You might not know this, but in addition to being a foodie, I am also a wedding planner.
The profession allows me the opportunity to talk with brides about their weddings, of course, but also about their wedding registries. Many have asked me, since they know I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, for my advice about must-have items for their kitchens. While some are seasoned cooks, many are setting up their kitchens for the first time. Either way, I thought it might be fun to talk about what I consider to be the top 10 go-to kitchen items.
1. I guess it goes without saying that a good quality set of pots and pans is the foundation for any kitchen. I am still using a Calphalon set I got more than 20 years ago. Lots of options are out there including copper, stainless and nonstick. So weigh the pros and cons before deciding. I highly recommend adding a Dutch oven to the set. I use mine all the time for soups, roasts, sauces, etc.
2. A good set of knives is a must. It will help you prepare for every meal like a pro. If you’ve ever tried to slice and dice with a bad knife, you know how important it is. Some knives are self-sharpening while some require a sharpening steel. Using the sharpening steel takes a little practice to master but works great to keep your knives on the cutting edge.
3. A good Southern cook should have a cast-iron skillet. If you’re lucky, you’ll inherit one from your momma or grandmomma that’s already been seasoned. Iron skillets are family heirlooms.
4. No kitchen of mine would be complete without a slow cooker or three. When purchasing, this is one appliance where more bells and whistles are a good thing. A range of settings and a timer are beneficial.
5. I’m also a huge fan of the KitchenAid mixer. If at all possible, get the one with the biggest bowl and motor. You won’t be sorry. Once you get in the habit of using it, you can’t be without it.
6. Mixing bowls are a no-brainer for any kitchen. The question comes as to whether you prefer glass, stainless steel, plastic or stoneware. A set in a variety of sizes is always a good choice.
7. A good cutting board is definitely a wise investment. After several years of using lightweight cutting mats, I think they work exceptionally well for everyday use. However, when cutting meats, I recommend a large antimicrobial board. Both cutting mats and antimicrobial boards are easy to clean, inexpensive enough to have one for each type of food to avoid cross-contamination and save lots of valuable storage space.
8. One of my favorite things when cooking are the angled measuring cups by OXO. These are so easy to use and come in a variety of sizes.
9. Another favorite is the grill pan. When heating up the big grill seems a bit overwhelming or the weather isn’t cooperating, a grill pan provides the almost-perfect substitute for meats and vegetables complete with grill marks.
10. Every kitchen must have some good cookbooks. I have lots but my favorites are those published by Southern Living, junior leagues and churches. I have another favorite but that would be a shameless plug (Cooking with Crevolyn cookbook available at J&J Foods).
OK readers, let me hear from you. What are your kitchen must-have items? I’d love to know. Email me at email@example.com.
Of course, every good cook needs a super easy and delicious cobbler recipe. You’ll want to make this tonight!
Mixed berry cobbler
- 4 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix berries and 1/2 cup sugar and set aside.
Melt butter in a 9-by-13-inch glass dish in the oven.
Combine 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and milk; mix until lumps are gone. Pour batter over butter and spoon fruit on top.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.