Over the years, Jeff and I have built up a fairly well stocked kitchen, tool wise. Here are my favorite, most essential tools. I've narrowed the list based on how often we use them (usually more than twice a week) and how much easier they make my life.
Braun Hand Blender- Jeff bought this several years ago, and we haven't used our regular blender since. In fact, I recently gave it away to a friend. We use the immersion attachment for smoothies and soups and refried beans. And we use the blender/ chopper attachments for sauces, marinades, salad dressings and even baby food. Jenny bought the Cuisinart version of this and was pretty disappointed with it because it just doesn't get things as smooth as ours does (though it does look sleek in that stainless steel way). The link above is for the model that is almost the exact one that we own, but according to the Amazon description it seems to be missing the larger blender/chopping bowl. Although, the pictures on the front of the stick show all the correct attachments. I've also read great reviews of the KitchenAid® version, but it's more pricey. We use this almost daily.
Added Note- I just checked the price on this thing on Amazon, and it has quadrupled since I posted this (was originally like 60 bucks, now it's $250). Not sure what's going on there. It looks like the Kitchen Aid version is much cheaper right now.
Rasp from Lee Valley- This was one of the first "high end" kitchen accessories that we ever bought. At least it seemed high end at the time (20 bucks from Lee Valley, a company that I adore). I love this thing. We use it for citrus zest, and ginger and Parmesan. It's crucial if you want to grate whole nutmeg. And it practically liquefies garlic. Just watch your fingers; I've grated fingernails into dinner on more than one occasion (though that usually only happens when I'm drinking and cooking at the same time).
Fagor 2-by-1 Pressure Cooker Set- This is the exact model that we own and it comes with two different sized pans and a pasta/steamer basket. However, this version (Fagor 10-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner) contains just one of the cookers and looks to be about 40 bucks cheaper. Before we bought our pressure cooker, we discussed the pros (quick cooking means less energy and less of our time) and cons (price and storage space) for months. One day, Jeff just returned from errands with one, ending the debate. We've used it almost once a week (sometimes much more) ever since. It makes an amazing pot roast (never dry) and can cook a whole chicken in about half an hour. We use it for stocks and stews and beans and curries and even rice (because we cook our rice like pasta and drain off the water). We use it lots in the winter, but it's also fantastic in the summer. It doesn't heat the kitchen up much because once it gets up to pressure, you set the stove to a fairly low temperature. And, because everything is trapped within, it doesn't put out as much heat as regular methods. Also, you can actually turn the stove off about 10 or 15 minutes before it's done cooking, and let the pressure come down naturally (or conversely, take it outside and release the pressure there, so the heat is outside your house, not in). It's because of this that Fagor participates in the Energy Star program.
Good Set of Knives- We have two kinds... Global and (somewhat surprisingly) Cutco. When Jeff first bought the Globals, I was terrified of using them. I'd used dull knives (which need a good amount of pressure in order to cut anything) my entire life and was terrified I'd chop my finger off. Then I cut potatoes with them and I almost squealed with excitement. If you keep them sharp, they will serve you well and make preparing food so much easier (and quicker).
So, tell me, what tools can you absolutely not live without?
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