Whether you're stocking your kitchen as a first-time mom or want to develop your cooking and baking skills as your family grows, you'll find that there are certain cooking utensils you won't want to do without. These basics make cooking easier and the end result, better. They're also tools that need no instruction manual, as they are simple to use. Sometimes a quick tip or two is all you'll need to get the maximum use out of your collection of easy cooking utensils.
Cutting and Grating
Many professional chefs will tell you that her most important tool is a good, sharp knife. This is true for the home cook as well. Invest in a good set of knives that includes a butcher knife, carving knife, paring knife, boning knife, bread knife, cleaver and utility knife. A basic cheese grater is also a must, as you can use it to shred just about anything, and it is much less messy to use than a food processor.
Measuring and Timing
Successful cooking and baking involves using the right ingredients in the right proportions. This means you'll need a collection of simple measuring instruments. Arm yourself with a set of dry measuring cups, a glass liquid measuring cup in 1- or 2-pint size and measuring spoons. Eventually, you may want to add a kitchen scale to your collection for weighing meats and fish. Don't forget about measuring time -- get yourself a basic timer. You'll also need an oven thermometer for many types of cooking and baking, as well as a meat thermometer. Another handy tool to stick on your refrigerator with a magnet is a list of basic measurement equivalencies. This is helpful when you start changing portion sizes for recipes to account for your growing family.
No kitchen should be without basic mixing tools. Purchase mixing bowls of varying sizes and mixing spoons. Make sure at least some of your mixing spoons are wooden or plastic so you can stir food in nonstick pans. Metal spoons have a smaller point than wooden or plastic spoons, meaning it touches less of the surface of the pan and puts your food at risk of burning. You'll also want to get whisks, tongs, a slotted spoon and spatulas. While it may not qualify as "easy," you'll also want to get some sort of electric mixer, either a hand-held one or a blender.
Washing and Prepping
Even the most basic cook needs a colander for draining spaghetti and boiled vegetables. You can also use it to wash your fresh produce. However, some people swear by salad spinners as a quick and easy way to get lettuce and other greens clean. You'll also want to get a vegetable peeler, as it is much easier to use than a paring knife for such tasks as peeling carrots, potatoes and other vegetables.
- Kitchen Utensils; Philip V. Brooks; 2004
- The Cook's Essential Kitchen Dictionary: A Complete Culinary Resource; Jacques Rolland; 2004
- Barilla: The Italian Kitchen Basic Tools
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