Hello my amazingly good looking readers! I got you, didn’t I? You’re totally going to read what I have to say now. Well if you don’t stay for my compliments, than at least stick around to read about these awesome products. Please? Still reading? Phew!
Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way let’s talk about products. Gadgets. Shit that can cost you a pretty penny OR is so cheap you find yourself with the banana slicer from Amazon that you’ll never use. We’ve all been guilty of buying useless crap, and we’ve all been hesitant to pull the plug on purchasing a product that is actually worth every expensive penny but the prospect of spending a small car payment on something is, quite frankly, frightening.
Before I get to the business of recommending the products I think are worth the investment, big and small, let me give you the lay of the land in my kitchen. My kitchen is small. Scratch that. My house is small. I bought my home when I was 24, single, and didn’t need much room. It has a big backyard which is perfect for my black lab, and I decided that I would rather spend money on travel and food than a massive mortgage payment that would leave me living paycheck-to-paycheck. Now in my early 30s and with no kiddos, I still don’t require a lot of space, I still prefer to spend my money on travel and food, but oh what I wouldn’t give for a bigger kitchen. But we make due with what we have, and what I have is room for only things that I actually use in my kitchen. Counter space is prime real estate and I refuse to clutter it up with an orange slicer when I only eat oranges maybe once a year (that was $3 I’ll never get back. sigh.).
Trust me when I tell you that these products are worth it; they will save you time and earn every inch of counter and cupboard space that they demand:
Preps by Progressive Onion Chopper – Oh onions, how I love thee. From the flavor they bring to dishes when cooked, to the many different varieties (if you’re not using shallots DO IT NOW), onions pack an amazing punch when added to your food. They can also make you cry. In a nutshell, onions posses a chemical irritant that stimulates your gland that produces tears. For me it’s not just a few tears, but an ugly cry. Mascara running down the face, nose running like a 5-year-old, you’d think my dog just died, cry. If that alone isn’t enough to make you think that an onion chopper might change your life, than let’s talk about how perfect your onions are when you dice them. Oh they’re not perfect? Well then, spend $17, get your free 2-day shipping, and treat yo’ self to this little gadget. It’ll save you time and tears!
Spiralizer and The Inspiralizer – Vegetable noodles. They’re taking over the world I tell you. You’ve probably seen them at some point and thought that they look good (or at least interesting), and you’re intrigued. ‘But how do you make them?!’, you ask yourself. Easy. With a spiralizer. And you’ll be happy to hear that they’re affordable! I mean, be honest with yourself, you’ve probably spent $30-$50 on way more useless crap.Here’s the other thing you have to know – you can sprialize SO. MANY. THINGS. Like broccoli stems. Did you know you could do anything with those things other than throw them away? Me neither. And they actually taste really good cooked up. Seriously! And if I’m not selling you on broccoli stems, than try your hand at any of other spiralize-able fruits and vegetables – zucchini, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, onions, cabbage…and that’s just the short list.I recommend two different products.
First, the Paderno Spiralizer. This is the spiralizer I started with and it was great! Blades for three different types of noodles, easy-to-store, and allows you to quickly make noodles.
The second product I recommend is The Inspiralizer, brought to you buy my go-to spiralizing food blogger, Ali, over at Inspiralized. After almost two years of spiralizing I decided to upgrade from the Paderno spiralizer to Ali’s product. The improvements are subtle, but worth it. Having used the Parderno brand herself, Ali took of those little improvements that needed to be made, and she made them. Instead of individual blades that are taken out and put in, all of the blades live on the unit itself, changed by the quick crank of a handle. The Inspiralizer secures down to a countertop better, allowing for easier spiralizing of those tough vegetables like butternut squash.
Oh, and you’re going to want a brush to clean all of those little nooks and crannies, and there isn’t a better brush than an OXO round brush:
Cuisinart Food Processor – Here’s where I get to the part of telling you that it’s okay to spend a little money. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and purchase a little bit of quality, and a food processor is a product that is worth it. I would challenge you to find a cook who disagrees. A food processor is a multi-tasking kitchen tool. MULTI-TASKING. Need to puree a soup or sauce? Food processor. Chop nuts? Food processor. Shred cheese? Food processor. Make a salsa, pesto or dip? Food processor. Want to make your own dough? Food processor. Okay, I’ve never actually made my own dough but word on the street is that your food processor is going to get the job done. I don’t even own a blender anymore. Your food processor is going to slice, dice, puree, and chop about anything you need in no time flat.
Global Chef’s Knife – I didn’t even realize that I needed a chef’s knife until approximately 5 months ago. I was reading one of Anthony Bourdain’s books and I pretty much consider anything he says to be The Word, so when he said ‘Get a chef’s knife!’ I knew I would be doing just that. But all jokes aside, GOOD knives are something that are worth investing in. Cutting with a dull or low quality knife is painful, and can be enough to frustrate any level of cook in the kitchen. When I say ‘investing’, I don’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars though. Just having one good chef’s knife can mean that cutting a butternut squash is just like cutting butter, and starting your knife collection with just one good knife is a fantastic start. A versatile knife that can cut anything you need. Worry about other knives if or when you get further down your cooking path need more specific knives.
I am going to recommend the knife brand that Anthony Bourdain recommended in his book, and now I personally recommend it as well – Global. A good brand that is affordable to the home cook. This 7″ knife is under $100 on Amazon (Amazon, the gift that keeps on giving).
And if you spend the money investing in a good knife, than you’re going to want to keep it sharp. You wouldn’t buy a car and not change the oil, so you should follow the same practice in taking care of your investment. A friend of mine recommended a sharpening rod over an actual sharpener; a sharpener will slowly strip your knife; taking off a layer of steel each time to create a new sharp edge. A sharpening rod will actually straighten your knife out from minuscule bends that happen after continuous slicing and dicing and will not strip the steel on your knife. And if that wasn’t reason enough, sharpening rods are cheap. This is the sharpener I have and it costs a whole $8.93:
Cast Iron Skillet – Once upon a time I had TWELVE skillets. Twelve. Cheap sets purchased when I was in college and needed to be able to cook eggs; skillets that had stayed with me way past their expiration date and were constantly a pain the ass to clean. And as with all lessons eventually learned, I came to realize that good pans and skillets were like knives; you don’t need as many if you buy the quality ones. But much cheaper than knives. To start, you want to make sure that your skillets are oven-safe and non-stick. Maybe it’s the fact that dishes have always been the one chore that I despise, but there is NOTHING worse to me than scrapping off food caked on the bottom of a skillet/pan/plate/anything in the kitchen. And while I do accept the fact that sometimes it happens, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you set yourself up for failure in the beginning buying a cheaper skillet that your food is going to stick to.
So, if you’re like me and your money tree still isn’t quite sprouting $100’s yet, you need a realistic and affordable place to start. And that place is a cast iron skillet. Seriously, these are affordable. This 12″ cast iron skillet from Calphalon is only $34. A little bit more than you’re $19.99 set of 8 skillets? Yes. Breaking the bank? No.
Cast iron skillets aren’t coated with synthetic materials, which allow you cook with less oil for healthier meals. They also are completely non-stick, and they’re made for the stovetop or the oven. Want to caramelize the cheese on that meal you just cooked in your cast iron skillet? Sure thing! Throw it in the oven under your broiler. Easy. A versatile product at an affordable cost.
Cutting board – This is one item that I won’t tell you is a necessity, but more of a nice-to-have. A quality cutting board. Big and durable; something you won’t even need to make space for because you’ll use it often enough it doesn’t even need to come off of your countertop. I received this John Boos Walnut Cutting Board for Christmas and haven’t looked back. In fact, I even have saved myself precious cupboard space by being able to get rid of some random cutting boards I’ve had lying around since the stone ages (aka my college years) with those cheap skillets I told you about.
This is where I leave you for now, dear readers. These are the products that I whole-heartedly stand by as being quality and necessary products to improve your cooking and experience in the kitchen. If you have products you recommend I’d love to hear about them! Leave me a comment below and share your favorite cooking products!
**Disclaimer: All product recommendations are my own personal opinions and not endorsed advertisements.**