Kitchen Basics

Generations ago, there was a time honored tradition of mothers preparing a Hope Chest, that was filled with blankets, dishes and all the essentials they needed to run a household, for each of their daughters.  While family structures and member roles have definitely changed over the years, the sentiment is there.  We want our kids to go off into the world prepared and here at Simply Ardynn we believe that there are basic tools every kitchen should have in order to work effectively.

So whether you are helping your kids or you are setting up your first home on your own, Simply Ardynn believes these tools are essential to creating food experiences that will form the foundations of many memories to come.

  • Glass Measuring cups in varying sizes.  Pyrex is best as they can handle Hot and Cold liquids as well as being dishwasher and microwave safe.
  • Set of heavy duty metal measuring cups.
  • Set of metal measuring spoons.  And you’ll notice I recommend metal, stainless steel whenever possible as plastic can promote bacteria growth.  They also don’t last as a lifetime like stainless steel.
  • Metal Biscuit cutters.  Don’t be cheap and get the ones that look like cookie cutters.  Biscuit cutters are much deeper and tend to be of a heavier gauge stainless steel that will survive the test of time.  A set of 3 varying sizes is all you will actually need.
  • Thick, wooden cutting board that is at least 1″ thick and 10″x15″s.  Made from a solid piece of hard wood is best.  With grooves on one side for catching juices when carving meat.  You want it to be a solid slab because boards that have multiple pieces glued together tend to  split!
  • Set of Pyrex baking dishes for pies, casseroles etc.
  • Set of Stainless Steel nesting bowls that are again, of a heavier gauge that have sturdy, flat bottoms so they won’t move around too much when in use.  An added bonus of a set is, that they match and fit inside each other for easy storage.
  • Double set of wooden spoons.   These are very inexpensive and can be used with any pot or pan without fear of scratching the finish.
  • A double boiler or stock pot.
  • Set of pots and pans that have heavy bottoms for even heating.
  • A set of 3 varying size Cast Iron Skillets.  These are heavy and easy to care for and will last a lifetime.  They are ideal for searing meats and can go from stove top to oven no problem.
  • A hand mixer with various attachments.
  • A stand mixer for breads and batters.
  • Set of good knives in a butcher block with a sharpener. Funny, when the kids were little I would sharpen the knife and say I needed a finger for dinner and they would squeal and run away laughing.
  • Set of 6 flatware for dinner.
  • Set of plain white dishes with service for 6.
  • A food blender with a glass vessel, the blenders that have a plastic vessel do not last.  They crack easily and do not handle hot liquids or foods well.  They also have to be hand washed as if you put them in the dishwasher, over time, the heat causes the plastic to start breaking down.
  • A good heavy, wooden rolling pin.
  • Set of 3-5 Silicone Spatulas that provide a flexible scraping surface while allowing you to stir contents of a hot pot with out fear of melting.  Any kitchen tool that does double duty is ideal.
  • Whisks – This is a debatable subject for sure when you ask the rubber versus stainless steel question.  Yes, rubber whisks are quieter to use and won’t scratch, but they can’t be chilled ahead of time for making things like whipped cream or stiff peaks in egg whites.  They also tend to be of a thicker spindle that allows lass air to be incorporated into your mixture.  So you spend more time whisking.  Which ever way you go, ensure that you have a small and a large whisk.  I am old school and I like doing everything by hand and using a machine as little as possible.  It relaxes me.
  • An Immersion Blender is a small, stick like blender that you stick directly into a pot or bowl to blend ingredients.  Works amazingly well for large pots of soup. They also cost under $20.  No more having to blend a few cups of stuff at a time.
  • 2 large, mixing bowl size measuring cups.  One made out of Pyrex or glass and the other made out of tempered plastic.
  • 2 metal colanders, one large and one small.  I recommend stainless steel because they will last.
  • A set of silicone pot holders that you can use to protect your counter or table.  They can handle extreme heat and also come in handy when mixing batters by hand.  If you place one under a mixing bowl it will keep it from turning or moving as you mix.
  • A set of 6 Storage Canisters of varying sizes for storing things like flour, sugars, corn starch, rice etc.  I recommend something heavy duty that will last.  Plastic can be ok if you buy the heavier, thicker plastic canisters.  It’s not something you want to have to replace every year or two.
  • A good 12 cup Coffee Pot.  Even if you don’t drink coffee, they are great for making hot tea and you never know when a guest may want coffee.  Make sure to buy a coffee pot that has a timer and automatically shuts off after a period of time.  You don’t have to spend much for a decent coffee pot, they can be found at any big box store for about $25.  Tip:  Coffee pots are actually one of the leading causes of kitchen fires.
  • A Toaster Oven is great for heating up left overs or making small amounts of things.    Why heat up the whole house by turning on the oven for something small?
  • A 4 Slot Toaster that can handle wide slices of bread, like New York Style Bagels.
  • A large set of Tupperware containers for storage.  I find that the average family can easily use up a set of 15-20 containers very quickly.  Just be sure to get a set the fits inside each other for convenient storage.
  • A good spoon rest for keeping on the stove.  This is where you set your utensils that are in current use as you cook.
  • A medium sized mortar and pestle.  This is ideal for grinding fresh spices, but also great for making pestos, garlic paste etc.
  • A good size bowl that you keep on the counter as you cook for garbage.  It saves an amazing amount of time if you have a bowl where you rewording so that as you cook you aren’t running to the garbage can a million times (Unless you are one of those fitness nuts that counts every step they take.  If that is the case then forget this suggestion) as you prepare you meal.

As I find new products or tools that are universally useful, they will get added to our Kitchen Basics section.  Occasionally you may even see an article or review of a specific product.  And remember, that the Simply Ardynn’s Kitchen Basics section is here to help you fill out your kitchen, cooking and entertaining needs.  Any product or tool that I come across that I find useful, but doesn’t necessarily need to be in the average kitchen, then I will let you know that it is an exception.

I tend to collect things for the kitchen and  butlers pantry.  I have been doing so for almost 25 years.  It’s my thing.  I must have close to 100 serving platters and bowls and close to a dozen full sets of china and everyday dining tableware.  I like to mix and match and never set the table the same way twice.  But again, that is me and our Kitchen Basics section will generally only list those tools and products that are necessary for a kitchen to work to the best of it’s abilities.

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