My Favorite Kitchen Accessories

favorite-kitchen-accessories

It is amazing, to me, how many wood shops are supplied with the best of tools and equipment but how many kitchens are left bare with only the minimum of necessities. It is time for each chef to be able to have the finest of gadgets, as well. Here are some of My Favorite Kitchen Accessories:

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Knives & Peelers

The basic tools for every chef are knives and Peelers. It is good to invest in good knives that will be good for both cooking and for making salads. Stainless steel knives don’t work well for salad making since they tend to make raw foods turn brown more quickly. The best knives and peelers, in my opinion, are the ceramic. They aren’t cheap, but they will last a long time if you only use them on wood or plastic cutting boards. The most reasonable place I have found them is online at Walmart. I have an 8”, a 5” and a 3” as well as a ceramic peeler which works wonderfully.

Meat Cleaver

A meat cleaver is great for hacking open young Thai coconuts to get out that creamy yummy coconut meat as well as to get that delicious coconut water. You can get a really nice stainless steel one for just $17 online at Walmart.

Cutting Boards

When you get a cutting board, be sure to get one that is either wood or plastic. Glass ones are not good for your ceramic knives and even with steel knives, they don’t work well. I like to always keep my cutting boards clean by bleaching them.

Pots and Pans

As long as your pots and pans are stainless steel and have a heavy bottom on them, they work great. You can get them for a real reasonable price at Walmart. Never get the Teflon coated pans since they are toxic with aluminum that can get into your food. Cooking with Aluminum has been contributed to Alzheimer’s.

Bowls

Wood, glass and ceramic bowls are a great addition to any kitchen. But huge plastic mixing bowls can be great to use, too, especially when washing and rinsing veggies in a steel sink. It is very useful to have a huge pitcher bowl, as well, since many times you will need to pour items through a large spout. These can just be found at Walmart.

Be sure to have a huge 3 to 5 gallon sized bowl for mixing large quantities. You can get these at restaurant supply stores. I use mine nearly every day for making large quantities of veggie and fruit salad or for making large quantities to put in my dehydrator for drying.

Blenders

There are two blenders that are the toughies of all blenders: The VitaMix and the Blendtec. I currently have the BlendTec and my sister has the VitaMix. They are both great machines with strong motors, but are good for different things. The Blendtec does not have a pusher and will blend everything smoothly on its own. It is also easier to clean, since it only has two blades whereas the Vitamix has four. But the Vitamix is nice because you are able to use the pusher to blend those really thick smoothies better and you are able to put nuts in last minute to have that really thick smoothie with nuts. The Blendtec also sometimes has bearings problems when you blend things that make the smoothie too thick. But Blendtec has been really good about replacing the blender jar when this happens. I have had my Blendtec for years and I love it.

There is a new blender, called the Bullet, that a lot of people enjoy. This blender you put in the ingredients into the blender jar and screw on the lid, then you turn it upside down and it blends everything. Many raw foodists seem to like this blender.

The cheapest place I have been able to find these blenders is at Costco when the manufacturers agents are demonstrating them. You can call up your nearest Costco and they will let you know where and when their next demo will be.

Food Processors

A food processor will save you a lot of time in chopping, mincing, grating and slicing. It can also be used to mix things together. I have found that the Cuisinart Custom Prep II works really well for all of my needs. It has safety features which prevent the possibility of injury which is really nice. I found that Costco has the best price on these when you use their coupon.

Mixers

A mixer that will be with you for a lifetime is the Bosch. It is great for mixing all kinds of things. I used to use it to make cookie dough and bread. Now that I don’t use grains anymore, I will have to reinvent what to use it for. But I have had this mixer for 28 years and used it constantly except for the last couple of years and it has never had any mechanical issues. I would recommend the Bosch to anyone who would like the best of the best of mixers. You will need to purchase a Bosch at a Bosch dealer.

Beaters

The beater that I love the most is actually a hand beater (a wire whip). It is the beater that has a spiral wire at the end that goes around and around until it meets a handle. You will need to find this type of beater at a kitchen supply store such as Bed/Bath and Beyond.

I have electric beaters, too, but it is many times just faster to grab the wire whip.

Electric Carving Knife

Not only is this knife great for carving turkeys at Thanksgiving, but these knives are the best for slicing bread. They are really inexpensive, too. You can pick them up at Walmart for under $15.

Sprouters

For sprouting, I have found that the 2 quart Mason/Ball jars work the best. You should be able to pick these up at your local restaurant supply store.

You don’t need any fancy sprouters, but you can buy plastic sprouting jar lids (from Texas Best Unlimited, Sprout Ease Econo-Sprouter Toppers) that have different grid sizes on the tops. They come in yellow, red and green. You just place 2 Tablespoons of your favorite sprouting seeds in the jar. Soak them in water for 12 hours. Place on the sprouting lid and drain out the water. You leave the lid on and fill up the jar with water and drain it twice a day. It is really simple. In about 3 – 5 days you will have beautiful sprouts that you can use in salads or on sandwiches.

Spiralizers

Spiralizers work great for making raw veggie noodles. Most people use zucchini, but you can use carrots and other hard veggies, as well. The one I use is the Japanese Saladacco. It makes both wide and angel hair veggie pasta.

Mandolin

A mandolin, not only slices, but it also juliennes, which is a real time saver. The one I have is from Japan, but there are many online on Amazon and other websites.

Juicers

There are juicers for different purposes and it really helps to have the right juicers for the needs that you have. I have 4 juicers.

A citrus juicer is used to juice such things as limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, etc. It is so nice to have one that is basically a citrus press. The one I have is a Stainless Steel ARAMCO Manual Lever Press Citrus Juicer. It is quick at juicing as well as simple to clean as long as you clean it immediately after each use.

For greens, stringy veggies and grapes, I like to use a slow extracting juicer. Before getting this juicer I looked for one that not only got the most juice possible out of greens, but one that had slow RPMS and one that was easy to clean. The best one I found for this purpose is the Omega 8004. There is also an 8006 but the 8006 is a lot more pricey than the 8004 and the only difference is the color. The 8004 is white and the 8006 is a chrome color. Now you don’t want an 8003 since it has major differences in the actual machine and its capabilities. The cheapest place I have found to get this juicer and many other kitchen equipment items is discountjuicers.com. This juicer runs about $250.

For Carrots, apples and other firm produce, I love the Norwalk. It is based on a two process system. You first make the pulp, then you put it through a hydraulic press.

The grinder masticates the veggies into really small pieces, breaking every cell of the plant’s structure. You catch this pulp in a bowl. Then you take a big scoop of the pulp and wrap it in a pressing cloth and press the juice from the pulp. This process gets the pulp so dry that it is like a hard pressed patty.

I don’t like to waste juice with the wet pulp that other juicers leave. So I will even take the pulp that I make from my green juicer and put it with the pulp from my Norwalk juicer to get that final squeeze of juice out of it.

I know this Norwalk is a very pricey juicer, but it will last a lifetime. The new price is about $2500. But you should be able to find a used one for under $1000. When I found mine, I got a great deal on it used for just $50. It is most likely a 1960’s model or so. The hydraulic press was not working and one of the steel bands of the press had been broken. But we were able to fix the hydraulic seal that had been worn out and we were able to take the steel band and have it welded back together. I have now been using it for over 20 years and have not had a problem with it since.

But if you can’t afford the price of a Norwalk, you can always buy a separate press, from discountjuicers.com, that you can use to press your pulp from the juicer that you currently have.

The last juicer I have is the Champion. I use it primarily for the blank plate function and make almond butter, raw ice-cream, etc. It is a great machine, but it does not get pulp from veggies as dry as I would like.

But whatever you do, do not get a centrifugal force style juicer. They heat up the juice too much which kills the enzymes and they are quite difficult to clean.

Dehydrators

The best dehydrator on the market is the Excalibur 9-Tray model. It is a time saver since you do not have to rotate trays. I have made all kinds of goodies from fruit leather to granola bars. I liked this dehydrator so much that I bought two. It is great to dehydrate garden produce and make your own sun-dried tomatoes or kale chips.

Refrigerators

Every chef should have more than 1 refrigerator. The top of the line are the Frigidaire. They are low maintenance and are great Fridges. I was able to get my 2nd one used for just $150 on Craigslist. And it was just 5 years old. It had only been used for drinks in the previous owner’s garage.

Freezers

It is important to have a large extra freezer. I prefer the chest freezers since they hold the cool air a lot better than an upright. You will want to make sure that the door closes securely so that you do not get ice build-up. It is nice to be able to have a large freezer to store your garden seeds, your bananas as they become ripe (for smoothies) and any extra garden produce.

Conclusion

It is important for every chef to have tools that make their job as easy and enjoyable as possible. So it is a good idea to make it a priority to find the best tools and equipment for the best price.

 

About Julie

A loan officer of 15 years, a gardener of 40 years, raised on a 1200 acre ranch raising 300 head of sheep. Creative and intuitive, she envisions beauty and makes it a reality whether with sewing, cooking, knitting on her knitting machine, in her home or in the garden. She is blessed to live with her best friend as her husband and she has always felt as one with God, nature and with animals and would turn to the mountains for strength and now lives her life, totally content in the Rockies at 8700 elevation.
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