With all the unpacking and organizing I've been doing of late, I've been thinking a lot about what items are essential and what things I don't really need. The kitchen was the first room in the house that was unpacked. Both because it was a high priority and because it's easy (there are already drawers and cupboards!). But nevertheless, there's still room to spare in my kitchen. I have a few empty drawers, and my pantry has some holes. When it comes to kitchen items, you don't need too many things, you just need the right things. (Whoever decided the engaged should register for SETS of pots and pans or knives was an IDIOT. No one needs both an 8" and a 7" chef's knife. That's just silly.) When I'm cooking I often grab the same items. These "must have" items are different for everyone depending on their cooking style, but below are the things I just couldn't get by without in the kitchen. Some of them I insist on. Others are optional. What can't you live without? 1. Citrus reamer I didn't have one of these until last Christmas. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I had one of those squeezy do-dads, but it just wasn't doing the job. The reamer is where it's at. If you like citrus juice, it's a must have. I was gifted a second reamer and passed it along to a friend who was also reamer-less. She just texted me the other day to tell me how it's changed her life. It'll change yours too.
2. Le Creuset French Oven I was lucky enough to recieve this as a wedding gift. It's one of those things that people often register for that is spot-on. Every cook needs one but most people won't buy it for themselves. I'm a big fan of one-pot meals, so the Le Creuset is great for those. I have the 5.5 quart one, and it's perfect for meals for 2-4 people. If you have a larger crowd to feed, you might want a bigger one.
3. Electric Wok My proclivity for cooking started in China. I took a one-on-one cooking class with a chef in Harbin when I was a junior in college studying abroad. In China, they have special burners that accomodate woks with round bottoms. Most of us don't have those in the U.S., so we're left with flat-bottomed woks, which just don't do the trick. When you're making Chinese food, you need that rounded bottom for the oil to pool. An electric wok takes up a lot of room in your cupboard, but it's completely worth it if you make a lot of Asian food. And it heats up so quickly. And so hot! The one I have is Breville, but there are several cheaper options on the market.
4. Oxo mini chopper You and I both can chop garlic. But sometimes you just don't wanna. You want to have the mini chopper to it for you. And you want to get out the day's stress by banging on the chopper.
5. WMF Manaos Bistro Flatware I registered for the WORST dinnerware. I hate it. It's from Pottery Barn and it chips and is oversized and is all the wrong colors and I can't stand it. But. I registered for THE BEST flatware. I love it. It's fantastic. It's held up incredibly well and feels prefect in your hand. It isn't back heavy, so it doesn't fall off your plate. And it has tons of great serving utensils you can buy. It's so great, in fact, that the kind friends who bought it for us for our wedding decided to buy a 2nd set for themselves. Yep. True story. So if you're in need of new flatware, get yourself some WMF. You won't be sorry. But do not no matter what buy plates from Pottery Barn. Seriously. Don't.
6. Wüsthof Classic 4.5" Santoku Knife This is my favorite knife. I use it for everything. It's big enough for chopping but small enough for minimal paring. Think about what your perfect knife might be, and get one. But whatever you do, DO NOT buy I knife set. You won't use all those knives.
7. Wooden spoon An obvious classic. A wooden spoon is perfect for stirring all sorts of foods, and won't hurt your non-stick surfaces.
8. Oxo high heat spatula My old spatula warped from heat. This one hasn't. It's great for all your spatula needs.
9. Anthropologie measuring cups I have a set of measuring cups from Anthropologie that were a total splurge. I eyed them for at least a year before finally buying them. And I'm so glad I did. They're shaped like mugs with little handles, and I use them for everything. They're great for measuring (obviously) as well as just general prep bowls. And they're so pretty, they make me happy while cooking.
10. Scanpan Professional 10" Nonstick Pan I invested in this as my new nonstick pan a few years ago, and have been totally pleased. It's superbly nonstick, and so easy to clean. I use it all the time. Especially for breakfast. Eggs! Pancakes! Yum!