Hey everyone, it’s Thomas, back to bring you today’s topic: our favorite and most-used kitchen items. If you know anything about me, you probably know that I’m a hardcore hobbyist. Like many hobbyists, I’m also a well-researched one–I spend hours researching before I make purchases, and in my mind, there’s no reason to not get the best bang for your budget when it comes to investing in hobbies. While a lot of my hobbies (like homebrewing, roasting my own coffee, and gardening) have had their moments in my life, one passion that has always stayed with me is cooking. From a young age, I have loved to cook, and asked for a new kitchen item at every gift-receiving opportunity. To me, cooking has a therapeutic effect. I slow down, focus, and do my best to put amazing food on the table. Even if my cooking is just for Julia and me, my hope is that this extra care makes the day of my dinners just a little bit better. As long as I have the time, I believe there’s no such thing as going overboard when preparing a meal with care. With that in mind, here’s a long list of our most-used items in our kitchen.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t the one who decided to purchase this toaster–for that, I have Julia to thank. If you’re going to have something sit on your counter all of the time, it might as well match your decor, right? As it turns out, it’s also a really good-quality toaster. We went with the four-toast option, and then bought another two-toast option in cream for our New York apartment. My favorite feature is the defrost feature, which can be triggered on when toasting frozen things. We love Ezekiel bread, which we keep in the freezer, so this setting comes in handy often.
Boos Cutting Board
Our cutting board might be the oldest thing in our kitchen. I bought it for myself when I was 19 years old, so I’ve had it for over 10 years now. It’s such a great cutting board–it’s just the right height, and it’s big enough so that I can cut on it while also keeping other prepped items on the board at the same time. It’s beautiful enough that it has a permanent place on our counter. To keep it looking and performing its best, I use the Boos Board Cream to bring some life back into it every few months.
Oxo Nonstick Skillet Pair
Oxo ranks high on my list of favorite home and kitchen brands. I don’t actually know much about the company itself, but when you use their products, you can tell that they are based on years of research and development. That’s why if I’m ever in doubt about buying a new kitchen or home product (and I don’t have hours to research), picking an Oxo product is a pretty safe bet. We use their cleaning brushes, high-heat spatulas, a sink strainer, a salad spinner, and the list goes on and on. The Oxo items I love the most though, and that are maybe the greatest value of anything that you can get in your kitchen, are these nonstick skillet pairs. Over the years, I’ve learned to not buy expensive nonstick cookware because over time, nonstick cookware gets scratched and doesn’t work quite as well. There’s no sense in spending over $100 on something you should probably replace every few years. This set is not only better than any nonstick skillet I’ve ever used, but together, they are also only $50.
It’s hard not to have heard of Vitamix blenders. While they carry a hefty price tag, I think they live up to their name and reputation. They are certainly the best blender I’ve ever used, and if you aren’t in a hurry to buy one, you can wait for sales. If you want to save even more money, you can purchase certified reconditioned Vitamix Blenders here. Their base model doesn’t have all of the auto settings, but still looks great. We upgraded our old one (that I’d had since college) for this white one when we moved back into our house.
Shun Knife Set
I’ll admit, I’m a bit over the top with my love for great knives. Having beautiful knives is something that we’ve been convinced that we need to have as chefs, but to me, the most important thing is that you take care of your knives. Whenever I take a peek into professional kitchens, I’m always astonished by how many use basic, but well taken care of, knives that maybe cost $25-$50 I find. These Shun knives (full set or 4 piece set) just so happened to pair better with our kitchen, but they are on the pricey side. If you are decor-minded too and are looking for a new knife set, consider this new brand we recently discovered called Material. Julia and I got the blush pink set for our NYC apartment.
One thing to note: with inexperienced home chefs, I’ve noticed that the number one thing holding them back from cooking more is their knife skills, which stem from being scared about their safety when cutting. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. You may not need new knives to make you a better chef, but if you haven’t shown your knives some love in a while, consider taking them in to get sharpened. A quick Google search should yield plenty of options for where to take them near you.
Ratio Coffee Maker
You’ve probably seen us go on and on about our Ratio Coffee Maker. You can read more about how we make coffee here, but in case you’re new, we love this coffee maker for its elegant design, automation, and the fact that it makes excellent pourover coffee. It’s one of our most used and favorite kitchen items ever, and it’s even a conversation starter when someone sees one for the first time. Also, we really love the neutral palette of these Le Creuset mugs, so much so that we have them in both Charleston and NYC.
Cast Iron Skillet – I’ll start off by admitting that I break all of the “rules” for cast iron skillets, but something about me can’t commit to not washing mine. I’ve heard stories of cast iron skillets that have been handed down as family heirlooms, so I understand taking care of those, but when I use cast iron, I’m just looking for a pan that can hold and distribute heat well. I also use mine on my grill and oven, where it handles high heats nicely. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money on cast iron, these Lodge skillets are great (here is a great starter kit). We fell in love with the look of our Smithey Cast Iron Skillet, which is actually a Charleston based company.
Before buying our current set of silverware, we were using a bamboo set. While the design looked great, it wasn’t the most practical. The bamboo pieces that we had were starting to mold, rot, and fall apart. We spent a surprisingly long time trying to pick out new silverware before settling on this classic style and shape, and we are so happy we did.
Amanda Lindroth Cups
When it comes to plates and glassware, it’s fun to switch it up with pops of color, but you can easily go overboard and find yourself with items that are no longer your taste later. We think these Amanda Lindroth glasses (available in multiple sizes) are so fun, but also practical. When you are ready to wash them, just slip the colorful basket sleeve off and place the glass in the dishwasher.
Straws- I prefer to sip smoothies and other thick drinks from a straw when I’m at home. I love these glass ones.
We use a lot of citrus when we cook and I love these citrus squeezers so much, they hardly spend time in the drawers where they belong. They are constantly going back and forth between usage and the dishwasher. We have one that’s made for lemons and one that’s made for limes, but you probably don’t have to get both sizes. Opt for the bigger lemon size and use it for both lemons and limes. You’ll save both money and space in your drawer.
Pyrex Measuring Cups and Prep Bowls – When I cook, I practice mise en place. What this means is that I prep all the ingredients before I actually begin cooking. This requires that I have enough prep bowls and containers to support this cooking style, so I use a big collection of glass mixing bowls and Pyrex measuring cups. One tip I love is to use a bigger bowl as a trash or compost bowl for scraps that I don’t want in the final meal, such as onion and garlic skins, fruit pits, and juiced citrus. I do this so that I don’t have to constantly run back and forth to the rubbish bin in the middle of cooking.