I LOVE kitchen gadgets! The longer I cook, the more I learn, and the more gadgets I acquire. I think it is a fair trade off when you look at the cost to feed a family of five at a restaurant. Here are some of my favorites:
In my humble opinion, everyone needs a crock pot. I use mine a ton, as you will come to know as we continue cooking together. Some things just cook better in the crock pot. Crock pots don’t heat up your whole house, like having the oven on all day does. Crock pots are just a useful and versatile tool to have in your kitchen collection.
I am a rice cooker convert. I’ve said more than once in my life, “There is no reason to have a rice cooker, you can cook rice in a pan on the stove.” I am now retracting this statement. I have found that rice cooks to perfection every time in my rice cooker, which I cannot say about cooking it on the stove top. What is nice about this particular gadget, is that it can also serve multiple purposes. My particular brand of rice cooker can steam, saute and simmer, and slow cook. So depending on the size of your family, you may not need a crock pot if you have a rice cooker. It can serve both purposes.
If you are looking to replace or upgrade your pots and pans, I HIGHLY recommend Copper Chef. These pans are so much better than Teflon in my opinion. You do need to care for them according to the instructions, but when you do nothing sticks. The first time I made a fried egg and the egg slid around on the pan as it cooked, I was hooked forever. After using the pots and pans for about 2 years, I recently purchased a set of bakeware as well. As far as care and cooking go, you need to ditch your cooking spray when using these pans. If you use cooking spray you will ruin the finish forever. But there are many other things to use, butter, canola oil, coconut oil, olive oil, to just name a few. The second thing is to keep these pans out of the dishwasher. In my house, I don’t usually have room for pans in the dishwasher anyway; but on the off chance there is room – it is a big no-no. Finally, you need to season your frying pans on a regular basis to keep the finish in good shape. I shoot for once a month. After you wash the pan, you spread some oil in the pan, heat it on the stove for 30 seconds to a minute, let it cool, wipe away any excess oil, and you are done. Not a big deal for the joy of cooking in pans where your food does not get stuck like cement, leaving half the yummy goodness in the pan instead of on your plate.
For your sanity and safety, please buy yourself a nice set of knives. It truly does make a difference. Your knives need to be sharp or chopping vegetables is a pain and you won’t want to do it. I mean it, if you are doing all your cutting with a steak knife and a butter knife, you will be blown away the first time you cut using sharp kitchen knives. Make the investment – it’s worth it.
Even if you have awesome knives, I still say it is worth the investment to get a good Food Processor. I personally have a Cuisinart that was gifted to me by my awesome mom. My favorite uses actually have more to do with blending and mixing than chopping. My top 5 got to the food processor items are: Hummus, Pesto, Salsa, Bread Crumbs, and Pie Crust. It is a larger investment, so you may want to think about how much you will use it. It is also a larger, heavier kitchen appliance, so I leave it out on the counter all year round. Space could be an issue as well depending on your kitchen.
Finally, my truest love (as kitchen gadgets go) is my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Now I did not always want this item. Matter of fact, I thought it was too expensive and something I would never use. In the beginning of my culinary life, I never baked. I mean NEVER! All things baked came out of boxes. But then came along my husband and he loves desserts. Then came my children, they also love desserts. Finally, I became obsessed with all the unnecessary ingredients in so many of the foods we eat. These three things turned me into a baker and my mixer turned my baking up a notch. It is again a large, rather heavy piece of kitchen equipment, so think about your space and storage before bringing one into your home.