We have a revolving 'hanger' (like a round tie rack?) that hangs under the cabinet in an unused corner near the stove. It holds a set of tools that came with it (potato masher, slotted spoon, spoon, spatula, etc.) and it was made by "Flint". We've had it 47 years, as it was an 'engagement gift' from my FIL. The spatula handle broke (probably from over use) but other wise everything is still going strong!! We bought 'commercial' spoons and slotted spoons which hang 'nested' where the spatula used to. On another counter we have a decorative 'jug' which holds all the wooden and plastic spoons, sporks and spatulas. The unit that holds the microwave has cabinet space for baking pans,etc. below, and shelves for ingredients above, plus a drawer that holds meat and candy thermometers, egg seperators, and other tools. The top of this unit holds Tupperware storage for various flours. Hubby has a plastic box with lid that is stored in the dining room which holds "seldom used" gadgets, like funnels and the egg slicer.
Alas, I have no space for hanging down things, but I do have spoons and whisk and such in a stainless container like your jug next to the range.
This post is full of awesome (and kick ass advice as well)!
I got one of those nested bowl sets 20 years ago and 4 moves, 1 marriage and divorce and a host of other life type stuff they are still one of the best presents I ever got.
I might also throw in a set of 4 or 8 little glass custard cups. They're great for making individual size portions (cakes, fancy mashed potatoes, etc) but they're also great for mise en place as well as a dish to put salt or herb in so you don't risk cross contamination when working with meat.
Thanks! I wondered if this one was just too obvious, so it took a long time to write and revise.
I do have a bunch of Corelle fruit bowls that come in handy for that sort of thing, actually.
Have to second the shout-out to Barkeeper's Friend. It truly is the shit. We bought ours at William-Sonoma when we purchased our All-Clad set many years ago. It goes a long way, so once someone's found it, it should last them for a while.
It's like this amazing, magical cleaning invention! I'm still amazed when I use it.
You don't have to use the Stainless Steel version, just so as you know. Heck, I never even knew that it existed! The regular version works fantastically well.
I have the regular version as well, now, for bathroom cleaning and such.
This is reminding me that it's time to go through my utensil drawer again. I did it last year, and culled some things, but I know there are still things in there that I thought I might still need, but don't. And I like the above commenters idea about moving seldom-used but still needed items to another location - there's probably room in my storage cabinet for a box of things I don't use on a regular basis, but still would like to keep available.
Definitely a good idea to move the seldom used items to another space. I'm lucky to have the built-in china cabinet for some of those things.
I already responded with some of the ways our kitchen is organized, but realized I forgot to thank you for this excellent post!!
Okay, I swear this is the last one... We have a great magnetic knife holder stored on a wall; keeps knives safe, handy and reduces the need for searching.
I'm debating getting a magnetic knife holder for the side of the fridge, but at this point I mostly have enough counter space.
Don't do it!! One pull or set down wrong on those magnets and your knife blade has a chunk out of it. This is not to mention the amount of surface scratching you will end up with.
Thank you! Glad of the good advice!
the only thing i'd add is "broiler pan". most stoves come with one, but if you live in apartments, you may not have one because the last tenant took it with them. and you can find them in small sizes for people who cook for one!
Oh, yeah. Broiler pan is a must! If I didn't include that in cook pans, I should have.
one of the things i'm interested in you touching on in your "what a properly outfitted kitchen needs" is place settings.
how many is a good idea? what sort of plates/bowls/cups/flatware/glasses? a lot of people dont think about that until they realize "oops, too many visitors as opposed to dishes to eat from!"
i have a friend who buys up mismatched nice china, so that she has enough mixed settings for 20 people without thinking about it, same with flatware. and it all looks charming on her table, too. (its all china, no earthenware stuff in there.)
That is highly dependent on how you entertain.
We have service for eight, but a dining room that can barely manage six. Most of our entertaining is done informal buffet style, so that's plenty for us.
If we suddenly decided that we wanted to give dinner parties with 12 guests, I would buy place settings to accommodate that change (and there would be some serious rearranging of the dining space!), but for now our eight place settings of sturdy earthenware serve us well.
For mixing bowls I prefer ceramic to glass: you can't see through them and they are heavier, but if you drop them the shards tend to be a lot larger and easier to clean up. Metal bowls are a good idea though. I'll have to buy some.
For the small Food Network bowls (also useful for dipping bowls while eating) I just went to Chinatown and got some of the little bowls you get for soy sauce at sushi joints. At first I got three of them just as a whim, since they were cute and only fifty cents. There are about a dozen of them now. Once you discover how multi-purpose they are (good for tea bags too) you really can't have enough of them.
Otherwise we're pretty much in sync with what we have. I have way more (too many) utensils, though. A short vase is a good way to store handled things and can be shoved around the counter or placed elsewhere if needed.
The soy sauce bowls are a great idea. I do have some small fruit bowls that I use for those purposes.
Eliminating some of those extra utensils might surprise you at how much easier it is to find stuff and how much you really don't need those extra things.
Soy sauce bowls are like little godlings, and they are wicked cheap. Good for toothbrush holders too.
I do so need to get rid of utensils. It's hard because my mood determines the types of things cooked, so in one washing cycle I sometimes go through six spoons, sometimes six spatulas, sometimes three metal spatulas, etc. I've always had a hoarding tendancy as well. Stupid dishwasher. Back when I had to handwash everything I could get by with just one or two of anything...
I tend to wash things as I go along, so I don't go through that many utensils.
That's another fun synergy in the kitchen: one person cooking, one person cleaning and making sure things are in the right place. Not quite like a sous chef, but similar. I make a great pseudo-sous chef.. during cooking.
But when the food is ready things tend to sit there and get forgotten while the feast is being consumed.
Very few people both clean and cook at the same time. I am impressed!
When I am cleaning up for others who are cooking, I refer to myself as "house elf."
I also try to clean while cooking but for certain dishes there's a quick "from the pan to the plate to the mouth" timeframe that doesn't allow for it. Still. Clean early when possible. Waiting for that movie to end means a lot more work later.
I pretty much agree with everything you've written; the disagreements are more matter of personal style and habit. The little bowls, and the meat thermometer, though are absolutely essential. I'd never had a meat thermometer before living with Jane, and it makes such a difference in how the roasts come out.
And poultry - not overcooking it for fear of undercooking it is awesome.
Ooooh, I want those mixing bowls.
I heart OXO Good Grips a lot. I have a set of their plastic mixing bowls, and they're my go-to for just about anything mixing bowl related. Between them and Kitchenaide, my kitchen needs are pretty well met.
We keep our utensils in a set of ceramic jars I found at a flea market many, many years ago. They're four different sizes, allowing me to sort the utensils so I'm not digging around looking for the little whisk in a drawer full of spoons and spatulas. This has also comes in handy because I have a constant visual reminder of which utensils could do with replacing any time we come across a particularly good deal.
To your list I would add an herb mincer, a garlic press, and a cheese grater. I'm not personally a fan of wooden or plastic spoons, I much prefer spoontulas. I think that may be in part due to my parents having a giant collection of wooden and plastic spoons when I was growing up, which never seemed to do much good for the actual stirring.
Adam thought the idea of using a product called "Bar Keepers Friend" on our pots was a little weird. Right up until the first time he used it. The only thing that keeps him from using it on everything is the little incident with one of my cookie sheets. (To be fair, I told him he could try it)
I forgot the cheese grater. Duh. A garlic press would be nice. I have a mincer and find it too fussy to clean so end up not using it.
I like to minimize the number of things on the counter, so the utensil crocks would not work got me.
Bar Keeper's Friend should be given to every newly married couple.
My herb mincer is OXO and is dishwasher safe. Two hand saving features in one!
There are only two small drawers right next to our stove, neither of which are ideal for utensils, so I'm fortunate to have a nice section of counter where the crocks tuck perfectly. I have a bad habit of leaving things where I think I'm most likely to use them. The crocks keep me organized and limits the number of doodads I can keep. If it doesn't fit in the jar, then there must be a'cullin!
Culling is A Very Good Thing.
Excellent post, i love the kitchen posts. Especially since its officially the time of year when I really start baking a lot. I have been wanting to add an herb mincer to my collection of supplies, but will just make due with using my knives after you mentioning how fussy it is to clean. A garlic press is a must, but lately I have been having a hard time finding one I like that actually does what it is supposed to, holds up well and doesn't require me taking out a second mortgage, I may have to break down and take out that second mortgage soon though.
I have a decent collection of wooden (bamboo actually) spoons and I far prefer them to any of the plastic etc. spoons I have. I also have the usual collection of spatulas, but I have to say, I have become a spoontula convert. I bought one at Sur le Table after using one at my Mom's house, it is completely silicon coated metal, which means it is protected from the heat for sauteing but sturdy enough (it's actually heavier than you would think to look at it) to stir up a batch of brownies with the added convenience of being able to scrape the bowl when transferring to the baking dish without having to get another utensil dirty.
I've never used Barkeepers Friend, but I have used Cameo copper cleaner for our copper-bottom pots, it is to copper pot bottoms, what it sounds like Barkeepers Friend is to stainless. Copper is notorious for getting discolored from being exposed to heat, and Cameo is a Goddess-send for getting it back to all of it's shiny goodness with very little effort.
My approach to herbs is kitchen shears. I snip them up and it works great.
I have a spoontula (obviously a big brother to the spork) that I like, but it's gotten a bit melty and I haven't been able to find others sturdy enough to please me. Sur le Table it is!
Hit Williams-Sonoma. Theirs go up to something ridiculous like 600 or 800 degrees. (I ought to know the exact temperature...don't tell my boss!)
Coolness. I was at the mall with the Williams-Sonoma in it the other day, but was in too much of a hurry to actually stop in. I'll be up that way tomorrow, though!
Side note - Is there any point to me following LivingGraciously, or will all of those all be x-posted to this journal? The double-post is a bit annoying, but I'd rather that than miss anything if it's not all dupes.
They're all cross posted. Everything ends up here.
I feel like this entry belongs in a magazine. :)