Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Top 10 Stocking Stuffers for your Kitchen

November 24th, 2010 · 17 Comments · What to Buy

A little food, a little shopping, a lot of family time…I sure am looking forward to the next few days!

The kids and I have lots of food to prepare today, because the more healthy food I bring to the family pot luck Thanksgiving, the more healthy choices there are for my family to eat.

For you, I have a little light reading with my kitchen stocking stuffer wish list, the top 10 little items I use all the time (or wish I had) in my kitchen. (Be sure to check out the green wish list and big kitchen gadget wish list for your Black Friday shopping wishes. I’ve also already shared my top 3 fun food gifts.)image

Ove’ Glove
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From basic baking to pulling my yogurt jars out of the boiling water and managing to can tomatoes without killing myself, these babies are constantly busy around here! The versatility of having all your fingers available is priceless.
Lettuce Knife
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Easy to find for under $5, if you want to buy real lettuce in bulk, this little baby is indispensable. You can cut lettuce fast to store for a few days and prevent brown edges. Pair with a Salad Spinner for maximum output! Here’s my ode to salad prep.
A darn good Knife
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This one was a late addition to the list, but when I thought about the ONE ITEM that I use every day, 50 times a day, it’s my favorite knife. I’m constantly chopping vegetables, and I’m never without my big chef’s knife. I’m considering asking for a fancy brand like Wusthof that friends who really know how to cook have recommended to me, and I saw this Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Cook’s Knife or Wusthof Grand Prix II 6-Inch Cook’s Knife for 60% off this week – saivng over $100 on the second one! Mine might be a little longer than 6 inches, but that’s a whale of a deal.
Microplane Zester Grater
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I never thought I wanted one of these, but when I got a hand-me-down from my grandma, I realized a few things. (1) it’s the best way to zest citrus ever created, (2) it really is kind of fun to have freshly grated cheese at the table, and (3) it’s super easy to clean, a major bonus! We end up using it a lot, which was a surprise. I highly recommend having one in your gadget drawer. :)
Glass Shaker
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My sister-in-law found this fun toy for my birthday this year. I’m sure it’s mainly for making drinks, but I’m telling you: I can now make my homemade Italian dressing in about 2 minutes. I store it right in this baby and love it! The best part is that it’s glass, so it’s really easy to wash the base in the dishwasher.
Pastry Blender 
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This item made the list because my pastry blender is pretty junky – the blades are not sharp at all – and I wish I had a new one. I use mine a ton for homemade tortillas, homemade biscuits, and homemade crackers. Here’s a bit less expensive one, but I would pay the $10 more to get a good one nowadays!
Silicone Baking Mat
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I know there’s some controversy over whether silicone is safe or not, but I’m certain it’s safer than my peeling non-stick cookie sheets. I like using parchment paper on really messy tasks, too (unbleached stuff from the health foods store), but I also use the baking mat to avoid the waste. For some things like this peppermint bark (that I’m so ready to make now that I can store it in my garage!), a mat becomes an essential for me. Get the recipe in Smart Sweets!
Stirring things for Lazy People
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When a stirring tool gives me permission to leave it in the pot without worrying about it melting, I’m a happy girl. I love my wooden spoon, but I also love my spoons that can’t stain with tomato sauce. I have two High Temp Nylon Mixing Spoons that are always in business. I’ve had a spoonula (one of those thick spatula thingys) for years now, and I’m telling you: it’s the very best thing for browning beef and scrambling eggs!
Garlic Press
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Definitely browse for more options; this is just one basic example… 
You can get a garlic press for $1-$30 easily. I’d probably shoot mid-range if I did it again, maybe one with an attachment that pops the garlic peels out. This is another gadget I never thought I wanted, because I often used my chopper (from last week’s list) for chopping both onions and garlic. When I ran into some recipes (like homemade salad dressings) that called for garlic but no onion, I realized I wanted a press. It’s another item that is in the “dirty dishes” pile almost daily! (Use garlic often to fight sick bugs!)
Good Rolling Pin
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When we packed up some things to “stage” our house to sell it, I was hard on myself and packed up one of my rolling pins. I made a mistake and packed the better one! I missed it terribly. Two things to look for when buying a rolling pin: heavy and wooden. The best place to find one is a rummage sale, because decades ago women knew how to bake! Forget the non-stick newfangled guys; they’re terrible. Mine looks just like the top photo, and I love it! Some would swear by having handle like this one.

No books? No pots or pans or baking dishes? Choosing 10 was a tough nut to crack, but you can see a list of the good books I’ve read (or others have recommended and are on my own wish list) here, and if I was going to make one more list, it would have been Top 5 Safe Materials to Cook and Store: stuff like stainless steel and glass storage bowls, stoneware for baking (my Pampered Chef baking stone gets a workout 5 times a week, I bet!), and cast iron for the stovetop, like this cast iron pan or this enameled cast iron skillet.

What gadgets are your favorites? I’m always looking for something new for my wish list!

If you’d rather go anti-materialist this week and just enjoy some down time with your family – that’s likely the route I’ll choose as well – you might as well bake. Here are some ideas for you:

You can also still get in the Seventh Generation cleaners, baby, and fem care giveaway HERE.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Disclosure: Links to cooking.com and Amazon will share a small percentage with me. Feel free to shop there – try to avoid Amazon if you can, but man…they sell everything. I want to be able to show you examples of what I’m talking about, but really, I hope you can find these items on sale in a real store in your community. Have fun wish listing! See my full disclosure statement here.

Image from Flickr.


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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Milehimama

    How funny because most of those things I have never used at all in my kitchen! I just use fingers or forks for pastries, for example.

    Things I use all the time – many times a week:
    Electric kettle, boils 2 qts of water in under 5 minutes.

    My Ikea whisk, which is not shaped like a regular whisk but is PERFECT for gravys and sauces (it’s at a 90 degree angle, beautiful for scraping bottoms of pans)

    Immersion blender, which I always thought was kind of stupid until my husband bought me one. LOVE! Mayo, guacamole, soups, and bean pastes (refried beans, white bean paste, hummus, black bean dip…)

    Thermometer – the kind you can plug into a roast while it’s in the oven and sits on the counter, and alerts you when it gets to a certain temp.

    Measuring cups and spoons – having several sets makes cooking awesomely easy.

  • Frances

    I can’t say enough wonderful things about my Magic Bullet, but along the idea of stocking-stuffers I’ve been thinking the Misto is a great invention! It’s healthier and environmentally kind because it’s reusable and it’s a non-aerosol spray can.

    Katie Reply:

    The Misto was on my list but got booted! ;) Katie

  • Brittany

    I love my immersion blender and Crockpot. They rarely get put away because they’re in use so often.

  • Jill

    Katy,
    Do you know if I could make sour dough crackers on the silicone mat? That would really cut down on the parchment waste!

    Katie Reply:

    Jill,
    I guarantee it! It works great! :) Katie

  • erin

    Its amazing how the rolling pin was in every home back in the day, now no one has one. I didn’t until I started making organic/real food mostly from home. I HAD to go get one then, so I did, but before then, I never had one and rarely would find a reason or recipe that needed one.

    Erin
    GymboCraze.weebly.com

  • Frances

    I’ve been eyeing the Ove Glove…but I wondered how easy they are to clean. Can they go in the washer? We’d be sure to get them dirty all the time in our house…

    Katie Reply:

    Frances,
    They are machine washable, hang to dry! Simple! :) Katie

  • Susan Alexander

    What spatulas and spoons do you use in your cast iron? All of mine seem to melt?

    Katie Reply:

    Susan,
    I regularly use the spoonula (like pictured in this post, but mine is from Williams Sonoma). I also have a pretty nice spatula for flipping burgers and such, but I don’t leave that one sitting in there. Remember that cast iron holds a lot of heat, so after you preheat it, you might want to cook on a lower temp. ??? Some say you can use metal, some say that will scratch your cast iron too much. You could surely use wooden spoons!

    good luck! :) Katie

  • Beverly

    My rolling pin dates back to the 1920′s and was my grandmother’s. I love it! Just like you said, it’s heavy and wooden, the two most important qualities of a good rolling pin. I hope I never have to look for a replacement. I am so spoiled by my antique!

    I have a couple Ove Gloves too and like them a lot.

  • Heather

    If you are looking to buy really good knives, you might take a look at Cutco, too. I sold them for awhile, back in college, and kept my demonstrator set. That was 20 years ago, I have always been a from-scratch cook, and my knives are still in like-new condition, even though they’ve been heavily used. The knives are surgical steel, with ergonomic handles, made from the stuff bowling balls are made of, so totally dishwasher safe.
    But the icing on the cake is Cutco’s “Forever Guarantee”, which is no joke. When your knives get dull (every few years, in my house–these babies STAY sharp), you send them into the factory. They sharpen, and, if needed, REPLACE, and return to you. This even includes Cutco knives that you happened to pick up at the flea market (yes, I’ve tested this), not just ones you bought for full price. These knives aren’t cheap, but they really are the last ones you will ever have to buy. Sometimes, you can find better prices on ebay, and the guarantee still applies, so grabbing an ebay set & sending it into the factory for maintenance (this costs like $8, for return UPS), is totally an option.

    We’re about to buy a Cutco garlic press, too–at least they’ll replace it WHEN, not if, it dies of metal fatigue. My big, heavy OXO Good Grips press, which was about 4 years old, bit the dust the other day. I was pressing garlic, and the metal at the hinge just plain broke.

    Katie Reply:

    Heather, I looked at Cutco this summer but really wasn’t sure if I’d like the serrated style edge. Good to hear a genuine endorsement! Thanks! :) Katie

    Heather Reply:

    The edges are serrated or not according to the purpose of the knife. Knives meant for meat, and the bread knife are serrated, because serrations are what works better in those cases. The knives for veggie chopping are not serrated. My favorites are the petite chef (smaller veggie chopping knife), and the trimmer, which I use so much that I’d love to have a second one. The spatula spreader is also an extremely useful critter, for everything from frosting and mayo to serving cakes and such.
    The serrated knives really should be sharpened at the factory, but it is okay (& does not void the warranty) if you choose to sharpen the not-serrated ones at home.

  • AmandaonMaui

    To comment about the glass shaker. For making salad dressings I just save an old dressing bottle and shake it up in there.

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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