Reality check. You don’t have a cooking show and you probably don’t need the latest $500 blending device that creates restaurant-quality salsa. You need a few reliable basics that allow you to get the job done.
If you’re like me, walking into a kitchen store becomes an overwhelming obstacle course in expensive, useless gadgetry. “Simplify, simplify,” said Thoreau, and though I don’t think he was referring to my kitchen, his aphorism makes a helpful mantra to streamline your gadgetry collection.
Among my collection, these are my five must-owns that I can’t imagine being without whether I’m creating a five-course dinner for my top clients or just grass-fed burgers for me and my boys.
1) A good quality chef’s knife. Is there anything a good chef’s knife can’t do? A 6- or 8-inch chef’s knife can handle any cutting, slicing or chopping task. Test, don’t guess: visit a store and try them out, see how they feel in your hand. If they feel too big, small, or heavy in the store, put them back: you’re not going to use them in real life. Go with what feels right in your hand, and don’t be afraid to pay a little extra for quality. This is a lifetime investment.
2) A cast iron skillet. The original “non stick” skillet your grandmother used for decades and probably passed on to your mom. Pre-seasoned and ready to use, they’re inexpensive and infuse your food with iron, a mineral many of us don’t get enough of. (If you do have iron overload, you’ll probably want to skip this one.) Just follow your manufacturer’s warranty and don’t use soap to clean them.
3) Measuring spoons and cups. I’m always tempted to “eyeball” ingredients and improvise. Except the dish always turns out too salty or a little off when I do that. A high-quality measuring spoon and cup provide consistency. I also use a cup to measure almonds and spoon for almond butter. Otherwise, we all know how a whole jar or container “disappears.” You’ll start to understand what ¼ cup or 1 tablespoon look like. Warning: you might be surprised how much you were eating before you measured!
4) A microplane. This multi-use zester grates nutmeg, citrus peel, garlic, and ginger. You’ll get fresher ingredients, and a microplane is way more efficient than buying pre-grated containers. Talk about serious flavor boost to your free-range chicken and veggies!
5) A blender. I can’t imagine life without my VitaMix to make perfect shakes, pesto, soups, and… well, what can’t a good blender do? If a VitaMix is outside your price range (excellent investment; trust me!), do your research and buy a high-quality blender. You’ll use it every day, so make sure yours has an excellent warranty.
I’ll discuss more cool, useful kitchen gadgets in The Virgin Diet Cookbook, out February 2014. Can I just say this is my favorite book yet? I’ve had such a great time researching and – let’s be honest – testing the fab recipes. Plan to buy several copies for your friends. If you loan out yours, you’re probably not going to get it back!
Your turn: what’s your go-to gadget or appliance that you can’t imagine being without in your kitchen? Share in the comments section below or on my Facebook fan page.
© 2013 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies. She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. Her latest book, New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, is out now. Learn more at www.thevirgindiet.com.
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