A few days ago, Martha and Me did a post on her top ten kitchen essentials. It inspired me. So here is mine, in no particular order, except in the case of the first item which will always be first in my (kitchen) heart. Seriously, we're talking true love's kiss here. (Watching a lot of princess movies in the Superhero household now...have an almost-four-year-old girl...)
1. Oh Kitchenaid, how I adore you. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got along without you. It feels like we've always known each other. Before I got this baby, I had a crappy little hand mixer. It sucked, yo. Even cookies were hard to make with it. I nearly wept as this beautiful red mixer effortlessly creamed sugar, brown sugar & unsalted butter for a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I have used it to make many, many things. Primarily bread, as I hate kneading by hand. Also frostings, muffins, mashed potatoes. Those are its primary functions.
2. An instant-read digital Taylor thermometer. For testing the temperature of water or milk while making bread. Yes I know REAL bakers can tell if water is too hot with their wrist or some such nonsense, but I have killed yeast with too hot of water. So I use this little number. (In case you're wondering, no I don't really use it for meats. I have a meat thermometer that has a "probe wire" and stays in the meat while it's cooking, then it beeps when it reaches my chosen temperature. I love it, but I rarely use it (don't make much of that kind of meat), so it didn't make the list. But you can get your own here.)
3. A small strainer. No link because I think I just got it at Target. I have a medium size one too, but this is the one I use again and again. I get dried onions from my church cannery, and this is the perfect size for straining them afterward. Also used when reconstituting dried minced garlic (see #7).
4. I think I've talked about this one before, but well, I love it. EK introduced me to the Roul'Pat Pastry mat. It's perfect for rolling out pie crusts, cookies, breads, etc. Anything you want to, you know, roll. Easy clean, too!
5. The Anolon Saucier Pan, which is on sale right now on Amazon for much less than I paid for it, which is quite irksome! This pan was quite an investment for me but is so worth it as I use it at least three times a week. That and my old nonstick pan was flaking off cancer-causing particles into our food! Yum! For nonstick, you should just fork out some dough, because otherwise you're going to have to buy a new one in a year.
6. Pyrex measuring cups. Here you see the 2-cup one, which is the one I use most often. I also have the 4-cup and 1-cup. The 2-cup is so versatile. The 1-cup is handy for smaller amounts. The 4-cup is good when you're making broth, or have to strain lots of liquid off something. Or when you're making macaroni and cheese and have to measure out 3 1/2 cups of whole milk. Or whatever.
7. No list of Anth's kitchen essentials would be complete without a respectful shout out to Penzey's spices. Since discovering them via a prize won at Bunko many years ago, I have seen the light and completely converted to the amazing spices produced by Penzey's.
True story: my s-i-l made curried chicken for the whole family over Christmas. As we were trapped in a small town in eastern Oregon, she had to make do with some cheap curry powder from Safeway's. It made Dh and I burp like anything. I have the same recipe (since I got it from her originally) and make it all the time. Dh said, "I never burp when you make curried chicken!" "That's because I use Penzey's curry powder," I replied. Experiment: made the curried chicken at home later, no burping. Moral of the story: use Penzey's. Some of my favorite Penzey's blends are Krakow Nights (good on sausage pasta dishes), Sandwich Sprinkle (I use it on my omelet burritos), and Cajun style seasoning (obvious, so I'm not going to tell you what I use it in!)
I also recommend that you throw away any spices in your cupboard that no longer smell right and/or that are older than one year.
8. Williams-Sonoma bread loaf pans. Yeah, they're kind of pricey for loaf pans, but you'll pretty much never have to buy bread loaf pans again. And if you make bread with any frequency, you'll thank me for this recommendation.
9. I think this might even be the pattern of Corelle bakeware that I own. I hate the pattern, but whatever, man! These are the best for a reason. Bake the casserole, cover it and stick it in the fridge. They last forever, can go in the dishwasher, etc etc. They were a wedding present eight years ago (woah I am getting old) and I use them a lot.
10. This chef's pan is the newest addition to my kitchen essentials list. I got this pan in February because I wanted a saute pan that was not nonstick. I use it to brown meat mostly. It's a lot lighter than my nonstick pan, so it's easier on my wrists. (Weak wrists, right here. And weak knees. And ankles...)
So that's my list of items I would really prefer to have with me always and always. What's yours?