I am going to be severely downsizing my kitchen in the next few months. As a part of the process, I have set myself the task of deciding which ten kitchen utensils I consider essential for my cooking style. Why ten? I don’t have an arbitrary reason. The utensil collection may end up being 11 or 12 items at the end. What I wanted to do was start the process of deciding what tools I cannot live or cook without. I am not including knives, pots and pans, or appliances in this process because those are for other posts and other spaces in the new kitchen. This is just about the things that sit in the jar on my counter or in my drawer that I will take with me into the small kitchen.
1. Tongs. I must have my tongs. I own two sets and will only take one with me. So, I think I will take the longer ones. They are useful for turning meat over, grabbing things out of boiling water, and getting things out of tall cupboards so they need to come along.
2. Wooden scraper. I use this thing almost every time I cook in my cast iron (which is almost every time I cook). It’s great for getting those yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pan into whatever sauce I’m making. It’s gentle on the surface of my one non-stick skillet. I replace it every time it gets tired-looking so it is a necessary part of the permanent collection.
3. Wooden spoon. Not even optional. Stirring.
4. Ladle. I love making soup. I usually keep my freezer full of chicken stock so that I can make rich, thick, warm soups all winter and fresh, vegetable-y soups all spring and summer. You can’t have soup without a ladle to get that lovely broth into your bowl!
5. Serving spoon. Being able to scoop a sauce out of a pan and drizzle it gently over a steak or a pork chop is one of the joys of cooking! You need a large spoon to do it with.
6. Silicone scraper. I don’t like to waste food, so this is a necessity. I carefully measure and plan my recipes, so I need every morsel to make it into the final product. When dealing with sticky dough or batter (or marshmallow goo) it’s important to have a heavy-duty scraper to move that stuff around!
7. Slotted spoon. I make a lot of stock and this is helpful for getting the big chunks of bone and vegetables out of the stock before straining. It’s also good for getting bacon bits and sautéed mushrooms out of a pan so you can use the flavorful fat to sauté other lovely vegetables.
8. Can opener. I don’t eat a lot of stuff that comes out of a can. Except cranberry sauce. I do like a good turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with cranberry sauce. I make homemade for the holidays but do buy the little cans for the rest of the year. I also sometimes feed Snickers some canned pumpkin if he gets an upset tummy, so I guess the can opener will move into the little kitchen.
9. Whisk. I originally had something else on this list but when I went to take everything else out of the utensil jar I realized that I forgot the whisk! I had to take the zester off the list (it’ll go on another list because I can’t live without my zester)! It’s impossible to make a smooth sauce or roux without having a good, sturdy whisk. Scrambled eggs with a fork always end up with bits of white floating around and there’s no way to get egg whites fluffy with a fork.
10. Pastry brush. Adding a little spicy or sweet glaze to a piece of chicken as it roasts on the grill or in the oven is a good way to finish an otherwise boring piece of meat. While it can be done with a spoon, the more even coverage from a silicone brush makes for a more beautiful presentation.
This is the list of ten items that I am going to keep in my tiny kitchen. I will give more information about the tiny plan coming to fruition in the next few months, but this is the first step in the process. I am going to take everything except these ten items out of the kitchen for the next month and see how it goes with only these ten things. If it works, I’ll keep this list. If I need to add a few, I’ll keep you posted!