Equipping your kitchen
Equipping your kitchen
There’s nothing I like more than settling down with a cup of tea and the Lakeland catalogue of an evening. It truly is a treasure trove of delights, and within a few minutes I can convince myself that I really NEED a tray specifically for the soaking of oven racks or a cake tin in the shape of the Millenium Falcon!
Whilst I love a gadget as much as the next person, it’s not necessary to spend a fortune. There are lots of things that I don’t spend a lot of money on – my pans are pretty basic, as are my knives. My veg peeler was a wedding present 16 years ago. I don’t have a bread maker or an expensive coffee machine. There are some things I use all the time though – here are the essentials that I find make cooking from scratch easier.
A stick blender
I’ve got this one from Kenwood and I use it all the time. The usual attachment is great for pureeing fruit or making smoothies (as long as you’re not using frozen ingredients), and it comes with a wider blade which is perfect for blending soup in the pan as there’s less splashing. The mini chopper is great for making small amounts of breadcrumbs or whipping up something like a quick pesto or curry paste. There is also a whisk attachment and a mashing gizmo, which isn’t strictly necessary, but does make excellent mashed sweet potato. I use this practically every day, if I could only have one electrical item, it would definitely be this one!
A knife sharpener
I don’t have very expensive or flash knives, but I did invest about £12 in a knife sharpener last year and it’s been something of a revelation. Not only does it make chopping a lot quicker, it’s also safer as a sharp knife is less likely to slip.
Again, this wasn’t very expensive, but is great for things like stir fries as you can finely slice veg in moments. Always use the guard, fingers slices don’t taste so good!
I wouldn’t bother with an electric steamer. I was lent one last year, but only used it about twice, it was too much of a faff and big to store. I recently invested in a simple stove top steamer – like a pan with two baskets that go over the top so you can steam quite a lot at once. It stacks up to store and means you can more or less cook a meal on one ring on the hob, so it’s economical as well as preserving more vitamins in the veg (you’re not tipping away the water!).
If you’ve got the money/space, then this is definitely a good investment. It’s really quick and easy to make things like cauliflower rice or pancake batter, and you can use the grater attachment to make short work of veg for stir fries or coleslaw. One with a blender attachment is also useful for making soups and smoothies and saves having an extra gadget.
I have both, although I use my spiraliser more. It makes quick and easy work of courgettes and sweet potatoes, whilst the peeler is a bit more fiddly. Much cheaper and takes up less room though! I sometimes substitute starchy carbs (pasta, chips) with veg alternatives (courgette spaghetti, sweet potato curly “fries”) and the spiraliser comes in handy here.
Another small and inexpensive gadget that I use constantly. I use a lot of fresh ginger in my cooking (top tip: cut a big piece into chunks and freeze, then you’ve always got it handy and it’s easier to peel and grate when it’s hard), but it’s also great for zesting fruit, grating parmesan or using for garlic.
I have too many of these, but if you’re going to prep in advance, freeze stuff and cart things into work, then you’re going to need some! There are lots of options these days, including glass and stainless steel if you’re concerned about plastic.
This is in no way essential, but I couldn’t resist mentioning it because I LOVE it. It makes soup and smoothies really, well, smooth, deals with ice and nuts easily and can make ice cream out of frozen bananas in about 25 seconds. Oh, and it practically washes itself up too.