The Real No-Gimmick Kitchen

A few days ago, I wrote about the kitchen stuff you absolutely positively should not buy for the people on your holiday gifting list. But what about the kitchen stuff that is timeless, useful, and will be appreciated for years to come?

Camp Chef 10-inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet - SK-10Lodge Skillet 12

All of my other pots (and even some of my pans) have been put into semi-permanent retirement since I got my sweet sweet cast iron skillet. It makes a great pancake and makes wonderful sauces…all without the risk of sticking. Plus, they look fabulous hanging up on the wall if you happen to have a country kitchen thing going on.

Well worth the space it takes up

When The Beard’s mother sent us a KitchenAid stand mixer, I have to say I groaned inwardly. These babies have a big countertop footprint. I’m more than willing to admit when I’m wrong, however, because we use this baby all the dang time. It really is worth the price and the counter space.

Nordic Ware Round Layer Cake Pan 9Nordic Ware Round Layer Cake Pan 9

Right now you may be thinking cake pans? Are you serious? Well I am serious. You’d be surprised how many people don’t have a couple of plain old round 9″ cake pans. Even if you’re loved ones can’t bake to save their lives, they can use round baking pans for all sorts of things, from reheating to whipping up smaller dishes.

Good for stirring, good for whacking stuff

Wooden spoons. ‘Nuff said.

Now you tell me: What kitchen stuff can you not live without?

17 Responses to “The Real No-Gimmick Kitchen”

  1. Sarah December 12, 2007 at 10:59 am #

    I agree about the stand mixer! Ours lives on top of the refrigerator, since our kitchen is beyond miniscule.

    The Cuisinart food processor is one thing I can’t possibly live without. Again, with the large coutertop footprint, so ours lives in the basement, but soooooo useful! Plus, they last so long! I think my mother’s may be even older than I am!

  2. Glinda December 12, 2007 at 3:09 pm #

    I’m thinking my saute pan with the lid that adjusts to let steam escape. I use it so much, I’m thinking of getting another one.

  3. Never teh Bride December 13, 2007 at 9:09 am #

    I’ll have to look into that, Glinda. I’m rather sick of having to balance lids precariously so as not to have anything bubble over onto my new stove…

  4. Kirsten December 13, 2007 at 2:09 pm #

    I would love a cast iron pan for Christmas. That and some Uggs :) I grew up eating eggs and bacon from my mom’s cast iron pan. I also know that if you’re anemic, you should invest in one–it can boost your iron blood levels!

  5. sterlingspider December 13, 2007 at 6:12 pm #

    I have a two cup hot water heater called a Hot Shot that I absolutely love. It paid for itself meeting my tea needs alone as sometimes I really just do not want to wait the four hours it always seems to take a stove-top teapot to heat up. Also super handy for cocoa, oatmeal, and instant coffee.

    Doubleplus bonus: sometimes for speed sake you want to start out with warm/hot water while cooking but don’t want to use tap water as it has a higher mineral content. Toss some cold water in the hot shot and if you wait about a minute suddenly there’s hot water for the cooking pot and dinner’s ready just that much faster.

    I also keep a Brita pitcher out 24-7. Besides the fact that I intensely dislike ice cold beverages, having neutral tasting room temperature water constantly available is always good cooking sense.

  6. Style Spy December 17, 2007 at 9:22 am #

    I adore my cast iron skillets (three in various sizes, plus a stove top griddle for the yummiest pancakes on the planet). My life-changing kitchen gadgets were a gift from a friend a few years ago — bright red Le Creuset silcone spatulas in an assortment of sizes & shapes. The slotted spoonula is almost all I use for stirring now. BRILLIANT, these things. My wooden spoons are ongoingly jealous.

  7. La Petite Acadienne December 17, 2007 at 9:24 am #

    Metal tongs from the dollar store. They’re perfect for the barbecue, for turning bacon in the pan, for flipping over anything that’s cooking in the oven — we own three sets, ’cause there’s always a set dirty from having been used in the previous meal.

    I also cannot live without good knives. Once you own and use one, you wonder how you ever managed without. I went home to visit and was helping Mom prepare supper, and realized that to chop carrots, all she had were three (chipped) paring knives, a bread knife, steak knives, and an electric carving knife. I put down the carrots, drove to the mall, and bought her a 8-inch Lagostina chef’s knife. She is now a convert, and wonders what she was thinking, chopping carrots with a paring knife and a turnip(!) with a steak knife.

    A cook without good knives is like a carpenter using his shoe as a hammer. He can still get the job done, but man…it could have gone so much easier and faster with the proper tool.

  8. Toby Wollin December 17, 2007 at 9:44 am #

    I’m not sure how I lived without these (well, actually I know how – with casseroles, baked beans, etc. ending up on the floor of the car), but I finally got several Pyrex(tm) baking dishes that come with their own snap on lids. I love these.
    I also own a huge Pyrex measuring “cup” (the thing holds about 10 cups so I don’t think I can call it that) which I use as a mixing bowl when in a pinch.
    The other thing that I could not live without and which last forever are: a really good set of knives, preferably ones you can actually sharpen. They make food prep a breeze.

  9. Lori December 17, 2007 at 10:56 am #

    Kitchen scissors.

  10. Jennifer L. December 17, 2007 at 12:11 pm #

    I bought a cast iron pot some time ago to boost my level of iron as I am borderline anemic. I have found that this pot is also handy as a home security device. I have never felt safer.

  11. angela December 17, 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    Good knives are a must and I adore my kitchenaid stand mixer. But I couldn’t live without my Le Creuset bakeware. You can use them for everything and nothing sticks to the enamel. Plus the colors are bright and fun. I love my cast iron skillet! My grandma gave me one of the many she has. Garage sales/flea markets are a great place to pick one up cheap. Yeah it can be kinda gross but you take them home and reseason (Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food has awesome tips for care and use of your cast iron) and it’s like new. Plus the older ones are often heavier then the newer ones. But don’t ever do what my cousin did to my sisters- put it in the dishwasher! Oy was that a mess.

  12. bobbie-sue December 17, 2007 at 12:50 pm #

    I can’t live without my immersion blender and 4-cup and 8-cup pyrex measuring cups. Used together, they’re great for pureeing soups. I also use the measuring cups instead of mixing bowls. They’re great for making sure you have enough apple slices for your pie filling, and for heating stock in the microwave for making soups or risotto.

  13. leeapeea December 18, 2007 at 1:58 pm #

    I don’t have space or budget for lots o’ things in my kitchen, so I am also a fan of the mult-use tool. I’ve found that Alton Brown (from Food Network) is a great proponent of this ideal as well. His books and show have lots of great suggestions, including using an unfinished tile from Home Depot as a pizza stone and creating a backyard smoke house from teracotta pots.

    I’m with Lori on the kitchen scissors. My roommate had a pair from her stint as a door-to-door knife salesgirl, and when she moved out she took them with her. Now I have to suffice with my craptastic all-purpose scissors, and let me tell you, they just can’t cut the cheese. Or butterfly the chicken.

  14. Tizzy December 19, 2007 at 12:04 pm #

    Good knives and a mixer. You have no idea how badly I want a kitchenaid stand mixer but I’ve found that my 20 dollar Hamilton Beach hand mixer can handle almost anything I ask of it.

  15. Christina December 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm #

    There are few things I would run out to buy immediately if they broke. Yes, the food processor (but I only use it when cooking big meals), and my cast iron pan w/lid*, and good knives.

    But the number one thing I could not live without is my Hamilton Beach Brewmaster coffee maker.

    *I love my cast iron skillet. It came with a cast iron lid, too. If you can believe it, I got it at a flea market for $15. It looked awful. But, some oil and some time in the oven and voila! Best skillet I’ve got. I’ve had it now for 12+ years and it keeps getting better and better.

  16. JaneC December 21, 2007 at 10:37 am #

    I got a set of ten glass mixing bowls about a month ago, and I’m wondering how I lived without them (I’ve only had two mixing bowls for the three years that I’ve had my own place). There’s an appropriately-sized bowl for every task, they’re really easy to get clean, can go in the microwave, and are pretty enough to serve double-duty as salad bowls.

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