Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Tools

Here are the top 5 kitchen tools I love, use and recommend.

This survey comes from my observations of my behavior. Not from a survey company or Family Feud.

[Insert drum roll here]

KitchenAid Mixer

My green workhorse; nearly 20 years old

5 K Bowl lift model-it is old but works like a charm.

Mine is British Racing Green. I also have an Artisan model, 5K, in Copper.

I don’t like the copper as much as the green ‘bowl lift’ model. The copper is prettier than it is useful. Although I have run it through its paces, the heavy-duty mixer just out performs the Artisan model. In my opinion, the tilt head on the Artisan is problematic due to the attachment pin that holds the head of the mixer to the machine stand. When kneading bread or whipping meringue, the pin wiggles loose. If that were to happen, the entire head can fall off the stand. Oops.

Unfortunately, the really fun colors are all Artisan models (tilt-head). Bowl lift models also have some fun colors, just not as trendy. I would like a pink one to use when I shoot my TV shows.

The pin that works loose on the Artisan is the main reason I prefer the bowl lift model. Another reason is the green machine was a gift to myself when I graduated culinary school. It has been like a sous chef to me throughout my career. I love that working monster!  We used the green mixer in my restaurant, and in my home for almost 20 years now.

This machine works wonders.

By the way, if purchasing, look for ‘gift with purchase’ offers. There are a lot of attachments you can buy to do all kinds of things.

Look for the:

  • Grinder/ shredder
  • Sausage stuffer
  • Ice Cream Maker (uh huh!)
  • Pasta Roller
  • by now a baby food maker too.

If you watch out for sales, you can get some great bargains on the attachments. Some require a mail in form so always save your UPC symbols (with the name of the product) and receipts.

Stainless All Clad Cookware

 Quality cookware lasts a lifetime. With less scorching and less burning, quality cookware let’s you cook better. It is a fact.

The most used pots and pans at home are a 10″ saute pan and various sauce pots.

Invest in high quality cookware, even if it is one pot at a time.

My all time favorite vote goes to the all stainless line from All Clad.

Forget the black line they make, while good, the black turns chalky white if you put them in a high temp dishwasher.

Waiting for polishing

Pots and pans should be washed by hand anyway, but it would be nice to have the pot come out of the dishwasher looking nice and new rather than having lost all the color.

 Once you invest in your pots and pans,  take care of them properly.

Unless you really like to polish stuff, do not buy copper pots. Pretty but not practical. Even pretty pots will need a polish every now and then.

I scrub my stainless pots and pans with Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend each time I use them. It keeps them looking like new.

Mircoplane Graters

Microplane Graters

Buy several with different blade styles. Make sure you get and use the covers so you don’t  grate your fingers while rummaging through a drawer.

Check out the entire line and choose your favorite. There are several styles. Buy one of each. Give them as gifts – each will cost less than $20.00.

Use them for grating chocolate, cheese, zesting citrus fruits, nutmeg, spices, vegetables, garlic, shallots – as you can see the various blades provide many different options-from fine to ribbons. Very nice.

Good Sharp Knives

Kitchen Knives

I like different brands of knives for different tasks. Buy a good 10″ chef knife, a couple of paring knives (don’t spend over $15.00 for a paring knife, it is not necessary)and a stiff boning knife, not a flexible one.

While I own what seems like hundreds of knives, these are the ones I use the most.

Buy what fits your hand best. “Try” them out at cutlery retailers, ask the sales rep about the make, fit, shape, balance etc. Research before you buy as you will discover, or already know, knives are expensive.

One tip for buying a good knife: Buy high carbon/stainless steel blades.

Here is the run down on blade materials:

  • High carbon on its own will rust and turn black when cutting an onion
    • On the pro side, it is very easy to sharpen and hone and it holds an edge.
  • Stainless on its own, is sharp initially and will stay sharp for a while.

When it gets older, the blade dulls and because the stainless steel is so hard; it is impossible to sharpen it.

    • Don’t buy used stainless steel knives as they are probably dull.
  • High Carbon/Stainless steel blade combine the pros of each – easy to sharpen and holds an edge well. It does not discolor when cutting onions.

I will do another post about buying and choosing knives soon.

You do not have to buy an entire set!

Start with one you can afford and build. You may find you prefer different brands for different styles of knives and different tasks. For instance, I prefer Global for the chef’s knife but prefer a Henckels

Photograph of a Henckels three-star boning kni...

Image via Wikipedia Henckels Boning knife

boning knife and always buy and use Victornox paring knives. The stainless/carbon chef knife in the photo, next to the Global, is Sabatier- this knife is fun, well-balanced and  forged from a single piece of steel.

It is a true pleasure to work with a really good knife. It is one of my favorite things.

Learn basic knife skills and learn how to keep your knife sharp. You should have them professionally sharpened once a year; hone them nearly every time you pick up the knife.

Honing does not actually sharpen the knife but re-aligns the edge so the edge stays sharp and centered. You should learn how to do this safely at your knife skills class.

You do know never catch a falling knife, right?

You can replace a $300 dollar knife but you cannot re-grow fingers. Jump out-of-the-way and be grateful that it gets you in the wallet.

Bowl or Bench Scrapers and Silicone Spatulas

Have you ever been cooking something, like scrambled eggs, and notice the end of your spatula has gone down to a nub? Hum.

Ever wonder what happened to it?

Well, it has melted into the food you have been cooking. Maybe it did not melt all at once, but over time it did. Yum, what a thought.

Various Scrapers

But no more! Now you can choose silicone spatulas and get rid of non-heat resistant spatulas once and for all.

These are inexpensive and are very handy. Use the scrapers to pick up cut items from your cutting board, scrape up dough or

Spatulas and Scrapers

flour, scrape a bowl clean. Keep your eyes out for them, pick one or two up when you see them.

The silicone spatulas are heat-resistant. Silicone spatulas are the only ones allowed in my kitchens. No more melted spatulas. You can use silicone spatulas both on and off the heat.

Silicone spatula’s come in great colors, some with designs in them and that also makes them quite fun.

Bowl scrapers have a never-ending list of things they are useful for. Pick some up and see how many times you reach for them.

There you have it; my top 5 kitchen things. Can I add tongs too?

What are yours?

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9 thoughts on “Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Tools

  1. Chef Pamela,

    Although I’m neither a chef nor cook, when I read your blog and see your TV shows, it makes me want to become a chef or good cook! Thank you. These are great, especially articles that list your “favorite things”.

    June

    • Thanks June. I hope the list can help people figure out how to outfit their kitchens without buying every new gadget that comes on the market.
      Thanks for reading my blog, I appreciate your feedback.

    • Good tools make all the difference. The nice thing is you don’t have to buy everything at once. A piece here, a piece there and before you know it, you’ve got a treasure trove of great cooking things that are so much fun to use.

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