There are few places that I feel more comfortable and creative than in the kitchen. The kitchen is the birthplace of creativity that comes out to the table. The table is where families are fed, children grow and flourish. In order to be creative here and give life to my family, I do need some help: I have my own essentials. Consider this post your short introduction to these products–you will see them again! Here are the 7 that come to my mind quickly when I think of daily productivity in my kitchen:
1. Coconut oil: What a fantastic gift to all things cooking! Coconut oil is a daily staple for me. I use it in almost every dish I cook, to season my pans, and sometimes even as a spoonful to eat plain. It melts in your hands easily but stays solid as long as it is less than 76 degrees the house. It can be used as a base for almost any health/beauty product and it tastes AMAZING!
2. Cast iron pans: Anything on the stovetop at my house goes in cast iron. For years I was happy with my calphalon pans because, well, they clean easy! They definitely do, but over time the plastic can get into the food as you cook—no thanks! Cast iron gives food a delicious, earthy taste and is a much healthier alternative. It stays hotter longer and actually increases your iron intake, go figure! We only wash our pans with hot water and use a scraper to remove excess food. Season with coconut oil (see above!) or grape seed oil. In time, your pans will be as easy to clean as any others in your cupboards.
3. Vitamix: Smoothies are just the beginning! A high-powered blender, like the Vitamix is costly up-front, but 100% worth it for the quality of food you can make. I use it to make homemade hummus, nut-butters, bulletproof coffee, dips, paleo tortillas, soups, pesto…the list goes on and on. If you are interested in making body-butters or other products with coconut oil, this machine is also your friend. Many of my best recipes incorporate this lovely kitchen essential.
4. Spices: No kitchen is complete without a good variety of spices. Adding the right spice to a dish can be what sets it apart from an average meal to an extraordinary one. I have found that not all spices are created equal. Most of my cupboard is filled with Penzey’s Spice. They do a fantastic job and specialize in spices alone. You can also find high quality spices at the grocery store. Be prepared to pay a bit more for a quality spice–trust me, it will be noticeably better for you and for your favorite dishes!
5. Essential oils: While I’m in the kitchen, I like to create a calm, inviting atmosphere. I have several ingestible oils that can be added to drinks or even to my red sauce to give flavor and health benefits. Cooking with oils is amazing, but we all know how much less inviting the smell of our kitchen can be AFTER the meal is finished and the dishes have piled up. At this point, I love using my essential oils in a diffuser to create that clean, sweet-smelling environment for me and my family (trust me–I need it, we live in only 600 sq. ft!). Like spices, not all oils are created equal, and again, you pay for the quality that you get. I buy and sell Young Living oils and products and love that the company guarantees the oils to be pure from Seed to Seal (in the ground–to a sealed container). I also use my oils to make a variety of homemade products (deodorant, toothpaste, body-butter, bug-spray, etc.) and love how our quality of life has improved!
6. Red wine: My husband says “we need whiskey to warm the heart and wine to gladden it”. He’s definitely right about both! Red wine, specifically is a staple in my kitchen for some of my favorite dishes. A full-bodied red such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot adds depth to a red sauce (I will be giving my recipe soon!) for chicken parmesan or can be added to a mushroom reduction sauce over steak. What I love about using red-wine is that it makes so many dishes taste better, and it is lovely to sip on as you cook and to pair with the evening meal.
7. French press: Our morning routine is not complete without the use of the French press. For my husband’s birthday last year, I splurged on a top-of-the-line double-walled, stainless steel press. Coffee is like water at our house, but we definitely do not drink it watered down! We enjoy dark, organic French Roast coffee and we grind it fresh every morning. The stainless steel French press makes coffee taste richer and more robust. Since no plastic is involved, like in most regular coffee pots, you can guarantee a better and safer method of brewing. If you are more of a fan of loose-leaf tea, this is also a fantastic brewing method!
Remember, this is my short list. I have many more kitchen items I love and use regularly. I use these 7 essentials daily or almost daily. What are some of your kitchen essentials?