A Year in Homemaking: Must Have Kitchen Basics {Week 29}

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I asked Rhonda Monks to write up a list of the items she deems “essential” for her kitchen. A lot of us ladies are just starting out with our own kitchens and I am sure we could use a few hints here and there. I hope you enjoy her post; I know I did. If you have any other “essentials” that you would add from your own list, we’d love to know in the comments below.


When Kendal sent me a note about writing a blog about kitchen essentials, I smiled! Not because I have great kitchen experience, but because I do not! With almost no experience in the kitchen, if I can come up with essentials, it will definitely be a beginner’s guide.

So first, the very necessary items …
A good pizza pan. I like the Pampered Chef stone, and a pizza cutter. Go ahead and laugh, but I believe one can live on pizza if they have to. I like to use a good frozen thin crust Margherita pizza, add some black olives, fresh mushrooms, and extra Colby cheese, bake until the top is golden and enjoy!

Okay, so a couple more necessary items to make that pizza work…
A good cutting board.
a can opener, 
good kitchen knives (I will get to those shortly), 
and a grater, usually the four sided one works just fine.
Olives can be drained and broken up by hand. The mushrooms should be cut with a knife, it is easier, and the cheese needs to be shredded.

You will see a bit of a trend here… We do a lot by hand. Okay, cookie dough goes into the big mixer, but I have not had the big mixer out for a year and a half. Trying to eat healthy overrides the desire to bake cookies.

Wüsthof Classic Chef and Paring Knife SetBack to knives…
These are absolutely essential.
A paring knife that fits your hand well, for little jobs like peeling apples.
A chef knife with a large blade. (I have actually learned some good knife skills from John, but he is the king of knife skills. Need chopped nuts for your cookies or brownies? No need for a food processor, just a good chef knife.)
A serrated bread knife; absolutely necessary for cutting angel food cake, and bread.
A couple steak knives … For the obvious reason … Eating steak!
And also a really strong pair of kitchen scissors. I didn’t know how useful they would be until we got them in a set of knives. I don’t know how we lived without them!

Moving along to a Monks household staple … Spaghetti.
Essential tool, Tupperware yellow colander, for draining pasta.
Other essential tools, two large pots, one for pasta and one for sauce, and a good wooden spoon.
Our grandchildren all started their first taste of non-milk or non-formula with John’s spaghetti sauce. With proper planning, spaghetti can last for several meals. Disposable Ziploc containers can be filled with leftover spaghetti, stacked and ready to go. Noodles, sauce, and some Colbyjack or parmesano reggiano cheese grated over the top can make for a great quick microwave meal.

Speaking of Ziploc, the bags are another essential tool! Marinating steaks and chicken, storing cheese and leftovers, and collecting corks from wine bottles are just some of the uses for these handy bags. I always have quart size on hand, for carrying liquids on the airplane. I also have gallon size on hand for the other uses mentioned. 

Here I have to give all the kudos to John. He is the cook in our house. Remember, cooking is art and baking is science. Cooking is a highly creative outlet and allows for everything to be done to taste. If it tastes good to you, then you have good food. If you like certain seasonings try them and taste them with different things. Use the things you like, you never know when you will hit on a combination of good things. John doesn’t use recipes. His favorite example of why: Someone tells you that they use five tomatoes, a white onion, a jalapeño, pepper, salt, and cilantro to make salsa, how do you know it will taste the same as the one your friend made? What size are the tomatoes and the onion? How juicy or meaty are the tomatoes? How flavorful is the onion? Cooking is an art … Taste as you go to get the flavor you want.

Baking is a “by the rules” project because it is based in science. Can you change up some flavors? Yes, but it is easy to make mistakes and have a flop because of the science aspect. That is where recipes really have an impact.

I am the most fortunate of wives, as I don’t have to use the pizza pan and pizza cutter very often. John is the cook, he knows what he is doing in the kitchen and he takes care of all the needs in our household for yummy food.

That said, if I have to take something somewhere and he can’t help, I rely on two things …
1. The Baptist church cookbook my aunt gave me and the other church cookbook I won in a silent auction as they always have the best recipes.
2. A boxed brownie mix with some added nuts and chocolate chips. (Chocolate is my favorite food group.) I guess a good baking pan is required here.

In summary, kitchen essentials/tools I cannot live without:
Pizza stone
Pizza cutter
Grater for cheese
Paring knife
Chef knife
Serrated bread knife
Steak knives
Kitchen scissors
Yellow Tupperware colander
Two big pots
Wooden spoon
Disposable Ziploc containers
Ziploc bags, gallon and quart size
Baptist church cookbook
Brownie pan

There are probably several things I have neglected to mention, but if I was told John would no longer be cooking for me and I had these tools, I could survive, though I usually tell him I would starve.


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