I was recently reading a food website that posed the question “What one kitchen item would you splurge for?” The people responding gave a variety of answers, such as good knives, a KitchenAid mixer or VitaMix blender, a Le Creuset Dutch oven, All Clad pots, etc. It got me thinking about the things in my kitchen I use the most, and what I would have a hard time living without.
I have lived and worked in 18 different kitchens, and, as I get older, I find that I use the same things over and over again. Surprisingly, when I think about the items I use on a daily basis, a few things like the KitchenAid are upper end appliances, but most of what I regularly use are not expensive things. They are simple and utilitarian items, such as my Oxo peeler, which I use everyday, or half-sheet baking pans, which I use all the time for roasting vegetables and meat, broiling crostini or bell peppers, and baking cookies and pastries. I also use mason jars regularly, to store my herbs, spices, homemade stock, and soups, and to freeze dips, sauces, and leftovers in as well. I can’t have a kitchen without them. For the majority of my life, until fairly recently, either our circumstances or the fact that we were living abroad meant that I cooked in a much more limited environment. This has taught me that, sometimes, the most ill-equipped kitchen can pose the best cooking challenge, and we often ate better because I wanted to make the most of it.
I have also learned that, occasionally, it isn’t a particular tool or appliance I miss most, but rather a beloved food product that is no longer available, one I have to figure out how to make do without. Since Christmas I haven’t had my weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, and I have missed it. Their mixed greens and fresh spinach were the most flavorful I have ever eaten, and I found myself trying out new vegetables as well, such as sorrel and rutabaga. I looked forward to each week’s new offerings, and since it has been two months without farm fresh food, I am anxious for the spring season to begin and the farm shares to resume. Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to enhance the variety of foods you eat and, since you are eating food that is fresh and retains more of the vitamin content because it isn’t stored during travel, it is also better for you. Until fairly recently joining a CSA whose farm was located in our town was not an option, but things are changing. Local readers (central Utah) may want to check out the CSA I belong to, La Nay Ferme, or even take a peek at a recent video to learn more. If you are outside this area, a quick Google search should help you locate a CSA option near you.
As I helped my husband start his favorite spicy pepper seeds indoors last night, the thought occurred to me that the best equipped kitchens begin with the best possible ingredients, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. The rest is up to the cook.