My Top 20 Kitchen Essentials

Happy 2013 everybody!! I started my year off right with blueberry pancakes, fresh juice, and some cozy time off with Tim. We even had a few teeny tiny snowflakes fall from the sky on New Year’s Eve. Brrr…

Recently I’ve seen fellow bloggers post lists of their favorite kitchen essentials. I thought it would be fun to share my own list. Most of these items are used daily in my kitchen.

1.  Tahini – Big surprise, huh? Tahini contains calcium and is wonderful in both savory and sweet recipes. I absolutely love this tahini-miso sauce for rice bowls, sweet potatoes, and pasta. It is simple to make and very, very addictive! If you make your own tahini at home it is much less expensive than jarred varieties at the store.

2. VitaMix – High-speed blenders are a worthwhile investment. You can expertly blend cashews to the smoothest consistency imaginable, create delicious smoothies/juices, puree soups, and even grind whole grains into flour! We use Vity (yes, we name our appliances) so much that he resides on our kitchen table.

3. Garlic – Where would I be without garlic? Even when recipes don’t call for it, I add some anyway. It heightens flavor and smells amazing. Plus, it wards off evil…

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4. Bamboo spatula - We have a bamboo spatula that has lasted us almost a decade. It is great for stir-frys, flipping veggie burgers, and anything cooked in a cast iron pan. Tim would cry if we didn’t have one.

5. Rice cooker - Making rice the old-fashioned way on the stovetop is fine, but using a rice cooker means you can scoot about doing other things at the same time. We have a small Cuisinart rice cooker that never fails – perfect, fluffy rice every time. It works well with other grains too.

6. Kale – Two bunches of kale reside in my fridge after each weekly shopping trip. Most often it goes into bowl meals or massaged salads, but we make kale chips too. The curly variety is my favorite.

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7. Quinoa - Go ahead, ask me where I get my protein! It’s quick to make and a reliable way to keep my tummy full.

8. Oats – We eat a lot of granola. Most likely because oats are affordable, nourishing, and delicious. Sometimes I will make granola bars.

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9. Chef’s knife – Life without our 8″ chef’s knife wouldn’t be complete. It is the best for chopping, mincing, dicing, slicing, you name it. A quality knife will last you a long time if you sharpen it regularly and store it properly.

10. Avocados – It’s too bad the Pacific Northwest doesn’t have the appropriate climate for growing avocados because I would plant a tree in my apartment. I eat them like most people use their smarty phones (translation: ALL the time). Luckily I don’t have a dumb smarty phone or I’d never have time to eat avocados.

11. Wire whisk – A simple little tool that makes a world of difference in my kitchen = the whisk. It’s great for smoothing sauces, combining dry ingredients, and making the best hot cocoa you can imagine. A good whisk or two should be mandatory in every kitchen.

12. Fresh ginger – Ginger is one of the best scented creations of all time. We use fresh ginger in juice, stir-frys, sauces, tea, and cookies. It keeps well in the fridge, so stock up!

13. Cast iron pan – Our cast iron pan lives on the stovetop because it gets used every single day. We love it for caramelizing onions, making charred BBQ soy curls, heating tortillas, simmering feijoada, and so much more. One pan will definitely last you a lifetime unless you are silly and ruin it by putting it in the dishwasher.

14. Apple cider vinegar - The pure, organic, unfiltered variety is best. Most commonly, I add apple cider vinegar to savory sauces and cakes. It is rich in enzymes and potassium.

15. Sweet potatoes - Baked, roasted, mashed, steamed, pureed…

16. Cashews – The ultimate nut for making creamy sauces, awesome vegan cheeses, and  non-dairy sour cream for burritos. I know they are crazy expensive, but sometimes a splurge is okay.

17. Silicone baking mats - Eliminate having to use parchment paper with handy, reusable silicone baking mats. My first set lasted about 9 years. Tim was sweet and got me a new set for Christmas. They will be well-loved.

18. Chocolate – Don’t even get me started! We love, love, love chocolate. I have to hide chocolate chips from Tim because he will eat them all before I can bake with them. It is important to buy organic, fair trade whenever possible. Please click the link to learn why.

19. Nutritional yeast - The most magical vegan pantry staple in the universe!!! Get your B-12, cheesy flavor goodness! I eat it with a spoon on occasion. And, you will NEVER catch me referring to nutritional yeast as nooch (except right now). I hate that word.

20. Smoked salt – Fancypants salt is always fun to have on hand. The smoked variety is wonderful for soups, stews, beans, chili, homemade cheeses, sauces, and whatever else you create. A little goes a long way too.

So there you have it! I encourage you to write about your kitchen essentials too. It’s so fun to learn about what we all love. Plus, it’s nice to try new things.

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35 thoughts on “My Top 20 Kitchen Essentials

  1. I loved that you mentioned your rice cooker! I use mine many days a week for rice, rice and lentils, and any number of awesome hearty dishes. And you’re right – why waste stove space??

  2. I love your list. It’s very similar to what mine would be. Maybe I’ll have to jump on the trend :)

    Tahini totally deserves the #1 spot. I put it in/on everything. Lately I’ve been putting it in my green smoothies and it’s so wonderful. Vitamix, sweet potatoes, kale… yes, yes, yes. Quinoa, yes. All things I wouldn’t want to live without.

    I’ve been thinking about a cast iron pan for the reasons you’ve listed (namely, soy curls). I’ve never owned one and feel a little intimidated about how to care for it. I think the one time I cooked with one everything stuck to the bottom and I assumed it was because I was doing something wrong. Maybe I’ll add this to my “learn to do” in 2013 list.

    Hope your new year is off to a great start! :)

    • You should make a list too. I’d love to see more of your favorite kitchen essentials.

      I’ve never tried tahini in a green smoothie – thank you for the wonderful idea!!

      Don’t be intimidated by cast iron pans. I suggest a 10″ skillet. It’s a nice size for two people and it’s very manageable when it comes to lifting/putting away/cleaning. My first experience with cast iron was terrible! It definitely takes some practice and patience. The best tip I can offer is to use a gentle hand when cleaning. Tim tends to scrub the surface way too much and that takes away all the seasoning (that’s why I don’t let him clean our cast iron anymore!). Hot water and a dish brush work well. I hope you will try again this year – soy curls and cast iron are the best of friends!

      • These are such good tips about cast iron! I WANT to love cast iron. Plus, I can imagine how great it would be for Soy Curls. I bought one once and ruined it the same way as Tim. I felt like it took so much babying with the oiling and cooking the oil off on the stove. Maybe I was making it too complicated…

        Have you thought about doing a step-by-step post on taking care of cast iron? My husband wouldn’t know what to do with me if I bought another one after my failure the first time, but maybe you could show me the way! :)

  3. Oh, yay!! I love it that you made a list too. I need to link to everyone who is making lists on my blog. It’s such fun to read about other people’s favorites, and then kick myself that I forgot to add them! I can’t believe I forgot nutritional yeast!! It’s an essential for sure. I came very close to adding smoked salt. I adore it too.

    I didn’t put any kitchen gadgets on my list, because I was having a hard enough time just limiting the foodstuffs. However, I think I’ll have to make another list that’s just for gadgetry, because the Vitamix is too wonderful to not get a mention.

    • Thanks for the link, Cadry. I had a hard time excluding certain items and nearly forgot nutritional yeast (I had to do a walk around my kitchen to be reminded)! You should definitely make a gadget list because I would love to see your favorites.

  4. Pingback: My 25 Kitchen Essentials | Cadry's Kitchen

  5. Ooooh what a great list!! I think I may have to follow suit and make a list too! I am so with you on a lot of these items, especially avocado! OMG yum, I LOVE avocado! Oats and sweet potatoes too. Mmmm :)

  6. Ohhh, I’ve been dying for a good knife recently. They are SO worth it. Almost verything else on yr list is a must-have for me too… I’ve got a sweet potato baking in the oven right now, and two avocados ripening on my desk. Simple pleasures :)

  7. “Luckily I don’t have a dumb smarty phone or I’d never have time to eat avocados.” HA! :) I could totally picture you saying that…and me, as well. Avocados FTW!
    I love that oats made your list. People don’t give them enough credit!! You have to think BEYOND the boring everyday porridge! I go through a bulk canister of those lovely flattened grains every month, and happen to enjoy very exciting, delicious breakfasts. :)

    • Ha! I thought I was the only person without a smart phone… Nice to know I am in good company. Avocados are much better anyways. :)

      Oats disappear quickly from my pantry too! And I agree, they don’t get enough credit.

  8. Thanks so much for the visit and comment! I’m going to link you to my sidebar so I can visit you often! It does look like we have LOTS in common! I do LOVE your blog!!!!

  9. What a great list! All of those items make my own list, too – except a VitaMix. We use our rice cooker every single day – just as often for quinoa and millet as for rice, and once in a great while for overnight steel cut oats (but my 2-qt slow cooker gets that job done most nights).

    Someday I *will* get a VitaMix, probably as a celebratory splurge when I get around to starting law school (animal law, of course!).

    Also, I never never never say “nooch” – although I will occasionally write “nutch” for some reason.

  10. Your list is very similar to what mine would be, besides for the rice cooker and bamboo spatula. I just got a Vitamix and I’ve been using it everyday, I can’t get over what a difference there is between my old blender and this one, crazy. I recently discovered smoked salt and I looove it. I think I would have to add peanut butter to my list, I just can’t live without the stuff, oh, and apples…I eat way too many apples.

  11. My top 20: Chickpeas, Oranges, Apples, Pears, Kiwis, Garlic, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Licorice Tea, Ground flax seed, Nutritional yeast, Hummus, Cashew butter, Quinoa, Multigrain bread, Chocolate (esp’ly Theo, Endangered Species or Equal Exchange), Broccoli, Spinach and my Too-Very-Tiny food processor.
    …but I’d have to add Vegan Cookbooks and The Internet cuz I’d be spinningly lost without the guidance of all you vegan kitchen geniuses! :)

    • I love your list! I used to have a teeny-tiny food processor too. It got mad at me for trying to make hummus, nut butters, and so many other things that I finally excepted the strain on my wallet and got an 11-cupper. I use it every single day!

  12. Thanks for sharing! I was meaning to do this awhile back and never have either, possibly including my hopes to have one day, too aha. It is great to read what others find essential in their kitchens :). I am not sure if I have ever seen a bamboo spatula, but I will definitely look for one. We have a series of all sorts of bamboo kitchen stuff here. Was waiting as when I found it we didn’t need to buy anything, but have been really looking forward to replacing everything with bamboo! Love your list.

  13. It’s amazing how similar our lists are, except I’ve never used smoked salt (I know!), don’t own a silicon baking mat (but just added one to my wishlist), and have three+ bunches of kale after my weekly shopping trip, not two. Plus, I’d have to add my slow cooker and griddle to my list.

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