Friday Five: Kitchen Must-Haves

I am just getting started with this gloriously long weekend, but I did want round out the week with another edition of Friday Five. On Wednesday of this week, Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker gave her list of 62 Pieces of Essential Kitchen Equipment, and I lovvved it. I really adore seeing how other people I admire stock their home, and it gives me something to aspire to. Plus, it makes filling out a wedding registry that much easier, if you’re into cooking but don’t know what to register for.

On the flip side of that topic, though, I’m sort of a young professional, recently engaged in a full time job. I know that it can be hard to pick through lists like this when you’re on a limited budget, and you don’t know what the bare essentials are. So my Friday Five are the five items I absolutely require in my kitchen, and use constantly. Some of these (knives and dutch ovens) will probably be updated to better versions one day, but most of them are killing it for right now.

Kitchen Must HAves

  1. Wusthof 8 inch Chef’s Knife. We registered for a block of knives for our wedding, and I would guess that we use every single one throughout the course of a week, plus the four santoku knives that I bought in college.  This knife, though, is my go-to knife for most tasks. It came insanely sharp, and I keep it that way by sharpening a few times a month. Beyond kitchen tasks, I would also choose it for home defense situations, if the need ever arose. So, clearly, a pretty valuable player in my kitchen.
  2. Lodge Cast Iron Skillets. Interestingly, this would also be one of my top kitchen picks in a self-defense situation :). All kidding aside, though, I can cook nearly anything in a cast iron skillet. Once it’s seasoned, it gets so non-stick that I can easily make eggs, I love it for baking corn bread and skillet cookies, and it’s the best tool for grilling veggies indoors. Though we have three sizes of cast iron in my kitchen, the 10 inch skillet is the one that lives on my stove and gets the most use, because it does everything.

  3. Enamel Coated Cast-Iron Dutch Oven. I know, I know- we are all supposed to aspire to the Le Creuset products, and maybe I do. But I’ve owned the Food Network version for 5 years in two sizes, and they have never done me wrong. Similar to my cask iron skillets, these dutch ovens to everything- they make soup and simmer red sauce, they roast chicken in the oven, the hold cobblers, they keep cheesey potatoes warm on a two hour drive to Thanksgiving dinner- pretty much kitchen rockstars. If I had only cast iron and dutch ovens in my kitchen, I could probably continue to cook 80% of things I make, easily.

  4. Pyrex Mixing Bowls. This set of bowls is insanely helpful in the kitchen. They’re mixing bowls in graduated sizes, which is nice, but they’re also clean and classic enough to serve from- this was a lifesaver for me when I held my first dinner party and didn’t have any white serving bowls, or casserole dishes. They also have lids, though, so dealing with leftovers can be super convenient. I love my vintage pyrex from my grandma, but this modern set is so handy, and inexpensive.
  5. Bamboo Utensil Set. I cook with pans in a variety of compositions, and I hate grabbing and metal spoon and not being able to use it, and plastic utensils that melt are terrifying (seriously, where does the plastic go as it melts? You know where…). So rather than deal with that, I have a mason jar beside my stove that holds a dozen bamboo utensils and I never have to worry about what material I’m working with. The spoons that I currently have are about two years old and still going strong. Even if I did need to replace them, though, the set linked above is $6…totally within the budget. I’m also thinking of joining the twitter bandwagon and painting the handles a fun color- we’ll see how that goes. In any case, these spoons are absolutely indispensable in my kitchen.

So, what did I miss? What’s in your kitchen that you can’t live without??