Food is something I've always enjoyed, and cooking is often the best way to get the food that you want. As I've widened my experience with cooking, I've gradually obtained some kitchen items that are "must-haves" for me, and I tend to reach for these items often. I have no particular expertise other than interest, but perhaps you'll find something in this list that would help you or make a great gift, and I try to take cost and value into consideration. I'll update this article as new items reach the qualifications above.
• Cuisinart ICE-211.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker
I'm an avid fan of homemade ice cream; so much better than commercial or even most of what you'll find at ice cream parlors! Many of the ice cream themed cookbooks give recipes sized for the 1.5 quart ice cream makers that don't need ice or salt, and while I've had and used the larger old fashioned makers, the convenience of the no ice models means you'll most likely use it more often.
I've been using the standard Cuisinart model for quite a few years now, and have given a number as wedding gifts.
Price at publishing: $47.97
• OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer
America's Test Kitchen chose this as one of their suggested slicers, and I've been very pleased with mine, particularly with the value. Slicing vegetables thinly and consistently is quite easy, and thicknesses can range from 1/16th to 1/4th of an inch.
This is quite sharp, so be certain to use the enclosed food holder.
Price at publishing: $39.95
• EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale
As your baking experience grows you'll most likely run into an increasing number of recipes that rely on the accuracy of weight measurement, and a small but reliable scale will become useful. This scale fits the bill and measures in ounces, pounds, grams and kilograms, and easily tares to account for the plate or bowl used to hold the ingredient.
Price at publishing: $19.95
• Ateco 690 Pastry Cloth & Rolling Pin Cover
And speaking of baking, why fight dough moving or sticking as you attempt to work with it? This inexpensive cloth, at 25 x 20 inches, solves the problem for you. Place it on any flat surface and you have a new work area.
Price at publishing: $7.49
• Bodum Brazil 8-Cup French Press Coffee Maker
After all of those homemade baked goods, you'll want some great home-brewed coffee. Unless you're making it for a bunch of guests, now with a french press for great results.
Price at publishing: $19.99
• Oster 18-Quart Roaster Oven with Buffet Server
With limited kitchen space, having items that serve more than one purpose is a necessity. You'll use this roaster for pork loins, chickens and roasts, but you'll also see how handy it as a three tub buffet server to keep foods warm and safe for guests. Fill the roaster with water a half hour before serving and easily control the food temperature throughout your meal, or keep food out a bit longer safely.
Price at publishing: $51.04
• Lodge Seasoned 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
The most-used item on our stove and in the oven is the legendary cast iron pan. I have two 12 pans handy and often in use. Versatile and easy to clean.
Price at publishing: $31.89
• Norpro Frozen Ice Pop Maker
After a great meal comes dessert, and popsicles are a great choice; homemade are even better.
Price at publishing: $9.51
• OXO Good Grips Fish Turner
The ability to get under food and flip it seems so simplistic, yet so few designs do it well. With the delicacy of fish, another twist is thrown in. This turner will work for many dishes you'll make.
Price at publishing: $12.95
One of the best investments in the kitchen are quality knives, but the costs can seem astonishing. Are there better knifes available if you have the money? Probably, but listed below are the knives I've found to be the best value for the cost, from the large chef's knife to the steak knife at the table.
Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife
Price at publishing: $44.95
Victorinox 125th Anniversary 4 ½ Inch Tomato/Bagel Knife
This knife is currently not available, but appears to be similar to the Victorinox 4 ½ Inch Utility Knife
Price at publishing: $10.49
Victorinox Cutlery 3-Piece Paring Knife Set
Price at publishing: $18.31
Chicago Cutlery 4-Piece Tradition Steak Knife Set
Price at publishing: $21.71
And my favorite item is...
• StarPack Premium Silicone Spoon/Spatula Spoon
There is a bit of a price range for the items above, but my favorite kitchen item is one of the cheapest. The silicone is stiff enough for serious stirring, yet flexible at the edges to scrape the pot without scratching. Perfect size and weight; this is the first item to buy.
Price at publishing: $7.49
Hopefully you'll find something here to help in your kitchen or as a gift; I'll update the list as necessary to keep my favorites where you can find them.
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