The moment I decided that this column was going to be dedicated to “my favorite things,” I just couldn’t get that song out of my head!
Yes, that song. You know, crisp apple strudels and even schnitzel with noodles!
Isn’t it a lovely song to have stuck in your head all day?
Originally, I was just going to pick five of my favorite kitchen items. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave any one of these items out, for fear of hurting feelings. Yes, you better believe my rice cooker has feelings. There’s no way I would risk a lifetime of mushy rice as retribution!
These 6 items (I know you think you only see 5, but the beautiful walnut board is the 6th) are things that I am madly, deeply in love with, would never trade anything in the world for and can’t imagine my kitchen without.
1. Starting at the top is my sauté pan with a lid. It’s not just any sauté pan—it’s a nonstick pan. Many of my cheffy/kitchen snobby friends make fun of the fact that I like to use nonstick, but the truth is, I use less oil and I spend zero time scrubbing. My sauté pan does triple duty as a frying pan, oven vessel and even as my wok. Its high sides are perfect for a stir fry (and if you’ve ever done a stir fry in a shallow frying pan, you know what I’m talking about). If I could only have 1 pan, this would be it! The one I have is a Scanpan, and while it’s probably one of the most expensive brands out there, I love it because it’s oven safe, PFOA-free and you can use metal utensils with (yes, you really can!).
2. Next is my trusty rice cooker. I. cook rice quite often, as it’s incredibly simple and I can set the timer to cook perfect fluffy rice at anytime of the day. Brown rice, Jasmine, risotto, wild, sweet … this baby will cook any type of rice you want, and you don’t need to watch the clock or tend to a simmering pot. If you’re in the market for a rice cooker, it’s best to invest in one that has a timer and a warming function. Also important is the ability to cook brown rice. I love appliances that have a “set it and forget it” function.
3. To the left of my rice cooker is my 3rd pair of green tongs. And it’s not because they keep breaking, but rather, anyone who’s laid their grimy little hands on my green tongs wants to take them home. Inevitably, every time I host a cooking party, they go missing. Thank goodness they are inexpensive, otherwise I’d have to strap an alarm on the tongs or chain them to my wrist. There’s no brand mentioned on the green silicone-tipped tongs, but I got them at Sur La Table. In fact, on SLT’s website, they’re just called “Green Locking Tongs” but I think they deserve a sexier name (and, um, also maybe some branding on the tongs themselves so that my friends know where they can buy them instead of swiping mine!).
4. The next product is the newest member of the Steamy Kitchen household. It’s a Wusthof Blackwood Ikon 9″ Chef’s Knife that I purchased two months ago. It just feels so good in my hands. Big, manly, strong, smooth. Oh, excuse me, I’m blushing.
5. If you’re a lover of hand carved wooden spoons and spatulas, you must visit James Wilson’s site called Spoonmaker. If you live near Seattle, you’re lucky, as his booth is in the Pike Place Market. James handcrafts hardwood utensils and has been doing this for the past 45 years. My spatula is one that I reach for every single day, and not because it’s beautifully hand carved, but the shape and size of it make it extremely versatile. Stir, scoop, smash and flip. Right now, I’m coveting the half-cup spoons carved out of King Apple.
6. Last but not least, the wooden board all those things are resting on is custom-made by Eric Childress. I told Eric how big I wanted my board, which wood to use and also edge grain vs. end grain. In my case, I wanted a large 22″x24″ walnut board that was 1″ thick, edge grain. Because I take a lot of photos in my kitchen, and my countertops are kinda ugly, I wanted a board that was big enough for ingredient and process shots. And you’ll be surprised how little it costs: this one was only $60! Eric charges by the square inch. If I would have purchased the same board at retail, I would be paying three times as much. It does take time though; I received mine in about 3 weeks. But it’s gorgeous and fits my counter perfectly. I’m glad I was patient and waited.
Okay, that’s it for my favorite 6! Tell me about yours! What are your favorite kitchen items?
Jaden Hair is a food writer, television personality, and food photographer based in Tampa Bay, Florida. Find more of her recipes in her blog, Steamy Kitchen, where you can also read more about Jaden’s new book, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, and the rave reviews it’s received!