Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Twelve Must-Have Kitchen Accessories

 As I frantically try to get the garden ready for the possibility of frost Friday morning, while canning everything that holds still long enough to stick in a jar and trying (and usually failing) to keep up on my usual daily and weekly homemaking chores of keeping up the house, staying on top of laundry and dishes, making sure everyone eats and eats well, homeschooling, and gets to where they need to go for dance classes and soccer practices *takes deep breath* I present to you another guest blog post.  This one is by my mom, also known as the blogger at Lawnless Trials Goes Homesteading.  You can find her on Facebook as well.  Oh, and Mom?  I don't have #2 anymore (mine broke), #10 (other than what is on the microwave and technically I don't own that since it is part of the rental property), or #12.  I know you know when my birthday is! *wink*

We all have favorite small kitchen aides. For me, there was that small paring knife. Using it was so ingrained that I never considered how inadequate it was for some of the jobs it performed. I wore that blade down so much that I eventually had to throw it away. For years, I made cookies according to the recipe: "drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet." When I opened a home-canned jar, I continued to use the two-piece lid to keep the contents fresh. I used two knives to cut shortening into the flour for biscuits and pie crust. Sometimes, these were acts of frugality; more often, I simple didn't know any better.
Top left, counter clockwise: plastic lid, pump sprayer, pastry cutter, wire whisk, chef's knife, small scoop, needle-nosed pliers, can opener, paper scissors, kitchen shears, timer, four tablespoon measure, scale.

Now I do, and I'd like to share this list of a dozen small accessories that make kitchen chores so much easier.

1. Plastic screw-on lids for mason jars. So many uses. For example, use on home-canned jars after you've opened them, and for sealing jars of dried herbs.

2. Pump sprayer for oil. Mine contains olive oil, and I use it instead of a store-bought non-stick spray.

3. Pastry cutter. The secret to light baking-powder biscuits and flaky pie crust.

4. Wire whisk. This works so much better than a spoon!

5. Chef's knife. My husband is always lecturing me about using the right tool for the job. This is just as important in the kitchen as for the handyman. I can't believe how much faster and easier cutting goes with this wonderful tool.

6. Small scoop. Baking cookies is a number one requirement in my grandmother job description book. I like using this scoop. (So do the grandkids.) It can also serve to make small meatballs and, probably, watermelon or other fruit scoops.

7. Needle-nosed pliers. I use these to remove plastic rings from bottles before they go into the recycling bin, and to open "easy-open" lids that I couldn't otherwise get a hold of.

8. Manual can opener. I've never met an electric can opener that worked well and lasted long enough to justify its cost. A good manual works just as fast, without the noise or electricity. As a matter of fact, it's a good idea to have one in the kitchen and another with your emergency supplies.

9. Scissors. Two of them. One pair of good kitchen shears for cutting meat and herbs, for instance, and a second pair for cutting any sort of packaging.

10. A Timer. I like one that you set once, press a button when it rings, and it resets for the same time. This is so helpful when I'm blanching gallons of something at the rate of two cups to a batch. I have to admit it can get confusing in my kitchen when this little timer plus the timers on the stove and microwave are all working at the same time.

11. Four Tablespoon Liquid Measure. The biggest problem with this little gem is that I use it so often that I forget where I put it last and have trouble finding it for the next task. I measure two tablespoons for lemon juice for a large glass of lemonade, three tablespoons olive oil for pizza crust. It's especially helpful in halving recipes now that I'm cooking (mostly) for only two.

12. A Scale. Just how much is "three peppers"? I love recipes that give ingredients by weight. If a serving size is given as two ounces and 200 calories, I can measure the food. This is a great way to keep from cheating on a diet. We measure coffee grounds before grinding them fresh. I weigh the bread dough to be sure the loaves are equal in size, the pizza dough before I roll it out to make small rounds to go into the freezer, produce as it goes into freezer bags so I'll know how much I've put up, packages to be mailed, and.... And other stuff.

Could I list another dozen items that I find indispensable in the kitchen? Let's see: cutting boards in sizes to fit different tasks; measuring cups and spoons; a variety of knives suitable for a variety of job; good quality pots and pans, including stock pots; food strainers; serving spatula; cooking spatula; rolling pin; wooden spoon; corkscrew; potato masher. Gee, I think that's more than twelve, and there's no mention here of canning equipment! But that would be an entirely different list.

The twelve accessories listed above are, except for the scale and chef's knife, inexpensive. I think they're all worth having. Just wanted to share that thought with you.

So that's what my mom thinks.  What are some of your most essential kitchen accessories?


  1. Cleared off, clean horizontal surfaces. They're restful to the eyes and inspiring to the mind.

  2. What is that? Just kidding--kind of. Right now, all my formerly cleared off, clean horizontal surfaces are covered with yesterday's canning projects!

  3. Cast iron cookware. I would go insane without mine. I have "the omelette pan" which is so well cured that the surface is like glass, and a variety of others as well as a dutch oven and a griddle for stove top use. Heck, I even have a cast iron wood cook stove, though that isn't something most people want in their kitchen (I'm weird that way LOL).

  4. I have a weird kitchen item - a game mat. This the the mat my husband uses when he hosts DnD games. I've found that it's the perfect size and material to roll bread dough out onto. The grids are 1 inch squares, so I can immediately tell if my dough is wide enough or long enough. And it cleans up easily too! Much better than rolling dough out onto my counters or my table (last time I tried rolling dough on the table, the dough got full of splinters - had to throw it away).

  5. @Patricialynn-that is a totally awesome idea! My mom had a Tupperware version with circles printed on it to measure pie crust dough, but the newer ones don't seem to be a flexible...never thought of a DnD mat!

    I definitely want some plastic lids for my mason jars, still need a pastry cutter, a few good knives (I'm learning that it doesn't matter if they match and look pretty on the counter in a butcher's block if they don't cut worth a damn!) and an oil sprayer.

    I have recently fallen in love with Zyliss, a small kitchen gadget maker (Swedish? Swiss? one of those lol) The pizza cutter comes apart completely for cleaning, the veggie peeler actually peels vegetables (nice thin layers of peel instead of taking half a potato with each swipe), and the can opener doesn't hurt my wrists. Oh, and everything comes in awesome neon colors so you can find it in the drawer quickly!