Friday, February 22, 2008

Kitchen Essentials, Part 2

You know what?

This doesn't feel right.

When I write these posts and then after I read them....I feel like they're snotty and bossy. Do you feel like that when you read these posts? I don't mean for them to be.....I mean for them to be "sharing" posts. I think this will be my last post on this subject.

So - my kitchen is small. I don't have a lot of gadget-y type items. At one time I was eyein' up that salad dressing measuring thingy from Pampered Chef that Lisa and Cutzi talked about, but I don't have room for everything I want. My kitchen is already overflowing.

Any hoo.... here are a few more things I love. Are you ready?

I would freak If I had this cookware set. Normally there's something missing in every set, but not this one! NO SIR. But it's $2400.00.

I don't know too many people who part with that kind of money up-front for cookware.

But If I could? I'd do it.The two absolute essentials from that set (in my opinion) are the 10 and 12-inch skillets and the 3-quart saute pan (below). Whoops! I guess that's 3 things.My 12-inch skillet is an inexpensive nonstick restaurant style one from Sam's Club. I use it all of the time, but I'd love an All Clad stainless one (not nonstick). I'd never pay big money for nonstick. The nonstick coating doesn't last long enough to justify the cost.

Here's a little secret: If you're patient, you can collect your All Clad from Homegoods or TJ Maxx. MJ and I do it all of the time. MJ got a gorgeous Copper All Clad 3 quart saucepan for $39, I think.

And while I'm on the subject of All Clad.....all of my cookware isn't this brand. My 3 quart saute is Calphalon (I got it free when I worked at a cooking school), but I WISH it were All Clad. There are a few more pieces that are other brands as well, but I'm slowly replacing them with All Clad. In a perfect world we'd all have that $2400.00 set, Internets.

Having said that, People who like to cook can cook in anything. And the test kitchens I work in don't have this stuff.

Pyrex custard cups. 6-oz and 10-oz. I like this brand the best. I have pretty little white ramekins, but they don't stack well. I use the custard cups the most.
Kitchen shears.

4 cup pyrex measuring cup. I use it as a mixing bowl a lot.
Batter Bowl/pyrex 8 cup measuring cup. I also use these as mixing bowls. By the way? I bought an 8-cup Martha Stewart measuring cup from K mart and it's CRAP. Anytime I try to pour something from it, it sprays everywhere.

Microplane grater. I carry this with me when I'm working.

Locking tongs. I've been giving this really cool kind as wedding and shower gifts, but I just have this simple pair from WS. I'm too cheap to buy the cool kind for myself and I'm happy with the ones I've got.

I know I've mentioned this before, but it's worth another mention: The Turn-About from Pampered Chef. Yes - it's not pretty. But sometimes practicality trumps beauty, right?

An offset spatula. This one is large - but I like the smaller one better. I carry this with me to work, too. You can get them at Target, I think. They're cheap - unlike this one from WS $28. Crazy.

A few things that I don't have but are on my list:

A really nice food mill. I'll never spend the money on this. I want an expensive one and I'd hardly ever use it - I just know it. But, boy, it'd be nice for sauces and perfectly smooth soups.

Pasta machine. I'm always using my pal, Hilary's machine. It's really fun to use. And we do it as a family. Actually, Franklin's Mom gave me a gift certificate to a cookware store and I think I'm going to buy this.

A really nice mandoline with removable blades that can be sharpened. I'll probably never buy this for myself. But I want it. The food processor just doesn't give you the control you need for perfect slices.

Dudes I can't tell you how many times I've bought this book - and never once has it been for myself. MJ and I bought it for the Target Test Kitchen and somebody stole it. It's that good. I've bought it for many a bride - like Michelle! And she loves it, too. Well, it's officially on my list. I will get it in a couple of weeks, I think.

Dude. I wish this thing were as cheap as that cookbook! I'm so glad to be working on a regular basis again! I will buy this ASAP.

Oh sweet JESUS! I know you've never seen this before (Heh.) But it's 30 inches of dual fuel-convection lovliness. If Zuddy ever told me, "Martha, it's me or the stove - you can't have the both of us."

I'd pack for Zuddy's departure and give him a long, loving kiss and pat him on the behind as he left my life forever.

Awwwwww come ON! You know I'm joking. I'd totally try to get him back after a couple of years.

What are YOUR favorite kitchen items?

(All photos are from Williams-Sonoma, Pyrex, Pampered Chef and


Thirkellgirl said...

It never occurred to me that you were snotty or bossy, but perhaps that because I'm comfortable with that style of discourse. :) Just kidding. I couldn't live without my great wooden cutting boards (my dad made them) or my heavy-duty broiling pan, which I now use for baking/broiling/roasting since I practically throw out my back getting my Le Creuset pans out of the bottom cabinet. And I use my small food processor for making pesto all summer.

Mrs. Jones said...

I do love my tongs, and I also have a bunch of those little bowl-thingies. I use them all the time. I have 1 really great knife. I choked on the price when I bought it, but it was worth every single penny. I even cut cardboard up with it. When I first got it, I wasn't used to actually having a sharp knife, and I cut the very tip of my finger off. Yep, that's how good I am in the kitchen. I even managed to burn soup the other day.

And you're not too bossy. I'm masochistic.

Mrs. Jones said...

Oh, and I saw one of those mandoline things on Tyler's Ultimate. Do I watch that show to become a better cook? Nope. Just to get a little chef eye-candy.

Lady P said...

You don't come across as snotty or bossy. Your writing is funny and sometimes there's some sly humour on the side. I enjoy your posts and there is always something to make laugh out loud!

As to indispensible kitchen items... hmm... I bought a fancy sifter that it wonderful; my expensive measuring cups were worth it all those many years ago. Now on my list? A freakin' spatzle contraption that WORKS. We love spatzle in my house but getting those noodles cut and dropped into water ~ without a gummy, sticky mess and half the pasta stuck to the bowl/counter/ my fingers...GRRRR ~ is such a royal pain!!

jilly said...

Oh I LURVE your posts and you do not come across as snotty or bossy at all. I especially love ones like this because I love to cook.

Question-what do you think about Circulon pots and pans? I got mine as a gift about 10 years ago and I LOVE them. I have added a grill pan and a steamer to my set but I am really looking for a 5 qt stock pot, but from Marshall's or TJ Maxx because I don't want to pay a ton.

Also, my favorite ingredient little dishes like ramekins are from PC and they come in a set of 8 and have lids so that you can store stuff in them. This helps me a ton with prep work. I actually split a set with my mom because I figured four were enough.

I also LOVE and absolutely need a good set of knives, I can't work without them and I even made my boyfriend buy a set so that I could cook at his house too. Oh and a good bamboo cutting board. Marshall's and TJ Maxx always have them very reasonably. I have a convection/toaster oven and if given the choice would choose a good convection oven would be from heaven.

I am going to find a set of those tongs and I have a 30% off at Borders and was trying to decide what to use it on, I have been wanting to get that book!

Cutzi said...

Oh. I, for one, think you're the snottiest, bossiest boss there ever was. And I'm never coming back to read this blog again. Always bossin' us internets around - making us look at all your beautiful houses and forcing your culinary opinions on us. The nerve!! And then, to make it even worse - you hold our faces to the computer and make us look at sweet pictures of your cutie noodle and dear Zuddy. I'm gettin' all fired up just thinkin' about it. And to top it all off - you subject us to pant-peeing torture by feeding us all your hilarious Fanilow stories. I should have left you long ago... I'll never learn.

Michelle said...

Martha, I LOVE these posts--not a hint of snootiness! And you are absolutely right about all of it--you gave me half of the stuff in this post for a shower gift (she is one generous auntie), and every single thing you gave me competes for my favorite kitchen item. I have to say, for practically and coolness factor, the magical tongs you gave me are my favorite. But I use the custard cups all the time--I have one on the counter under my leaky cold water handle, and I think of you at least twice a day when I empty it!

The Test Kitchen Cookbook has pretty much changed our lives in the kitchen--it's that good. Most of our favorite meals come from that cookbook. The Middle Eastern Pitas are incredible (we use turkey, not lamb), and the French toast recipe is the best I've ever had (a tiny bit of flour makes it crispy on the outside). The cookbook has great reviews on the best ingredients to use, the best utensils, and really creative, practical suggestions. It hasn't let us down yet. Thank you again, Martha, for the best shower gift EVER!

Michelle said...

One more thing. Just yesterday I listened to a stream on how advertisers are starting to realize how much blogs are informing people's decisions on which products to buy. There is a lot of power and trust in these communities, and buyers are starting to put more trust in a blogger's thumbs up or thumbs down than in advertising or professional reviews. So you're using your experience to help us make smart purchasing decisions. This is great stuff!

Beth said...

Hey, I'm all about bossiness and it doesn't faze me a bit when someone else bosses me. :) As long as you have experience in what you're bossing about I'll listen and glean good information from what you say.

IOW, don't tell me how to communicate with my 18 year old if your oldest is 18 months...that's the only kind of bossiness that annoys me, and I don't see it on your blog.

I LOVE kitchen equipment. My favorite things are my:

1. KitchenAid mixer
2. Zojirushi bread machine
3. enameled cast iron dutch oven (it's a LeCreuset knock-off by Innova and I use it almost every day)
4. Tramontina sauce pans (AllClad knock-off from Home Goods...probably not as good as the real thing, but I like them)
5. Silicone spatulas, I don't know what brand mine are, they came from Target.
6. Zyliss garlic press
7. Zyliss ice cream scoop

MJ said...

I adore my copper All Clad. But, I have to brag about my garage sale Le Creuset pots...again. I paid $3 for my big one listed at $350 at WS and $2 for my little one listed at $160. Pot collecting is my favorite sport. Oh, that used black cast iron skillet with finish as smooth as a baby's butt, love it. That's a treasure. I got my food mill at a garage sale for pennies. It's an aluminum Foley and it's good but I wish it was stainless. Since I use it once every two years, I don't think I'll replace it.

Lisa said...


I love love love to be bossed, so I dont mind, this is why I come here, Its the best bossiness out there. Plus, you all are kind of friendly. In a bossy kind of way.I love that in a friend.

I really appreciated all the sweetness about my BF, Missy. She definately is missed.She really would love all this humor up in here. Get a grip on your girlfriends and squeeze them tight, you NEVER know. Not to be sick and twisted that way...but..

Now, My favorite kitchen tool has to be the kitchen aide mixer. Adore it. Also love my good knives, since I am a shop owner, scored excellent knives at close out off of cost,, ya, I know..your cussing at me. I still keep them in the fancy smanchy box after I use them because I dont want anything to happen to them. There special that way. I also love and adore my Grama Marys old white pyrex mixing bowls.
I need to get my hands on that cookbook.
Martha, do you have that Range?
Girlfriends, have a great day..
Love to all--
coastal nest

Martha said...

Thirkellgirl -
That's so nice to have those homemade cutting boards from your dad!

Heath -
Hel-lo Tyler :)

Lady P -
Oh girl....I hear you on the Spatzle press. I tried using my potato ricer once, but it didn't work well. I just saw one at the cooking store near my home.

Jilly -
I like Circulon. They distribute heat very evenly. Good stuff, sister! And the next time I have to go to one of those PC parties I'm totally getting those cups. They're so cute that I want to cry.

Cutz -
Go and make me some refrieds RIGHT NOW!

Yes. The mixer. I use it the most of any of my small electrics, for sure.
I don't have that stove (yet) I want it, even though I haven't done a lick of research on it. I'm totally going on it's looks and the fact that it's dual fuel. I'm very shallow that way :)

Cutzi said...

Ahhh yes!! I think the MS recipe was the one I had too. Please, send it over if you find it.

Janet said...

I have a shower to go to tomorrow and I have been totally clueless about what to get and we had a snow "storm" today an it screwed up everything, but now I think I will give an IOU for the cookbook and get a microplane and tongs. I am old fashioned and get annoyed when everyone tells me I *need* to spend $100 for a shower gift, it is *expected*. Well, guess what? I don't have $100. to spend on a friend's daughter whom I hardly know. Plus there is still the wedding gift. End of rant!! I could not live without my 34 y.o. Kitchenaid mixer and I love my tongs and microplane. I have a non-stick (yeah, I know) 12" Food Network skillet, heavy metal, not the colored enamel ones, that I just love so far.

See ya,

Sarah said...

Hmmm. I suck in the kitchen. Todd cooks.... most of the time.

But I will take that stove in your post, and like that dishwasher too.

You are not bossy - you are HEEL-ARRIOUS!

Janelle said...

Snotty and bossy is SO not how I think of you or your posts!

I am a huge fan of those little Pyrex custard cups, and I have some smaller jelly glass type custard cups from the 40s or 50s that I love, too.

I have one nice big chef's knife that I would be lost without. My mom got me this weird onion chopper thingy for Christmas and I thought, "why would I want to clean this when all I have to do is wipe off my knife?"

And I adore my red kitchenaid mixer that I got refurbished a couple years ago. If it was a guy, I'd have a carnal relationship with it.

I need to start trolling TJ Maxx and Marshall's for some top-quality cookware. I'm okay with my Oneida set, but it would be great to have something *really* top-notch.

Lisa @ Take90West said...

I love my tongs, and I have the PC batter bowls with the lids that you showed. I love them. I also have 1 chef's knife. I wish I had a whole set, but I have 1 really good one that I paid a lot for and it is the best knife ever. And my Kitchenaid mixer. Worth its weight in gold.

I would love a mandolin!

paperjunk-lc said...

I really like my trash compactor it crushes Happy Meal toys!!! And I only have to take the trash out once a week!!
Actually I think one of the most essential items in our kitchen is a good sharpened knife. My husband {years ago} used to be a chef. Knifes are so essential to a chef they bring their own to work.
One item on his wish list is a mandoline...anybody out there use one???


yup that's you...Miss Bossy pants! you and that other Martha...tee hee. just like the other Martha you are very informative and I respect your opinion! the thing I love most in my kitchen is my Kitchen Aid Mixer!

gordostyle said...

Quit being so paranoid! You're SWEET! You're not snotty AT ALL! Girl, it's your talk and write what you want to...and we'll all read it like we always do! :o)


f said...

My favorite kitchen gadget is the stripper: that little device for removing a strip of lemon peel so I can make a couple of Scotch & sodas for me & MJ.

Bristol said...

I liked your post. My dad bought my Mom a really expensive mandoline for Christmas one year. She's scared to use it, it looks dangerous:)))

Amy said...

My faves in the kitchen are
1. My set of Wusthof knives...LOVE THEM...especially the santoku knife that I gave to my DH for his birthday, he loves to cook too.
2. My food processor.
3. My 8 cup pyrex measuring cup/mixing bowl
4. My newest gadget...a cast iron apple peeler/corer. Mine is a really solid one by Back-to-Basics that suctions onto your countertop. I love making apple desserts and applesauce so this gadget has been fantastic for me. I can put together an apple crisp in less than minutes.

I do have a fancy mandoline. I never use it...why? I don't know, maybe it is pain to clean, I don't even remember! Martha, maybe you should borrow mine for awhile.

Also, regarding spatzle, my cousin makes a fantastic spatzle with a ricer. I ask her about the brand.

Ivy said...

I found your blog after a google search for off set spatula... I like your photo and came here.
You are funny!
I am using that photo to show my husband what Santa needs to put in my stocking.
I am going to go back and read some of your blog....
Thanks for sharing your kitchen "wants"... I'm right there with ya!