I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I love to cook. I’ve been in the kitchen for as long as I can remember doing everything from making cookies to helping with big meals. I have a well documented love of all things put together by Chef Gordon Ramsey, and a less documented love of the entire PBS Saturday cooking show line-up. As a teenager I went to cooking camp for three summers in a row and I had such a blast. We would get there at 9am and cook all morning, then have a late lunch of everything we made that day. Heaven.
Since I have a background in it, I’m always amazed when people don’t know how to cook, and I just want to tell them how awesome it is to cook your own food. Not only is cooking fun, but it is also be educational. By cooking ethnic foods you can learn about different cultures, in baking you learn about exact measurements and the science of leavening agents, if you cook with friends or family you learn how to work with others to make something delicious.
To start you off, today I’m going to share a list of basic tools that you can then use to create millions of dishes. I am barely even scratching the surface of kitchen tools, but if you don’t have these guys you’ll be done before you can start.
- Spoons. Can be wood, plastic, or metal. Wood is the best, but plastic is much cheaper. Metal can ruin your pots and pans, so be careful.
- Spatula. Plastic or metal. Different materials are for different purposes, if you do more cooking get plastic (see above note on metal). If you do more baking (more on that in a future post) get metal.
- Chef Knife. I have so much to say about knives, but I’m trying to save it for a future post. For now I’ll say that a chef knife is really the only knife you need in the kitchen.
- Knife guard. These come in plastic or magnetic material and can save you from slicing your finger when sifting through drawers looking for things.
- Bottle opener. Obviously.
- Paring Knife. I know I said you ONLY need the chefs knife. You don’t NEED a paring knife, but cutting fruit and other small, soft things is much easier with one. Be sure you have a knife guard for this one too.
- Scissors. Sometimes it’s just easier to cut things with scissors. Don’t use regular scissors in the kitchen, get kitchen scissors and use them only in the kitchen.
- Grater. I like the three way kind I have with bigger grates for softer cheese, smaller grates for harder cheese and a slicer, but if you want to get just one kind I’d lean one with bigger grates.
- Can opener. This one opens cans two ways and bottles as well.
- Tongs. These will be your best friend. I like the kind with plastic or rubber grips because, as previously mentioned, metal can seriously mess up your pans. Am I mentioning that too much? Maybe, but it’s true.
- Pot. A 3 quart pot will get you through most things, a cover can come in handy. If you make homemade soup it may be worth it to invest in a stock pot.
- Frying pan. Get a non-stick frying pan, and don’t put it through the dishwasher. Even if it is dishwasher safe, hand washing will make it last longer. Again a cover can come in handy, but I don’t use one as much for the frying pan.
- Mixing bowls. Metal, glass, or plastic, take your pick. Metal and plastic are more durable, plastic and glass can be microwaved, and plastic will be cheapest (again). It is possible to cook with only one size mixing bowl, but it would behoove you to own multiple sizes.
- Colander/Strainer. For straining pasta or veggies, colanders are magic. Strainers are a bit more difficult to use, but once you get the hang of it they are especially adept if whatever you are strainer will need to stay in the pot. Bonus: steam facial.
Not pictured: pot holders/oven mitts (to save your hands from burning), cutting board (to save your counter tops), and an apron (to save your clothes). And a million other little gadgets that are helpful, but maybe not quite necessary.
A word on quality. As with most things in life you will get the most out of quality tools. They will last the longest and serve you the best. That being said, half of the things in the top picture are from thrift stores or the grocery store and they’ve served me just fine. You have my permission to buy neon colored knives from some random aisle of Target (not that you needed my permission, but now you have it anyway).
I’m really excited to be writing this series and sharing my love of cooking with you all. In future posts I’ll be talking about baking tools, knife skills, and appliances, and many more things. What would you like to hear about? What are your favorite things to cook?