If home is where the heart is, my home is in the kitchen. I truly love to cook, and while I’m no expert chef, I do take pride in cooking. It appeals to me, because cooking is both a science and an art. It’s a science because you’re mixing ingredients and creating chemical reactions, and it’s an art because of how you present the final dish.
Having said that, there are a few things I’ve found to be absolutely essential in the kitchen. I could’ve made a much longer list than what I’ve presenting you with, but I find these 6 kitchen essentials to be the bare minimum for a “well-equipped” kitchen (or the start of one). So read on!
A cast iron pan
A good cast iron pan is going to serve you for a lifetime. Cast iron cookware goes back thousands of years, before people started cooking with aluminum or non-stick pans. Cast iron pans heat up more evenly, are perfect for browning and searing meats, and have zero risk of releasing harmful gases.
Nonstick cookware, such as those that use Teflon, are known to release harmful gases when heated above a certain temperature. There are so many benefits to owning a good cast iron pan, it’s a wonder why they ever went out of style.
Good kitchen knives
A serious chef requires top chef knives, but we’re not just talking about sharpness. The build quality is a major factor as well, especially in the handle. Cheap kitchen knives, especially those sold in bargain sets in supermarkets, tend to have thin, welded handles which can easily bend and break over time. They’re poorly balanced, which makes cutting more difficult. The blades easily dull.
The list of problems with cheap kitchen knives goes on, so do yourself a favour and splurge a bit on your tools. If you don’t know where to start, this samurai knives collection is definitely worth a look.
Bakeware is an important addition to any kitchen, as many great dishes call for baking. Lasagna, chicken pot pie, casserole, baked cheesy macaroni, banana bread.. Oh, the list goes on of wonderful dishes to cook with bakeware. But as we mentioned earlier, nonstick cookware can ultimately be harmful.
With glass bakeware, heat is retained longer, which is important as oven temperatures can fluctuate throughout cooking. So even if the temperature in your oven drops, the glass bakeware will continue evenly cooking your food. Glass is non-reactive, which means it doesn’t release any elements into the food. Finally, you can see through the glass, to make sure all sides of the food are cooked, not only the top.
You’d be surprised how many people don’t own tongs. It’s mind-boggling! They use a spatula for everything. Have you ever tried dropping food into boiling hot oil, or retrieving pieces of fried chicken from the pan, using only a spatula? It’s madness, we don’t know why anyone would subject themselves to such difficulty.
Tongs are just the perfect tool for grasping and submerging (or retrieving) pieces of food, especially from a pan of boiling hot oil.
A timer and food thermometer
I knew someone who thought they didn’t need a timer or food thermometer while baking. They just “knew” when the food was done. This mostly involved constantly checking the food, and poking it to see if it was cooked all the way through yet.
One day this person tried baking a cake, and kept opening the oven door and poking it to see if it was done yet. The cake, predictably, pretty much cooked unevenly, and was super gooey with uncooked cake batter in the middle. Why? Because they kept opening the oven door, letting heat out, and poking at the cake with toothpicks.
A timer and food thermometer take away all the guesswork. So stop guessing, and buy these essential kitchen items.
If you’re going to be mixing up different ingredients and seasonings, then you need prep bowls. Regular bowls, like used for soup or cereal, simply don’t cut it when mixing up large batches of something. You don’t need anything special, just a few large bowls of different sizes.
It helps so much when you’re preparing several dishes at the same time, so you don’t need for example to wash the flour out of a bowl for breaded chicken before you can use it for something else. You just have various prep bowls ready on standby. It also helps to keep your ingredients separated and organized.