I’ll probably talk about Nourishing Traditions quite a bit here as I’ve found that it’s become my pseudo kitchen Bible. When B and I are sitting down to eat lunch, I’ll sometimes grab it and read to him whatever “Sally” has to say about the vegetable or fruit we’re having that day. I love the little sidebar anecdotes that accompany the recipes with information on specific ingredients and why the “diet dictocrats” are so wrong.
Of course the other parts of the book are great resources as well, especially the kitchen equipment list. This is one of the first things I read when I was making the switch to traditional foods and found it to be immensely helpful, not only from the perspective of someone making that switch, but also just a good way to outfit and simplify my kitchen. I was able to get rid of a lot of stuff that I didn’t want anymore (a set of non-stick pans and a microwave were at the top of the list), as well as add a few small things that made cooking a lot easier. Here are her recommendations:
- Stainless Steel Cookware – One of the first steps I took when I started eating real food was getting rid of my non-stick pans and switching to stainless steel. Find good-quality stainless steel pans as you get what you pay for with pans. You don’t need a set of 12 – just two or three well-made pans will do nicely.
- Stockpot – Many cookware sets include a stockpot.
- Cast-Iron Skillets – I’ve read a lot about these and actually already picked up a Lodge pre-seasoned skillet at a local store a few years back. I’ve had to re-seasons it a few times, mostly due to me not understanding how to properly maintain a cast-iron skillet and also because the pre-seasoning used by lodge is soy-based, which we try to stay away from, but it’s been a great skillet for me. In the coming weeks, I’ll share the process I used to finally give it the ideal non-stick seasoning I had been trying to achieve for so long. I use this whenever I’m not cooking something acidic and it’s especially useful for Spanish omelets and cornbread.
- Flameproof Casseroles – I use my Lodge 6-quart Dutch oven for this and it works great and is very affordable. LeCreuset would be awesome for this as well, but it’s a little over my price range. 🙂
- Good Knives – I was fortunate to get a great set of J.A. Henckels knives from my dad when I moved out of the house and it’s served me well ever since (this was ten years ago and I’m fairly certain he had had it for at least ten years before that).
- Kitchen Scissors – Costco usually has deals on sets of scissors that are great in the kitchen, but you can also get them with knife sets.
- Wooden Cutting Boards – I currently have a small bamboo cutting board, though I’ve been looking around for a larger one.
- Handheld Blender – This has quickly become one of my favorite kitchen appliances, especially after discovering I could use it to make mayonnaise without having to drizzle olive oil into the food processor for a half hour. I use it for that and soups and homemade, lacto-fermented ketchup and I absolutely love it.
- Glass and Stainless Steel Food Containers – We ditched all of our plastic tupperware a while back and were able to pick up some Snapware Glasslock Containers at Costco a while back for a great price. We also got the Pyrex glass set. When we go out to eat, I always bring something for B in one of the Lunchbots Duo containers.
- Wide-Mouth, Quart-Size Mason Jars – These are the holy grail of traditional foods cooking and you can pick them up pretty much anywhere. I got two sets and use these for everything, including as extra storage when I’ve run out of my other storage containers. In addition to the quart-sized jars, we also got a set of half-gallon, wide-mouth jars, and pint-sized jars, which double as drinking glasses.
- Glass Beverage Containers – We have the previously mentioned mason jars and picked up a set of drinking glasses for us and a set for B at Ikea when our old glasses needed to be replaced. 🙂 B loves his little glasses.
- Food Processor – This is one of the best kitchen-related purchases I’ve ever made. I actually got one several years back through credit card points and can’t imagine my kitchen without it now. Before we got the big one, we had a mini-prep which was nice for chopping smaller things (especially onions – I hate chopping onions) and a little more affordable, but the larger one is definitely a lot more useful. The one we have now doubles as a blender, which is convenient.
- Stainless Steel Baking Pans and Cookie Sheets – For the most part, I use my glass Pyrex set (which they apparently don’t sell anymore – this is the closest one I could find) or Corningware stoneware to bake things, but when a recipe calls for a cookie sheet or a bread pan, I use this.
- Handheld Mixer – This is one area where Sally and I disagree. I had a hand-held mixer for several years and hated it. Switching to a stand mixer (also thanks to credit card points) is also one of the best kitchen investments I’ve ever made. We use it for everything from mixing baked goods (and being able to walk away while it mixes, which is great as B loves to be held so he can watch it mix) to making ice cream to shredding chicken. It’s great.
- Grain Mill, Grain Roller, Corn Mill – If we ate a lot of grains, these would be a great investment. A friend of mine has a grain mill as she makes a lot of homemade bread. But it would be a waste of money for us as we avoid grains.
- Mini Mill – Our coffee grinder fills this role quite nicely. 🙂
- Ice Cream Maker – The attachment we have for our stand mixer works well. It would be nice to have a separate ice cream maker that maybe worked better, but this is sufficient for us (we make ice cream about once a week in the summer time) and also saves some space as it lives in our freezer when it’s not being used.
- Food Mill – I’m still a little iffy on this one. It’s fantastic for mashing potatoes and making apple sauce as I don’t have to peel and it gets rid of skins and seeds for me. But I don’t know that the amount of space it takes up is worth how rarely I use it and a friend of mine makes fantastic apple sauce in her food processor that I actually like a lot better than what I make with the food mill. It’s also supposed to be good for tomato sauce, but I haven’t had much luck with that. I got the Oxo Good Grips Food Mill before B was born intending to use it to make baby food, but then we discovered baby-led weaning and nixed the whole mushy baby food idea.
- Stoneware – I covet any stoneware by Le Creuset, but we haven’t splurged on any of it yet.
- Juicer – This is something we’ve managed to live without. Usually when we’re making beverages, we use our blender or our food processor and they’ve sufficed for us.
- Popcorn Maker – I definitely disagree here. Her reasoning behind this was allowing children to participate in the process, but it just takes up extra space and is unnecessary when stovetop popcorn is so easy and tasty.
- Dehydrator – We have this one and it’s been invaluable for making yogurt as well as dehydrating nuts and fruit.
- Jet Stream Oven – I’ve actually found my toaster oven to be a great substitute for the microwave, though it may not cook as fast as a microwave or jet stream oven.
To this list I would add:
- Toaster Oven – I have an unhealthy infatuation with my toaster oven. As stated above, this is a fantastic substitute for the microwave and works great for baking small things when you don’t want to heat up the stove. They even make ones these days that are big enough to cook an entire pizza.
- Crockpot/Slowcooker – I have two and I love them both, especially since I discovered how to make stock in a crockpot. It’s fantastic in the summer time when I don’t want to heat up the whole house by turning on the oven.
- Steamer Basket – I’ve used both lovely bamboo ones that you can layer multiple things in, as well as basic stainless steel ones that get the job done. Either way, these are a must for cooking fresh vegetables at lunch time in our house.
I am, by no means, a kitchen expert. But these are the things I’ve found to be essential in my little kitchen. 🙂