One of the perks of working for a Housewares company is that I always have the right equipment for any job in the kitchen. Need a scraper for a bowl – check, a turner for a flapjack – no problem, ream a lemon for lemon bars – you betcha. I think that people who don’t like to cook probably don’t have the right tools. It is like trying to cut hair without scissors or gardening without a trowel – you can do it but it’s a whole lot more work and not that much fun.If I were setting up a kitchen for someone who had never cooked before the list could be endless but at the end of the day there are 10 Essential Tools every kitchen/cook should have.
Spatula - A good silicone spatula is essential in the kitchen. It is a great tool for mixing/folding batters, awesome for stir frying, scraping a bowl, blender, food processor, etc. It is a kitchen WORKHORSE!
Scoop & Spread - this one took me a while to understand its worth but from the first time I used it I was a believer. The full size and the mini have equal value in my house. I have several of both sizes and this tool gets used EVERYDAY! It is the best tool for making scrambled eggs, period. Hard coconut oil in the jar - this is your go-to. Spreading anything - this is it. Getting the last bits out of a jar - look no further. It scrapes, scoops, spreads, serves, mixes, stirs, and is indispensable.
Mixing Bowls - you cannot underestimate the value of a good bowl. Our stainless steel mixing bowls are perfect bowls. They have straight sides which help when creating volume. They have flat bottoms for support but are not too flat. There is a ridge on the bottom of most bowls where flour or other matter tends to collect and ours minimize this ridge. The bowls have a great rounded area so scraping, mixing, or whisking is optimized. And they are beautiful to look at with the mix of polished and satin finished stainless steel.
Whisk - ok, this is where you realize that I am a super geek. I have a thing about whisks. There are SO many whisks in the market but so many of them shouldn't even be called whisks. Whisks should be balanced. Take your current whisk and hold your hand out flat. Put the handle on your palm - can you get it to stay in your hand or does the weight of the tines pull it over your hand? Balance is the weight of the handle and the weight of the tines being in perfect proportion to each other. When there is balance it makes the task easier. Your arm won't feel like it is going to fall off when you whisk egg whites or cream. Do the experiment yourself with our whisk and almost any whisk you have in your drawer - you will be amazed. Also, the shape of the tines of a whisk relate to the task they are to perform. A balloon shape is to create air as you whisk which will create volume. A French whisk is for all purpose mixing/beating tasks. The tines are more narrow so it doesn't create as much air - this is perfect for whisking egg yolks or mixing wet ingredients. I could literally spend days talking about whisks - but I will stop NOW.
Turner - Turners are one of those tools that end up being a personal preference. We make a great Silicone Slotted Turner that is a great all-purpose turner. We also make Nylon Flex Turners that are a combination of Nylon (super thin) mixed with Silicone with a stainless steel handle. This is great pancakes or something more delicate. There are also great very thin metal turners but they cannot be used on a non stick surface.
Chef's Knife - oh my - I don't know how anyone cooks without a good knife. Over the years, I have learned it isn't always about how expensive your knife is moreover it is how sharp and how the easy it is to sharpen. I have some very fancy German knives - they are lovely and very high quality but they are heavy. My go-to knife that I use everyday was under $20. Tovolo is launching a new line of knives this year and I am so excited because they are made of high-carbon steel and have a great, comfortable grip handle. As I get older, the grip/handle on tools is becoming so important. I love our 7" Chef's knife. It is BALANCED and easy to use. Also, I am super excited for our 5" Serrated Utility knife because it reminds me of a knife my grandmother had in her kitchen. Knives slice, dice, crush garlic, hull strawberries, seed tomatoes, pit avocados, and so much more. A good knife is a magic wand.
Tip Top Tongs - I just learned from Martha that tongs make great lemon juicers! They are awesome for tossing salads, tossing sauce on pasta, stirring sauteed veggies, flipping a steak on the grill, reaching a cereal box from the top shelf, and so on. Tongs = good!
Soak & Strain Colander - I don't drain everything into a colander but a use it everyday for fruits and vegetables. Tovolo's new Soak & Strain is my favorite. It is a tool and toy rolled into one. I dare you to put Brussels sprouts in it with a little water and not swing the inside colander back and forth. I find myself being like a toddler in the bathtub, filling it up, pouring out the water, filling it up again, turning it all the way over to pour out the water again...
Prep & Drain Cutting Mat - I am a purist by nature so I have lots of lovely and varied wooden cutting boards. We recently made a new kind of board we are calling Prep & Drain. It has a strange raised section which is the cutting surface with a "trough" around the outside. It is amazing! You cut whatever it is you are cutting and then just push it into the trough and go onto the next thing! Great for coring and slicing fruit. Awesome as a bar board! Making a soup and have to chop a ton of vegetables? This is perfect! You can even rinse items on one side of the board. This is made of PP so it can go in the dishwasher unlike my lovely wooden boards. Score a big one for the Prep & Drain!
Grater - Well, Tovolo doesn't have an in-line grater but every kitchen needs one. I really like Microplane graters because they are sharp and last forever! They are great for cheese, chocolate, spices, frozen butter (on popcorn), fruits, and so much more.
I was trying to be brief but I could have expounded WAY more on my love of each one of these crucial kitchen goodies!