Michelle’s essentials

There are so many essentials in my kitchen…I don’t know where to begin! While I don’t use a lot of smaller gadgets, or things that I tend to refer to as “fussy”, I still have a list of things that make me happy and allow me to work efficiently in the kitchen. I love to cook, but I love to cook smart.

1. My absolute favorite necessity is my Santoku knife. Erik gave it to me for my first Mothers’ Day and by now it has a great deal of sentimental value. I also have a good paring knife – really, these knives, along with a good bread knife, are the knives I mainly use. Remember to keep your knives sharp! There is nothing more dangerous than dull knives. Plus, they’re just downright annoying.

2. My Kitchen Aid mixer is another favorite. My in-laws gave me this mixer almost 9 years ago and I still think of them fondly every time I use it. I can make bread, pizza dough etc. and it does the kneading for me! Not sure if you can tell from the photo, but it is a really awesome metallic black color – the official color name is “caviar”. I love it.

3. I also love to make soups and stews and have come to love my enameled cast iron Dutch oven. It is perfect for first sauteing then finishing off the soup. It is sturdy and heavy; one of the main workhorses in my kitchen.

4. Silpats are another essential, especially when it comes to baking. I can’t imagine baking cookies, bread (artisan), or even pizza without my Silpats.

5. I don’t use my Crockpots (yes, that’s right – plural) as much in the summer because by then we’re desperate for anything grilled and have grown tired of stew. But come winter, fall, and early spring, well my crockpots see some major action. I have one that I like to use for slow cooked soups and stews. Then I have one that is actually like a mini oven right on your counter and I love to use it for slow cooked roasts. It is especially great for making pulled pork, shredded beef or pork for tacos and burritos, and it makes the perfect pot roasts and roasted chicken because it will brown the outsides of the meat. And when I found my smaller crock pot that sits on a warming plate at a garage sale, I couldn’t pass it up. It is perfect for curried chicken, larger amounts of hot dips and chili. I have no idea why, but I always use it to make chili. Three might seem excessive, but they all get used a lot, and to me, they all have specific and very useful purposes.

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