By Chantal Ireland
We all have those gadgets that seemed like a good idea at the time — I’m looking at your avocado slicer — and then there are those essential tools we just can’t imagine being without. In my kitchen it’s two Le Creuset pieces; a mid-sized Dutch oven, and a braiser. From soups to roast chickens, frittatas, curry and countless winter stews, these are my work horses. An All-Clad Copper Core fry pan does almost everything else. Eggs, sautéing vegetables and perfect grilled cheese sandwiches are the regulars. Two years ago I invested in a Vitamax, they really are exceptional. Soups, ice cream, nut butters, smoothies and a whole cookbook full of things I haven’t even gotten to yet. I acquired these over about ten years, and they are all as good as new and very much worth their initial investment. A Kitchen Aid Mixer my parents gave me for Christmas turns out perfect buttercream frosting for birthday cakes all year long. Then there’s the vintage waffle iron, because those small squares are where it’s at.
The best $20 I’ve spent on a kitchen tool is a fish spatula. A very thin and flexible long metal spatula with a wooden handle, it’s made in France and I use it for omelettes, fish, cookies and everything I can. A kitchen scale is essential for baking, a real baker would tell you it’s to keep consistency, but really it’s to reduce the amount of dishes you need to wash. One great knife, and a large heavy wooden cutting board round out most of the small but well assembled gear set up in my kitchen. In Broadmead Village, wander through Penna & Co., a family owned kitchen store. They have a great selection of gear for baking, cooking, and dining. With linens, galssware, cookware and more, you’ll get a warm welcome and great service. My general rule is to avoid things that do one very infrequent job, and keep my kitchen uncluttered, but it took me a long time to learn that.