Or you could use your cast iron to press tofu, whatever works right?
I come from a family of foodies. A lot of people tell me they come from a long line of foodies, but I have yet to meet any family that is as passionate about food as the Burleson Clan. I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen with my Grandma and Papa amidst the friendly bickering over sauces, fluffy rolls, tender meats, and perfectly baked pies. These folks know how to cook. My Dad can look at a fridge of literally nothing and create a mouthwatering masterpiece. Two main principles that I learned as a child:
- It isn’t complicated.
- Multiple appliances are handy, but aren’t necessary
The question is, what does a home cook really need? I am going to start with what I believe are the essentials, and then I am going to give a second list of items I believe are extra convenient.
We lived in a 115 year old apartment this past year, and the kitchen was TINY. I learned how to maximize the space I had! Oh, also there is my husband on Easter Sunday helping me out with some prep.
- A cast iron pan: I have an entire set of really nice All-Clad pans that I love and use, but without a doubt the over 100 year old 10 inch cast iron pan, passed from Sam’s mother, receives the most attention. I bake, sauté, and re-heat to perfection in this one pan. After I’m done with pancakes, cornbread, pizza, baked tofu, or any other endeavor, I simply wipe it out! Simplicity at its finest.
- Vitamix Blender: Yes it is possible to cook without this blender; however, I believe that it is one of the best investments you can make for your health. I love smoothies, but to be honest that is not why I love the Vitamix. I blend flours, whip up sauces, create nut butters and milks and puree soups. It is easy breezy to clean and if I’m going to be away from my kitchen for more than 3 days, I travel with it.
- Zyliss julienne peeler and Y- peeler: I acquired my julienne peeler when I was hanging out with my friend Katie. I was rummaging through her kitchen drawer while we were making dinner, and I asked her what it was. She responded that she didn’t know what it was for but it was gifted to her at a wedding shower. She said I could have it if I wanted. I took it home and realized I had struck gold. It spiyralizes zucchini, carrots and cucumbers with no fuss at all! I also own a Paderno Spiralizer, but I find myself far preferring this simple $7 tool for the minimal hassle. I use it almost every day for salads, and it is small enough to travel with. I bought the zyliss y-peeler this year because the one I had wasn’t working very well. I use the y-peeler to make large ribbon zoodles for veggie lasagna, peeling butternut squash effortlessly, and any other skin peeling that needs to go down.
- At least one descent and sharp knife: I will be the first to admit that I really don’t know very much about nice knives. When cooking plants, you don’t need a super nice knife, but you do need a sharp knife to prevent injury. Not to mention how frustrating it is when you are trying to cut a pepper or a tomato and can’t break through the skin. In short, to keep your fingers and prevent tremendous frustration, make sure you are using a knife that is sharp.
- Metal utensils: I like to use metal pans and utensils because they don’t melt when they get hot. To me, it seems pretty common sense, but a lot of kitchens I have been in, have only plastic because of the non-stick pans they are trying to protect. A cascade of consequences! As long as you are cooking at the right temperature, a high quality metal pan will not stick. I use very little to no oil when I’m cooking, and in most cases a little vegetable broth or water can also prevent sticking.
- A bamboo cutting board: Honestly, any cutting board that is NOT plastic, is a good choice. A lot of people have plastic because they can be cleaned with a dishwasher. I get that, but understand that when you are using sharp knives on plastic, it is very likely that plastic is in your food. Yikes.
Tools that are handy, but aren’t deal breakers:
- Cuisnart Food Processor: This is the food processor that I have, but I’m sure many others would do the job! I like this one specifically because it has 2 attachments that slice and grate. It cleans up very easily, and I use it almost daily. There are some things that the food processor does better than the Vitamix. Hummus, protein balls and pudding to name a few. I love the ease of chopping veggies extremely fast!!
- Kitchen-Aid Mixer : I struggle if this one should go in the absolute essential tools because of how useful it is. However, it is pretty bulky! For the tiny kitchen, it can be a burden. I also don’t use it every single day. I like it for mixing veggie burgers and making cookies obviously.
As time marches on, I most certainly will add to this list. Recommendations and suggestions are always welcome!