Sunday, January 24, 2010

Kitchen Necessities (or at least good things to have)

So, since starting college (back in 2005), I have taken an interest in cooking (since you know, being away from my family, eating meals mean eating out or eating something at home--and while frozen entrees and such are okay for lunch, I really don't want them for all my dinners). I know that this interest in cooking comes as a shock, since I have a recipe blog and all, but it's true ;-). What started out as the occasional spaghetti dinner (store bought noodles, sauce, and bread) eventually led to a desire to try out new recipes, which led to an accumulation of cookbooks (which is still growing). In addition, I have at various times (including now), decided to improve my health, and have tried cooking at home so I could control the calorie/fat/sugar intake. Finally, having gotten married and started Pharmacy school, I have wanted to expand my cooking repertoire so that I can cook for John (not to mention save some money by eating out less). Now, what's the point of telling you all this? Well, my cooking endeavors have necessitated that I get certain pieces of culinary "equipment." Some I use frequently and have been very useful in creating multiple recipes, and so I would like to share what those are here, for anyone who is trying to cook more. If you're interested, read on. If not, sorry you wasted your time reading all this. ;-)

KitchenAid 7-Cup Food Processor
This was a wedding gift from my family, and has been very useful. It has a large capacity, and is often a better choice than a blender. It is good at grinding up chicken for chicken salad, for grinding up nuts, etc. Very helpful.

KitchenAid 5-Quart Stand Mixer
Yes, this is the item on many couple's Wedding Registries, and yes, it has quite a hefty price tag (appx $250, currently). But it really has been very helpful when making fillings, cakes, etc. Whenever you need ingredients mixed very well, it is a dream to have. Even if I mixed something for hours, I couldn't get it as smooth as this does. Of course, unless someone gets it for you as a wedding gift (or your very generous grandmother gives it to you as a birthday present, like mine did), you'll probably have to buy it yourself. But hey, if you set aside $20 every month (only $5/week) for a year, you will just about have enough for one! So if you really enjoy cooking, that would be my suggestion. Save up overtime and get one--you'll be glad you did! (Oh, and it comes in lots of colors...mine is Pink!)

Williams Sonoma's 10-Piece Glass Bowl Set

Yes, even though I love my KitchenAid mixer, I still like these mixing bowls (given to me by my friends the Turners for our wedding). I use them almost every time I make a meal--even if things don't need to be mixed, it is a good way to store and separate ingredients. Of course, you don't need this exact set (it's just the one I have)...I just think that the various sizes are helpful.

All-Clad Stainless-Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons

So, pretty much everyone already has measuring cups and why bother recommending these? Well, there is one particular feature I think is neat about these (the cups, specifically): Within each cup, there are marks on the inside indicating other cup sizes. That is, in the "1 cup" cup, there are markings on the inside for 3/4 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1/4 cup. For the 1/2 cup there is a 1/4 cup mark on the inside, and for the 1/4 cup there is a 1/8 cup marking. So basically, you could use just one measuring cup for an entire recipe that called for different amounts of a particular ingredient. And plus, stainless steel is always good. So thanks to the Hurts for getting us these!

Williams Sonoma's Glass & Stainless Steel Cookbook Holder

So, not only does this hold open cookbooks (believe me, over the years I have discovered this is a very helpful thing to have), but on the side it lists all sorts of cooking measurements/conversions (both US & Metric). This was also a wedding gift, from my mom's cousin Rebecca. Thanks!

Wilton Ultimate Bake and Carry Set

This was given to us as a wedding gift from our Randolph friend, Sara Singhal. It includes a 12 cup muffin bake pan, 24 cup mini muffin bake pan, 13" x 9" bake pan, a 3-piece oblong caddy (to set your baked goods on for transport), and an extra deep cover and locking latches to keeps your desserts safe and secure during travel. I have used it recently when making the aforementioned Hungry Girl Red Velvet Cupcakes for John and myself, and then for his Dungeons & Dragons group.

Anchor Hocking Oven Basics 6-Piece Bake N Take Bakeware Set

So, my mom has had a Pyrex version of this for awhile, and I always thought it was neat. Well, we got one as a wedding gift, and it has been great! The set includes a 3 Quart Baker with a blue plastic lid for travel, a 2 Quart Baker with a blue plastic lid for travel, a convenient baker tote and a Hot/Cold pack to help keep your dishes hot/cold while traveling. I have already used it several times for potlucks/dinners with our Young Marrieds Bible Study.

There are many other gadgets/appliances I have (many of them also wedding presents) that are great, but these are some of my favorites. Hope at least one person found this useful. =)

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