I think anyone can do anything so long as they have the right tools. These are the tools I find indispensable. I used every one of them in making of the food you’ll find here. I like to buy something once whenever possible. That means saving up because some of these are expensive, but I think they pay for themselves pretty quickly if you are dedicated to cooking on a regular basis.
Crock Pot (Slow Cooker)
I have two. One is over 20 years old and was a wedding present and the other is larger for seriously big chunks of meat. Both are by Rival and I use them constantly.
This one is by Braun and is one of my most indispensable tools. I use it when I want to make a small amount of pesto or salad dressing. When I want to puree a soup, I use the immersion attachment straight in the pot.
I just bought an Oster, Professional Series that I really like. It grinds ice no problem and Oster for blenders is a great bet.
I remember when we didn’t even call them food processors, but simply Cuisinarts – a name synonymous with the machine. Mine is almost 15 years old and going strong.
My most favorite gadget. It makes perfect soft, medium and hard cooked eggs and it turns off automatically. Cuisinart is the brand.
Aside from your hands, these are a cooks best tool. I’ve been using Wustof and Henckels for years. They are forged, which I like and offer a life-time warranty. I like a few chef knives (8, 10 or 12″), a good serrated bread knife and several paring knives, to start.
I’ve had this KitchenAid for almost 20 years and it’s still chugging along. I wouldn’t consider any other brand and replacement parts and attachment parts are readily available.
Ice Cream Scooper
Use this for perfectly formed cupcakes and muffins, every time. They come in many sizes – get the ice cream size for cupcakes and fill the scooper just shy of the top. I got mine at Williams-Sonoma.
There is a perfect tool for every job and there is no easier way to frost a cake or cupcakes than with this little spatula. Mine is made by Wilton and you can get them at Michael’s Craft stores or online at Wilton.
This is perfect for braising in the oven, or for those stews and sauces that simmer for hours on the stove. This is is from Le Cruset and it’s expensive, but if you get it, you’ll use it for the rest of your life. Another lifetime warranty product. If you want to find a more affordable option, the home section of places like Marshalls and Tuesday Morning have other brand names that will do the trick. And don’t forget about those 20% off coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond.
Cast Iron Pans
I got this set for a wedding present. Now, all these years later, they have that black patina, the look of a well-seasoned cast iron pan. If you have an old set, there is a specific way to season them (fill them 1/4″ with cooking oil and put them in a 200 degree oven for an hour – don’t reuse oil), but if you buy them new, most cast iron pans are already seasoned. Never use soap when you wash them! Just wipe them out and scrape with a spatula if needed, rinsing with a small amount of water. Oil them lightly when you put them away to maintain that no-stick quality. These pans provide one of the healthiest surfaces for cooking.
Muffin Pans and Cooling Rack
I’ve tried and tried to get this pan looking clean, but after 50 years of use, I think this is just what it’s going to look like! I have 2 sets of each pan, so I can bake two dozen cupcakes or muffins at a time. Mirro made this one and it was made in the United States – something of a rarity these days. These cooling racks are a wonderful way to evenly cool cookies, muffins and cake layers.
Mini Muffin Pan
I am on a constant quest for less sugar, so I bought two of these pans. My kids love these bite-sized treats. I got mine at Walmart online, made by Wilton.
There is a difference between wet and dry measuring utensils. For the wet, I use Pyrex in the 1, 2, 4, and 8-cup sizes. For dry measuring, I use the stainless steel cups and spoons from Crate & Barrel or Williams Sonoma.