I think I may have always enjoyed cooking. I can remember my 6th grade home economics class being the highlight of my awkward adolescent (hello, braces AND glasses!) middle school day. Although, I’d like to think my skill set and repertoire has grown exponentially since those days, I still believe that any good home chef needs to start with the basics.
Basic tools + basic recipes + basic fresh ingredients = great results.
Style and design have become so intertwined, that it’s easy to forget that the beautiful mixing spoon you have in your hand is actually meant for something other than prominent display! Don’t worry, you can have the best of both worlds if you stick to this shopping list of kitchen basics:
Good pots & pans: I cannot emphasize enough the importance of investing in good cookware. A good piece of cookware will conduct and distribute heat more evenly, allowing the food to cook in a more uniform fashion and potentially preventing any “hot spots” and unintentional charred results. While the sticker price is admittedly painful (to say the least), a good set of pots and pans will literally last a lifetime- and beyond. That’s why Grandma’s old pots are the best!
Fresh ground pepper & kosher salt: Look in any professional, or gourmet kitchen and these are two things that will always be front and center. Pre-packaged ground pepper just doesn’t have the same piquant flavor as freshly ground- try them both and you’ll see/taste the difference! Kosher salt has the perfect texture and flavor for both cooking AND finishing food. Two MUSTS.
Cutlery: Did you know that most kitchen injuries are caused by dull knives? If you have a proper sharp knife, the blade will glide through most foods like “buttah’!” It’s the dragging, pushing and pulling of a dull blade that may lead to an unexpected trip to the ER. Some people swear by the Japanese knives, but I’m personally partial to the Germans. I prefer the heavier weight in my hand and more substantial blade. Before making a knife purchase, it’s really helpful to go to a kitchen supply store and test out all of the different options. Like your most flattering pair of jeans, you gotta try a lot of duds before finding the perfect match.
Fresh herbs: Aside from looking pretty and saving you money (those little containers from the grocery store cost $3-5 and never seem to last long enough!), fresh herbs make a HUGE difference in the flavor of the dishes you create. No question.
Heavy cast iron cookware: Yes, more pots and pans. These are safe from stovetop, to oven, to dishwasher. They’re even pretty enough to bring directly to the table. Le Creuset is my all time favorite when it comes to this type of cookware, but there are also a bunch of less expensive options available that will get the job done. It’s the perfect vessel for those labor-of-love braises and stews.
Mixing bowls, measuring cups & spoons: First of all, how pretty are those bowls? I’m in love. If you like to bake, measurement is key. These are the tools that will ensure the perfectly fudgy brownies and the super tender biscuits.
Kitchen towels: From quick spill clean-ups, to pot holders in a pinch, a good set of kitchen towels is a must for every home cook. When you find a set of towels as cute as these, that’s just an added bonus (and a great way to add some personality to your kitchen)!
What essentials do YOU swear by in your kitchen?