Cooking, cooking, cooking! If I had an endless supply of ingredients to cook, I would do it 24/7. Like I've said, I just love cooking in my kitchen so much. I love creating something beautiful and delicious out of the natural beauty nature has given us to craft something of our own with. Most of the crafting and creating comes during the prep. That's were things are cut, sliced, blended, zested, mixed, and poured. That's where the fun is. Not the time you're standing around for something to bake in the oven or standing over the stove making sure you're pancakes don't burn. The prep you do is the time to get inspired by your ingredients, get crazy, messy, and have fun. Kitchen prep can be simple with just cutting and mixing, but it can also require some more tools than just a knife. Here are 15 of my top kitchen prep tools and why I find them so!
Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap 10 Cup Food Processor - This is the greatest appliance I have. I think. I am in love with my food processor! I have about 4 or 5 blenders and I have never been happy with any. I've tried them all and they just don't do the job. When I finally got an actual food processor, my life changed forever! Talk about blending, chopping, power! You can even grate things with this! Nut butter has never been easier to make, veggie burgers are a cinch, and hummus comes out so creamy! I don't make smoothies, so a blender is a waste for me. You can do everything and more with a good food processor and I really recommend this one!
Chef's Knife - I use the same (years old) Food Network chef's/prep knife for everything! The only knife I use! I got it for Christmas years and years ago and wish they still sold it! But alas, you need a quality chef's knife if you're going to do any cooking. No way around it, a quality sharp knife is the most essential tool to have!
Fine Mesh Strainer - I need to wash a lot of veggies, fruits, grains and beans. I even always rinse anything that comes in a can. I don't like normal colanders, I prefer a fine mesh strainer instead. The one I use I think came form the dollar store, and sadly after a few years of use, the handle broke off! However, i become attached to my kitchen tools and I still use it (I just hold the rim, not the handle). A mesh strainer is much better for washing though when you have little things like quinoa to wash off!
Measuring Cups - Obviously, you need accurate measurements at times. Even though I don't measure most things when I cook, some things do require it. A good set of measuring cups is indeed a must. I'm also going to confess something. Most of the time (most) I use measuring cups and not a liquid measuring cups for liquids. I know, I know, cooking sin! But since I don't do a ton of finicky baking, when cooking, you don't need the accurate "liquid" precision 😉 I still have a liquid measuring cup, but I'm lazy. So do as I say, not as I do.
Measuring Spoons - I have about 4 sets of measuring spoons. There are two sets that I use though. One I use for more baking things and the other I use for cooking and spices. Again, I only measure spices when writing recipes for you guys. Most often I just eyeball it after years of cooking. But I do use my tablespoon about 50 times a day. Funny story; I though someone stole my tablespoon when I was at school last year. One day it just disappeared! I was so upset. Then months later when I came home, I randomly put my hand in the pocket of my robe and low-and-behold, my tablespoon was in the pocket! Don't ask, I have no idea why it was in there, but I was very happy 😉
Microplane Zester - Remember the story I told you about "zesting" a lime? Well, that never happens now that I have a wonderful microplane! Zesting has never been easier and if I'm putting lemon or lime juice in a recipe, you better believe I'm also going to zest it! With the microplane you can also finely grate garlic (etc.) too. I really recommend getting one!
Cutting Board - Yea, you need a good cutting board. Might I add, one that is not for raw meat or fish. I really don't have that problem, since I'm rarely cutting meat, and if I am, I do so in the foam package it came in. Anyway, have a nice veggie loved plastic cutting board. Wooden ones are nice and pretty, but bacteria hole-up in the pores of the wood and they never really get clean. I don't use any type of wood in my kitchen anyway for gluten, food-allergy safety reasons (since wood doesn't get clean).
Vegetable Peeler - I actually never peel most veggies unless it is essential to the recipe. My beets, potatoes, what have you, do not get peeled. I eat kiwi and mango skin. But there are some things that need peeling, like the yucca and for shaving a veggie like asparagus. Definitely a tool to have though since I know most people like to peel things more than me!
Citrus Squeezer - Along with the zester, a citrus squeezer changed my life! No more silly lemon seeds falling into the bowl. No more wasting half the juice when you just can squeeze anymore. This squeezer gets every last drop out! Amazing I tell you. (Also secret of the trade: always roll your citrus on the counter, applying pressure, before you cut and squeeze to make sure the juices are freely flowing.)
Mixing Bowls - A must! Many bowls of all sizes! Little bowls for mixing together spices, medium bowls for sauces, big bowls for salads and granola! If you think you don't need bowls, good mixing bowls, think again.
Krups Coffee & Spice Grinder - I originally got this for grinding my own coffee beans, but it is a wonderful device to have for grinding fresh whole spices! What a difference! The flavor and vibrancy you get from using whole spices is nothing compared to already ground. So if you are a huge spice (and coffee) lover like me, an easy electric grinder is really great to have!
Can Opener - At the moment every can opener we have just, well, sucks. I'm on a mission to find a good one that actually works more than one time! Not all cans have tabs on them and when I need to open a can of tuna, tomatoes, or beans, I want it to be easy! A good can opener is a must in the kitchen and good for safety reasons. You know people stock up on canned goods for when the apocalypse takes place. Well, if you don't have a quality, reliable can opener...you're screwed.
Swissmar Borner V-Slicer Plus Mandoline - I've had this mandoline for years and never used it. I didn't know how and when I first got it, was young and impatient (okay, I still am...but...). I needed to use it for a new recipe a few weeks ago. I needed precise cuts and shreds. Even though I butchered my hands trying to set it up (I didn't see the child safety lock), I'm glad I do now finally know how to use it! Precision slices, juliennes, grating, everything! It is so good!
Garbage Bowl - My girl Rachel Ray is the genius behind the garbage bowl idea. Now, I don't have her actual branded garbage bowl, but I do like to set aside a bowl or even plate to place all my garbage, scraps, unwanted peels in for easy clean up! If you don't like prep work because you think it's messy, use the garbage bowl method and clean up is seriously just a dump in the garbage! You all know I love easy prep!
A Big Spoon - Last thing. When mixing or scooping or just combining things together, I always opt for a big ole' spoon. Even for baking, when things call for a whisk, if I can get away with just a spoon, I do so. A good big spoon is perfect to have at the ready and can even go from prep to pot too. Less clean up to use your prep tools for the cooking portion as well 😉
One prep tool I don't have and really want is a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer! Then I could make my own marshmallows and maybe actually do some hardcore gluten-free baking experiments! Until then, I'm okay with what I have. Which also leaves me to note that this is only the first installment in another new series I think will be fun! Look out for more of my top kitchen tool posts to come! Think small appliances, baking, storing, etc! Don't think I left out my love for the doughnut pan or spiralizer! They just aren't prep tools and will fit other categories better 😉
So tell me:
+ What are your top 3 kitchen PREP tools?
+ Do you have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer? Any specific models you recommend? Discounts, maybe? Haha!
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