As my college graduation approached, I felt a glow of self-satisfaction from all of my accomplishments. Between giving up Sunday Funday as a weekly ritual and furnishing my apartment beyond its former Bob-Marley-poster-aesthetic, I was a grown up. Most crucial to my new adult persona— I could cook. One year of cable and an obsession with Food Network had given me that ability, and I was fully prepared demonstrate it. When my parents came up for my graduation, I would cook them a totally impressive, highly sophisticated dinner.
That was my vision, at least. I’ll tell you the reality: total chaos. First, my basil pesto leaked out of my roommate’s blender, making an oily mess on the counter. “It’s missing the rubber thingy,” she later informed me… thanks for that, Jamie. Then I burned myself removing chicken from the oven with salad fork (yep, no tongs). Finally, due to a lack of serveware, I had to present my beautiful creation… in plastic tupperware. Awesome.
The above incident is why I want to share how I finally got my s$%! together in the kitchen. Below is a list of my “kitchen heroes,” tools I rely on multiple times per week or even daily. They not only prevent me from turning into a hot mess when I entertain, but improve my daily life too. If you’ve collected the basics (toaster oven, microwave, a few useful pans, etc.), but still feel like your kitchen does not reflect your shiny, new adultness… read on!
Don’t sprain your wrist trying to chop a carrot with your dull, $10 knife. Invest in a chef’s knife that’s properly weighted, super sharp, and made to last. It will make you not only more efficient, but also appear to have a set of badass knife skills. Although I’ve linked to my favorite, go to a kitchen supply store and try before you buy— the right knife is all about individual preference.
No more digging for your spatula at the very moment your omelet needs flipping or running for your slotted spoon as your pasta overcooks. It will all be right there by your stove, and you will feel organized as f*&! every time you reach for a cooking utensil.
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If you’re really busy (lazy) like me, you’ll appreciate how quickly an electric kettle can boil water— way, way faster than your stove. Thanks to my kettle, I now enjoy a flawless cup of pour over coffee every morning. From making a quick Cup Noodles (because somehow that didn’t get old in college) to boiling an egg, the uses go on and on.
An attractive set of baking dishes will allow you to take your food right from oven to table and still make a great presentation. I use mine to make chicken, fish, veggies, and occasionally lasagne. For the sugar addicts— they’re also great for brownies and cakes. Buy a set with lids, so you can easily store leftovers.
Pyrex has fewer chemicals than plastic, lasts forever, and doesn’t absorb any of the color or flavor from your food. It’s also oven-safe, so you can cook, store, and reheat your food all in the same container. No extra dishes, no extra work, no gross stains from your leftovers— instant life upgrade.
For some reason, a lot of blenders are total crap. I once killed an almost-new blender while making hummus. Hummus! No offense, blender, but you had one job to do. Although it’s a splurge, I recommend a Ninja or a Vitamix. Both are made with better materials and much stronger motors than other blenders. Blendtec is another solid blender. It literally blends anything, look!
A mini-prep is a smaller, pared-down food processor. I use mine to chop veggies, blend pesto, and make salad dressing, sauces, and marinades. It’s way less trouble to set up, clean, and store than a full-sized food processor.
Serving espresso to your dinner guests after the meal? Instant adult cred. Also, if you’ve never heard of affogato… you’re welcome.
You’re a busy adult now, so you don’t have time to wrestle with the plastic seal on the peanut butter jar or pluck the leaves off your parsley one by one. Kitchen shears will help you eliminate that kind of nonsense from your life.
A microplane is basically a super-fine grater that you can use for cheese and citrus alike. Hear me out on this one— adding lemon zest to pasta, chicken, fish, salad dressing, etc. is a pretty next-level move for the home cook. Bonus: impress a date by making a quick pasta and grating fresh Parmesan onto it, Italian restaurant style.
Photo Credit: sweetbeetandgreenbean
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