It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since we were remodeling our home and living with my in-laws, but time certainly does fly when you’re raising 3 crazy kids and running a business. I still look back fondly at those times and am grateful we had the opportunity to not only remodel our home, but we had people who love and care for us enough that they’d open up their home to us for 8 months. I for one can only hope to one day be as gracious with my own kids 😉

My in-laws are getting up there in age, so my mother-in-law doesn’t cook as much as she used to, and when she does cook, it’s usually pretty basic fare, and while we were living there I pretty much took over all the cooking duties. She has an extremely well-stocked kitchen, so I left the vast majority of my kitchen items packed up on our storage pod. I did however bring a small box of items she didn’t have but would make my days easier, like my Vitamix, steamer basket and spiralizer. But in today’s post, I don’t really want to talk about the gadgets that make our lives in the kitchen more exciting and flavorful; instead I’m going to talk about the few tools I use on a daily basis and if I had been hard pressed to narrow down and pack with me on my move to the in-laws, or on a deserted island, I’d include.The first thing we need to talk about is how important it is to have a great knife. For all the butcher blocks full of knives my mother-in-law has, every single one of her knives was dull and lousy. Some held a lot of sentimental value (one carving knife belonged to her dad, an avid cook famous for her roast chicken), but most were just in need of a good sharpening and maybe a couple should have just been tossed. All this to say, I used the one knife I brought with me and never found a need to use anything else. I use a Shun classic 7″ chef’s knife, which will run you just under $100, but I promise you this is the *only* knife you will ever need. Sure a bread knife and a small pairing knife are nice additions, but those can be picked up on the cheap at Target, with no real need for high quality since they have limited use. But a really good chef’s knife is imperative and has changed my cooking game. There are a lot of knife options out there and I’m not saying Shun is the only option you must get, but I chose this brand because it’s the one they use at our local cooking school, and I got a really good feel for it when taking a knife skills class years ago. It’s rather affordable as far as quality knives go (some can run you upwards of $300), and the chefs at the school all recommend it as a great option for home cooks. Even if you don’t go with Shun, based off of chef’s recommendation, do go with a 7″ size, as it’s small enough to easily handle, but big enough to get the job done efficiently. Next up is this little flat scraper thingy. I believe the technical term for this gadget is a scraper/chopper, as it can be used for scooping items up, scraping them off, and chopping them up 😉 I primarily use it for scooping chopped food up as you see, and quickly transporting them from the chopping board to a pan/bowl. I have seen waiters use them to scrape crumbs off tables and you can also use it for cutting soft items like raw bread dough and pastas (the edge has a ruler in 1 inch increments). You’re probably looking at this thing and wondering how on earth this could be a necessity, but believe me it has helped keep countless bits of food off my floors, usually lost in transport from the board to the pan when using only my hands. I seriously love this thing. Nothing truly original with the next two gadgets on my list; a garlic press and a Microplane, but just because they’re not novel or unusual, I couldn’t leave them off my list. Bottom line, there is a reason these two tools have been beloved members of the kitchen family for years; they are simple and rather small items which don’t take up much room, yet make 2 very tedious jobs, zesting and mincing, 100% easier.Yes, with a press I do notice that I lose a bit more of my garlic than if I mince it myself, but what it lacks in conservation, it certainly makes up for in efficiency and uniformity. And I can’t even imagine how zesting was even possible before the invention of a Microplane. What did people do in the old days, use a rough stone or God forbid, a cheese grater?!? I know I’m being silly, but if you can’t imagine the need for a Microplane in your kitchen, you’re the one being silly, not me 😉 Last up on my list is this double sided measuring spoon, that I have actually considered buying 2 of. I didn’t acquire this gadget until last year, so it technically wasn’t with me when we were living at my in-laws, but I didn’t want to let technicalities get in the way of completing this awesome list. So what makes this particular measuring spoon, which btw, is actually for coffee, so handy? Well, it has 2 common measurements, 1 and 2 tablespoons, which I use every day when I make my smoothies. Every smoothie I make calls for ingredients in either 1 or 2 tablespoon increments, and so this allows me to get out just one device for the job of smoothie making, and I love that I don’t dirty a whole set of measuring spoons for one job. All my spoons are attached to each other on a ring, as most are I’m sure, and so when I use the tablespoon to scoop out nut butters or oils, the other spoons inevitably get tainted with oil and I wind up having to wash the whole set, which seems silly. I know this feels like a very particular need, and maybe it is, but for me it’s perfect and gets used I also love the long handle that allows me to dip into deep jars of nut butters without getting my hand all messy 😉 Hey, minimizing messes in the morning is important! Bottom line, if you’re an avid smoothie maker, you will love this spoon.

So folks, that’s my list! What 5 items would be included in your can’t cook without, must have kitchen items? I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets, so share away!


Photography by: Miranda Stratford

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