If you’re anything like me, you go through phases of loving to be in the kitchen creating delicious meals and only wanting to deal with frozen meals and take-out. For both of those times, it’s essential to have kitchen tools that make cooking easy and enjoyable – no one wants to hate being in the kitchen! Here are some of the items I love having around when I’m cooking up a storm or making a quick, simple dish.
1. Pressure cooker. There is no better tool out there for the vegan who values convenience! Pressure cookers are the perfect “set it and forget it” gadget to cook up huge (and freezable) batches of beans and grains. Stir fry and chili for DAYS, you guys. If you own a pressure cooker (or will soon), I cannot recommend JL Field’s cookbook, Vegan Pressure Cooking, highly enough. Risottos, soups, pilafs, tender vegetables… it’s a must-have for healthy, winter comfort foods.
2. Garlic press. This one is a life-changer. When it comes to peeling, mincing, and cleaning up after garlic cloves… just no, thanks. With a garlic press, all you have to do is whack the clove with the side of a knife, peel away most of the papery layer, and plop ’em in the press. Boom. You are cooking with fresh garlic without putting your fingertips at risk of being sliced off. This one from Pampered Chef is a dream, and it even includes a plastic piece to push through the pulp for easy cleaning.
3. Extra-large cutting board. I have to admit, I wasn’t sold on the extra-large cutting board, at first… When my significant other and I moved in together I had mentally tagged his giant kitchen tool for eventual donation. Yet, as time went on, I found it was perfect for slicing up homemade pizzas, kneading seitan, and chopping up copious amounts of vegetables for roasting or throwing into a soup. Needless to say, the cutting board has a permanent spot in our pantry.
4. Salad spinner. Cooking with greens is something I needed some serious catch-up on as I branched out into independent living. The process of cleaning, chopping, and drying them, though… jeez. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. When I lucked into a salad spinner, that all changed. Just clean the greens, give them a good shake, and plop them into the spinner. This tool was especially helpful during the summer, when we had our CSA and were overflowing with fresh spinach, chard, and kale.
5. Stock pot. Reflecting back on my early apartment days… I’m not sure how I did as much cooking as I did. With one pan and one tiny pot, I managed to cook up some decent meals. But, it wasn’t until I invested in a large stock pot that delicious, homemade soups made their way into my rotation. The tool is great for both creamy and chunky stews, soups, and bisques, but also was perfect for brewing a big enough batch of black tea for home-brewed kombucha!
6. Espresso maker. Oh, man, what a game-changer. Lattes > regular brewed coffee, always. A tiny, stove-top percolator costs only $15 and produces wonderfully fresh, strong shots of espresso for your morning fix. We use this thing nearly every day. It’s easy to use, assemble, and clean and saves a crap-ton of money, when compared to how much it would cost to purchase a latte at a coffee shop (why do they still charge extra for soy milk, anyway?!).
What are your favorite kitchen essentials?