Friday, January 22, 2016

7 Kitchen Items I Couldn't Live Without

Everyone's got their list...their items they use frequently in the kitchen and couldn't live without.  I've got mine!  Okay, maybe I'm being dramatic.  I COULD live without them, but I certainly don't want to.  Some of these are clearly convenience items, but still, they are things that significantly improve my time in the kitchen, and on top of that, they are used quite often in my kitchen.

Here's my kitchen "loves" list...

1. Crock Pot.  I am the proud owner of three well-loved crock pots.  I use them for everything from dinners, to homemade yogurt, to keeping foods warm away from the home, to making chicken stocks.    I often have more than one going at the same time!  Crock pots are easy, but do have a learning curve.  Every crock pot cooks differently, some running hotter than others or cooking foods faster.  THIS is my favorite and most used.

2. Mason Jars.  I LOVE mason jars.  I use them for storing dried beans, rice, homemade granola, tea bags, homemade coffee syrups, leftovers, yogurts, and more.  I HATE storage containers (where'd that dang lid go?!?!).  Mason jars are the perfect storage containers.  The lids are all the same (two sizes only-regular or wide), so I always have some available.  Plus, you can buy JUST the lids in a pack if you somehow manage to lose them anyway.  If you have a Winco near you, they regularly have the best prices on Ball canning jars.  I use them in all different sizes, and I especially love my half gallon ones.

 3. Ball Canning Funnel.  This gets used at least 5 times every week.  Long gone are the days where I spill half my contents on the counter while trying to fill a jar.  This funnel is definitely a good friend in my kitchen.  It just sits right on top of the jar and I can pour my contents right in.  The above pictured one is blue, but mine is green.

 4.  Chemex. Alright, so technically I'd file this under "husband's favorite kitchen items," but I have to admit I've become a coffee snob since the introduction of this to our kitchen.  This makes the BEST coffee.  I don't even know how to use it, though.  So that poses a mid-day "I need coffee" problem.  But after having coffee from the Chemex every day for a couple months, coffee in our espresso machine tasted "metal-y."  No thanks.  It does require special filters.    Love this little machine and the coffee it makes!

 5.  Cheesecloth.  Ever tried straining homemade yogurts or chicken stocks without good cheesecloth?  It can take forever and you can end up with not great results.  Invest in some good, washable and reusable cheesecloth, and you will be SO glad you did.  I love THIS cheesecloth.  Time saver, and money saver in the long run.

6.  Garlic Press.  I don't know how I survived the first 6 years of my marriage without a garlic press.  Oh yes, that's right, I just didn't cook with garlic.  I use my garlic press approximately 3-5 times every week.  I'm REALLY hoping for a good garlic harvest this spring!  Garlic is so yummy, and a garlic press makes it so easy to incorporate into your meals.  I have THIS one from Pampered Chef, but I'm certain there are other great garlic presses out there for cheaper!

 7.  Silicone Pastry Mat.  In our kitchen, we have a kitchen island that we built ourselves.  The top is rustic and not a totally smooth surface.  I make our own breads, rolls, and tortillas often and need a nice smooth surface to roll them out on.  After trying a more firm pastry mat that cracked and broke within a few months, I found this silicone one and am pleasantly pleased with it.  It is also oven safe up to 450 degrees as a non-stick baking liner.  This is used multiple times a week, and it's in great condition still.

Well there you have it!  Seven of my most favorite and well-used kitchen items!  Of course, there are many other "regulars" in my kitchen that are assumed necessities (pot & pans, an abundance of coffee mugs, etc.), but these are more so the "not your average" kitchen items.  What are your favorite kitchen items?

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