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'If I Could Only Have 10 Essential Tools In My Kitchen, What Would I Choose?'

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This is a rebroadcast from July 19, 2019.

Lael - So Jenn, last week I was thinning out my kitchen cupboards.  They are full of stuff, but if I could only have 10 essential tools in my kitchen, what would I choose? It's kind of the desert island question, if you had a kitchen on the desert island.  Here they are, you tell me what you think.  I’m going to start at the end.

Jenn - Okay, working backwards.

Lael - Number 10 is a whisk.  I can’t do without a whisk.  There are just some recipes, mixing up the pancakes, mixing up the crepes, I have to have a whisk. 

Jenn - Do you use a whisk still?  I mean so many people have gone to machines.

Lael - Oh no, I’m old-school, in fact I have a whisk that has been shut in the drawer so many times, it looks like a middle-school sculpture. 

Jenn - *Laughs* All tangled...

Lael - But it still works great!  Number 9, this is kind of a dull one, but it’s a vegetable peeler.  I’ve just never been able to perfect, you know, cutting a carrot or peeling off an apple peel with any other tool. 

Jenn - It takes a steady hand, and I haven’t practiced it much because peelers are great!

Lael - Peelers are great, so get a vegetable peeler.  Number 8, my measuring tools really are fairly simple, I use one cup, a tablespoon and a teaspoon.  You can eyeball a half cup, you can eyeball a quarter cup - well I can.

Jenn - How many tablespoons in a quarter cup?... 

Lael - *Laughs* Maybe I do need a quarter cup. 

Jenn - No but I see what you’re saying, you don’t need as many of these other sizes, they just kind of get rolled around in the drawer and lost anyway. 

Lael - And just poll on your basic math skills

Jenn - Okay

Lael - Number 7, this is a little more frivolous but I love a good set of small bowls.  You know, just maybe three.  Use them for taco toppings, you use them to hold your peanuts or your sesame seeds to sprinkle on the top.

Jenn - At first I thought you’d have to sell me on it, maybe I’m getting closer because it feels again like a lot more to wash, but I do admit looking at a table spread with all of those colors of toppings and they are all in their own separate bowl, they just, it’s a beautiful thing.

Lael - It is fun.  Number 6, a big bowl.  I wouldn’t go with a small bowl any time.  It drives me crazy to see people put an amount of food into a small bowl and then try and stir it, and you always lose it.  So, big bowl.  Number 5, is a rubber spatula, and I think I mostly put that on there because I was denied that as a child. 

Jenn - Oh.  We need to cover this *laughs*.

Lael - *Laughs* My mom would use a wooden spoon to scrape out the cake batter, and it drove me crazy.  She just couldn’t get it all.  So, for psychological reasons, my number 5 is a rubber spatula that can really clean a bowl. 

Jenn - What a nice way to go back and revisit and repair some of these things from your childhood that every time you make brownies, you can scrape the bowl to your hearts delight. 

Lael - It is, right?  Number 4 is a cutting board, I like the kind that’s bendable, that you can just throw in the sink and the dishwasher and really clean.  Number 3 are my big pots and pans, just go ahead and get a cast iron pot. They work great for soups and stews, but then you can also use them, get them really hot, and use them for browning and brazing meat. 

Jenn - I have noticed that. Boy, it’s a good, crispy edge on some things, and is it easy to clean as your other pots and pans?

Lael - Oh no, it’s a big pain. *Laughs*

Jenn - *Laughs*, But it really does make a difference in a meal.  And some things are just worth it, is what you’re saying?

Lael - Some things are just worth it. But at least make it big.  If you don’t make it cast iron, at least make it big.  And then, that was number 3 and number 2, my big pot and my big pan, and then number 1, the most essential tool in any kitchen is a sharp chefs knife.  And I chose chefs knife because I’ve seen people try and cut things on the cutting board with a knife that doesn’t have an offset handle, and they end up wrapping their knuckles over and over.  And that’s long enough to handle things like watermelon or cutting through a cantaloupe, and you really can use it for pretty much everything.

Jenn - It really is versatile, you see people using smaller knives and it’s just limiting.  And I think like you said, the offset blade, I use that every day. 

Lael - Yep.  Okay, so those are the top 10, and if you’re not on a desert island, you could get a few more things, but think about these for the next time you’re filling up your cupboards.