards
Two is all you need, one for fruits & vegetables, the other for meats. Get any size, shape, color you want. We have two Epicurean black pigs. We use them every day and love them. A pretty cutting board does double-duty for serving cheese or a fresh loaf of bread. This little piggy is durable, dishwasher safe and a bit of country twang to any kitchen.
Large Fine Mesh Strainer
Sift flour, drain pasta, rinse rice, beans or herbs all with one versatile tool. A good quality fine mesh strainer does double duty as a colander. OXO brand offers a wide range of fullproof ergonomic cooking tools. Stainless Steel Tongs
Like extensions of your hands, tongs are essential for rearranging, transferring hot food and pinching that cute sous chef’s tooshy. They make themselves useful at the stove, oven and the bbq grill. Get a good pair of this hardworking tool that you can throw into the dishwasher.
My favorite cooking utensil is a wooden spoon that Mom gave me like a bazillion years ago. The tip is black and burnt, the wood is worn. I love it. The feel of the grip is perfect and it’s just the right size for stirring the pot. Get one for yourself and make it your favorite.
I’m torn. Technically, the spider is not an absolute necessity, but does prove to be very useful. You may not make gulab jamuns (I wish you would), but you are likely to cook up a batch of tortellini on a busy weeknight for dinner. Boiling eggs, poaching pears, frying potatoes will have you wishing you had one.
These are required only if you plan on doing any baking, which, unlike cooking, is more of an exact science. Under $5 can get you a nice set of stainless steel measuring cups that are durable and dishwasher safe.
This is where you should splurge as much as you can. It was on an impulse that we decided to toss all our old mismatched cookware and invested in a set of 5-ply stainless steel pots and pans. They are built so well we should be able to will them to our daughter some day. Every time I cook with them, I catch myself smiling.
Ceramic Nonstick Pan
Ditch the Teflon. Ceramic is the new nonstick. You can get it screaming hot without the dangers of releasing toxic fumes into the air which are especially harmful to pet birds. A shallow nonstick pan is great for making crepes, pancakes, and rice.
I bake a LOT and hate wasting the zest from citrus fruits. Not only does it give gorgeous flavor to baked goods, but the zest contains precious antioxidants that are so good for you. The microplane is excellent for zesting citrus, grating ginger, garlic, whole nutmeg pods. I couldn’t live without mine.
This modest fruit squeezer is most helpful in any kitchen. Fresh citrus juice is wonderful in homemade salad dressings. It adds the perfect tang and brightens the flavor of any sauce. The acids renew the shine on copper teapots. On those hot summer days, my juicer works extra hard to make fresh lemonade for my Daisy.
Baking at home is not necessarily a necessity, but for some of us (i.e. me), it is. So, if I was being deported to a desert island and had to choose just one of my many (many) baking molds, it would have to be my Nordicware Heritage pan that makes stunning spiral cakes. Bundt cake pans are all great. Their shape is ingenius in that it allows the cake to cook through by circulating hot air through the center. Cake lovers, that means no soggy middle and quick baking. I found a couple of my Bundt pans at estate sales. They may very well be close to 50 years old and still work perfectly. There are so many out there in different shapes and sizes. Find one you love. White Dinnerware
If I knew then what I know now, all my plates and bowls, platters and pitchers would all be solid white. White dinnerware looks beautiful on any table setting, in any season, on any budget. It showcases the food, which is most important and, best of all, broken pieces are easy to match and replace. White china looks great in any kitchen whether rustic or modern. It truly defines the functional kitchen with its versatility in form and function. Don’t forget to pick up a couple of larger bowls for mixing batter and serving soup, salad and such.
I’m still fighting a battle with myself as to whether/not I should get that food mill. Maybe I miss my grandmothers. I want to be in that sunny basement again, in front of that white wooden table holding bowls of sweet tomato paste ripened under the hot summer sun.
Outfitting a functional kitchen should not cost a fortune. Most tools cost under $10. Opting for the cheap stuff will cost more in the long run, because you will need to keep buying replacement items. Invest in a few, good quality essentials that will serve you for years. Take inspiration from the pros. The chef’s kitchen has very basic things that take a beating and never fail. Professional chefs in commercial kitchens may want to opt for products such as Nella Cutlery. You won’t see any new-fangled “As Seen on TV” gizmos. The modern kitchen is sleek, organized, efficient and free from clutter. The goal is to create a minimally equipped functional kitchen. Stock up on the basics, let necessity dictate what’s missing, but remember to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” For all your cooking appliance and tool needs, you will find everything you’re looking for at Sous Vide Tools, a gold trusted service who offers shipping worldwide.
*This is not a sponsored post. These are actual products we own and use in our kitchen.