I love the podcast Spilled Milk. It's produced by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette fame and Matthew Amster-Burton. They're witty and hilarious and even though the 18-minute podcast is about food, it's not really - it's like listening to a very comical and sparing talk show with two very vibrant hosts; except you don't have to watch the television and can do other things (like answer e-mail or clean your apartment) while listening.
They recently released an episode on utensils. Both hosts had to show each other their three favorite kitchen utensils and it became a show-down. I originally thought: "SNOOZE. I can skip this one..." But in an apartment-cleaning moment, I pressed play and actually enjoyed the episode. And it made think that I should share some of my favorite kitchen utensils here. Some may not be so necessary - but they do make cooking more enjoyable, which helps get you into the kitchen more often.
Utensil #1: Mini Food Processor. Big Girls Small Kitchen has been exaulting this kitchen appliance for a long time. When I began testing for their cookbook, they made sure I had one on-hand. It really does do everything. You can use it to make bread crumbs, pesto, hummus, honey butter. The bonus is that it's so small that it stores easily and lightly on a shelf or in a cabinet.
Utensil #2: Flat-edged wooden spoon. I bought mine on a whim in order to give my basic wooden spoon a rest. It's incredible. My round spoon sits in the drawer and this flat-edged spoon/spatula has become a real work horse. It's perfect for scrambling eggs, sauting onions or veggies, even smoothing the tops of quiches.
Utensil #3: I know, I'm spoon-crazy. But my chef's spoon is very handy. I use it to ladle out soup and stir sauces. It's a handy tasting spoon as well. In cooking school, it was recommended that we each buy one. I thought it unnecessary. Why not just use a regular spoon?! But I'm a convert and this, next to my flat-edged wooden spoon, may be my most used kitchen accessory. Interesting... seems as if I'm not the only spoon fanatic.
Utensil #4: Small sauce pan. I use mine to reheat leftovers in a flash (good tip: you should never store a big pot of soup or stew in the fridge. Make sure you place it into small - medium storage counters. This way it will cool MUCH more quickly and keep better. It will also make the leftovers look more manageable). I also use it to make oatmeal in the mornings or sugar syrup for lemonade. Speaking of lemonade, I recently used this hefty hand-held tool instead of my usual method of just halving and then squeezing lemons by hand. I was able to extract more juice and it was a lot quicker.
Utensil #5: Nice table linens. We don't use paper napkins and although keeping up with the laundry can be annoying, it makes a table look so pretty. We use linen napkins typically, but they do have to be ironed or using my method: once washed, fold neatly and place under a heavy coffee table book. Voila! Pressed napkins without breaking out the ironing board. I also love place mats. We have so many, but they really look lovely on a table. Kitchen towels (versus paper towels) are also a must have. I use mine as pot holders in addition to wiping up spills or drying my knifes and cutting board after washing.
Utensil #6: I'm bad. I'll admit it. I often use this cheapo knife sharpener when I'm low on time and don't feel like using my wet stone. It's quick and although I'm sure it's not great for your knife, better to have a sharp knife versus dull one. Is it bad that I could only find it on camping and hunting websites?!
Utensil #7: You can't go wrong with a sturdy and classic Dutch oven. I use it for everything from boiling pasta to making soups/stews or braising meat in the oven. It doesn't have to be a Le Creuset, but should be high quality so that it lasts for a lifetime (literally). The 5 1/2 qt. size is an excellent place to start. I have a 4 1/2 qt. and 7 qt. - both too big and too small. Pick one in the middle.
Any kitchen favorites that I forgot? Please leave a comment.