Today, I’m sharing the items that I consider to be my top 5 simple cooking must-haves. These are the things I reach for and use all the time and can’t imagine not having in my kitchen.
First of all, I have a confession: I have all kinds of kitchen tools, gadgets and you name it from our last house currently stuffed away in a closet. When they say out of sight is out of mind, they’re not kidding! My ultimate plan is to donate or sell all the stuff I really don’t need or use like I do when I clean out my clothes closet. I have more than I’d like to admit. My InstaPot doesn’t count, because I love it, but I have many specialty cooking gadgets that I rarely break out. They just take up storage space and add to clutter.
What Brought On My Simple Cooking Must-Have List?
Our fixer-upper farmhouse is much smaller than our last house. And the kitchen, therefore, has much less storage space. When I had a nice, large kitchen, I did what a lot of people with nice, large kitchens do – filled my kitchen drawers and cabinets up with all the pretty, trendy things! Bowls and platters and pans made for just one thing, and cooking gizmos galore. Once we moved here, however, I had no other choice than to pare things down in my cabinets. Let’s just say I learned some lessons. More stuff doesn’t mean more happiness and what good does it do if you never use it, and honestly never will?
Nothing on my list today is fancy – these are just hard-working or useful staples and basics that I reach for again and again. So here we go.
Must-Have: Wood Cooking Utensils
First on the list of my 5 simple cooking must-haves is wooden utensils. Turns out our grandparents had the right idea when they stirred, flipped, and strained with wooden spoons and spatulas. After doing some research, I didn’t like what I saw about chemicals leaching into hot food from plastic. Those primarily got the heave-ho. Wood utensils actually look even more beautiful the more you use them and they have that farmhouse vibe. I am swooning over these handcrafted beauties, but for now, I am still using some I purchased a few years ago at a Calphalon warehouse sale. I love the fact that they don’t conduct heat. No burnt fingers are a good thing!
Must-Have: Cooling Racks
I’ve had these cooling racks from Pampered Chef for years. I bought them at a friend’s party, along with a cooking stone. Remember those parties? I love how they stand up on these little legs to circulate air. That extra space comes in handy with holiday baking, too. I slide finished cookie platters underneath them because when you don’t have a ton of kitchen space, you have to make do with what you have to work with. These are so much better than cooling racks that are only elevated an inch or less. I use these cooling racks all the time, and they’re also perfect for drying fresh herbs from the garden.
Must-Have: Stainless Steel Stockpot
My stockpot made the cut as one of my five simple cooking must-haves for a good reason. If you’re starting out with canning but aren’t quite ready to invest in a pressure cooker, (they are expensive and a hot commodity right now anyway) a stockpot like mine is a great alternative. In this stockpot, I can cook small batches of fresh jam and tomato sauce or bone broth. I snagged this one when it was on sale for a steal. Sturdy stockpots in stainless steel like these are durable and conduct heat evenly, which is very important. You can find one similar to mine here.
Must-Have: Mason Jars
When we moved in, I found a large box of vintage mason jars in the barn and felt like I won the lottery – well, almost. Seriously, though, I use mason jars for lots of things: sourdough starter, jellies and jams, pickles – you name it. They are also the perfect fresh-cut farmhouse flower vase or drinking glass. They are perfect for small batches of homemade salad dressing, too. Just put a lid on it, give it a shake and pour your dressing when you’re ready to serve it, or buy one of these converter lids. Because they’re made from glass and not metal, you don’t have to worry about things like acid reactions with your food or a weird, metallic taste. They are the quintessential farmhouse workhorse. You can’t have too many in my opinion!
Must-Have: Cast-Iron Skillet
I broke down and bought one of these Lodge skillets when Matt and I took a recent road trip to Ohio’s Amish country. These skillets go from stovetop to oven in a flash, although that’s not always an easy feat since they are HEAVY. They need little care beyond water and some scraping and oiling to perform and look great. They’re inexpensive, and they can be passed down from generation to generation. I haven’t found a skillet that cooks food as evenly as this $16 purchase. Everything from pancakes and eggs to steaks is seriously amazing when cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
That rounds up my 5 simple cooking must-haves. What are some of the things you can’t do without in the kitchen? Drop me a line and let me know. I’d love to hear from you!