Sunday, July 10, 2011

Favorite Kitchen Tools

I've read a few articles in trendy home magazines about people who are so chic, so uptown, so fabulous that rather than cook, they use the kitchens in their oh-so-moderne studios as additional storage.  Witness the woman who keeps sweaters neatly folded in her oven and various home gadgets in her (unplugged) fridge.  While it certainly sounds fab, let's be clear: that's never going to happen around here.

Every square inch of real estate in my kitchen is put to good use - in fact, we recently did a thoughtful resuscitation (remodel is just not the appropriate word) of our kitchen.  Watch for a thoroughly enthusiastic post on that and my dreamy pantry in the near future.  For now, I'd like to wax poetic about the specific items in my kitchen that make me happy.  You'll note I'm not going with gadgets exclusively - I love the utilitarian term tool much more because it denotes the items I use to accomplish things, whether they be happiness or a meal.  Without further ado:

1.  Hooks.  Everywhere.  For sink towels, aprons, bananas (hang one under a cabinet and get rid of that counter space hogging banana hanger), oven mitts etc.  Here's my preference, but I'll allow you to choose your own (although I'm just saying, these are the best...):

2.  Chalkboards.  We just repurposed most of our kitchen around ample chalkboards.  I'll just put this out there: I hate fridge clutter.  Disclaimer: I'm totally ok with it and nonjudgmental at your house (really!), but I hate it in mine.  And yet, I'm fine with cluttered chalkboards dripping with magnets and notes.  To each her own!  (More on the chalkboards and the entire kitchen redux soon)

3.  Storage containers.  My poor husband has grown to tolerate the fact that when I return from the store and unload all my purchases from my own produce and shopping bags (this too, he tolerates), I will immediately remove everything from its packaging and place it in my own containers just to confuse everyone.  Not really - I generally choose clear containers such as mason jars for pasta, granola bars, snacks and so forth, but I repackage it all nonetheless.  It just makes me happier.  Retro packaging?  Love it - but everything else has to be repackaged or placed out of site.

4.  The Chip Can.  All my growing up years, my Mom kept potato chips (Lay's, specifically) in a large red can on top of the fridge.  Recently, my husband remarked that we ought to do that.  God bless him.  Lo and behold, I had just the can raring to go.  I've had it for ages and hadn't thought to put it into service.  Find it below - it just so happens it holds precisely two large bags of Lay's potato chips snugly.  I think there is something immensely satisfying about making a good sandwich and putting the can of potato chips on the table.

5.  The perfect spice rack.  I love this double decker spinning spice rack my Mom found for me a few years ago.  I do have a large, separate spice storage area (more on that to come in the future), but these are my quick grab, most-frequently-used staples so it stays near my stove along with the spoons and cooking implements, but not too close due to the high temperatures.

6.  May I cheat a bit and cite my entire coffee station?  K thanks.  This station includes: my red Kitchen Aid coffee pot, post-consumer content coffee filters (I know, I need to switch to reusable) stored in a Prince Albert tobacco can that belonged to my grandfather, a coffee grinder (essential for imparting a heavenly aroma), spoons and sugar/sweetener easily accessible and a Coffeyville, KS brick because it makes me smile.  Also, please note: that's gorgeous backer board you see in the background because the tile isn't up yet in this photo.  Patience, my pretties.

7.  Measure equivalents magnet.  I married smart so I wouldn't have to be, and no matter what, I can't remember how many tablespoons make half a cup.  Granted, as you'll note if you've read my disclaimers - especially #4, I do not excel at following directions closely, but in baking it is an occasional necessity.  And I do love the baked goods.  This magnet, by the way, looks très chic on my magnetic chalkboard.

8.  A recycling bin.  Duh.  Who cooks without composting and recycling these days?  If you're holding out, stop.  Grab two inexpensive matching trash cans and don't worry about labeling - train your family.  Use a mini galvanized trash can or even an old coffee can for compost depending on what you generate, and just start, for pete's sake.  This isn't a major undertaking.  All the cool cooks are doing it.

9.  In terms of actual implements, I favor wooden spoons and J.A. Henckels knives, in case you're wondering.

10.  Last but not least, I love these drinking glasses with red lids by Luminarc.  I have a set each of the 14 and 21 ounce sizes.  They are awesome for a million different uses, from everyday drinking glasses to ferreting cold cereal in the car when I dash out the door without breakfast.  Great non-plastic storage, good for sauces, wide enough to hold large cooking spoons while stirring stovetop items etc.

What are some of the unique items or must-haves in your kitchen?  Next up is my kitchen wish list, and I'll be anxious to know what you're crushing on for cooking!


  1. My favorite kitchen tool is my microplane! I use it for garlic, nutmeg and zesting. It's present at nearly every meal prep.

    I dont really have any organizing tips (boy do I need some) but I did use my label maker to label all the shelves in my pantry. Now when I see an empty space I immediately know what went there and what I need to buy!

  2. I have really high quality pots and pans. It makes all the difference in the world in cooking and cleaning. They are stored on a pot rack, which freed up a HUGE amount of cabinet space.
    The other things I use most are: garic press, wooden spatulas & spoons, a citrus peeler (yep, they exist and they are wonderful if you eat a lot of oranges and grapefruits), a citrus press, a butter dish (that stays out on the counter for room temp butter) and a Keurig (that my husband uses for coffee and I use for the hot water for tea).

  3. Okay, here is the criteria I used: if I only had enough room for 5 kitchen tools what would they be?


    1) my super-duper thick butcher block cutting board
    2) my sudoku knife
    3) my paring knife
    4) my microplane grater
    5) my old cast iron skillet


    1) my Anthropologie little ceramic jar with cork lid for holding sea salt
    2) my muddler that my grandpa hand carved
    3) my pantry closet door is a built-in chalkboard
    4) my cabinets over the sink (with glass front) holds cookbooks, not glasses
    5) my little white ceramic saucers from Italy that are perfect spoon rests!

  5. Julie - what a great organizing idea! And I love the microplane. I once went to a coffee shop in Seattle that served a great mocha with orange zest - I need to replicate that!

  6. Steph - what great additions. Love the citrus peeler. I've been meaning to make the butter dish switch - good one!

  7. Lyndi - LOVELY additions as always!! Love the approach to "most uniques." Mine would have to be my herbes de provence container from Dijon, France.

    Also, I adore prep bowls, but that's almost deserving of a whole separate post! Thanks for the great feedback, ladies!

  8. I loved ur posts and wat information that u issued is really very usefull for us .. thanks...............

    Kitchen Equipment