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The Well-Stocked Kitchen

My husband can fix anything. And to prove it, he has thousands of dollars of tools in the garage. I remember the first time we bought him nice tools — the kind that come with a lifetime warranty and of which his friends would be jealous. He almost cried. But I said, “Look. I’m tired of buying you cheap tools that break within a year. I want you to have good tools that won’t break on you when you need them most. It’s worth paying the premium.”

What, you ask, does this have to do with food? Well, I am by no means a professional cook. Nor do I have an extensive kitchen budget. But, sometimes having the right tool makes all the difference. Over the years, I’ve slowly been investing in my kitchen. These are the things I now believe my kitchen would be incomplete without, in order of most to least used (although all are used regularly!).

All-Clad 5Qt. Stainless Steel Saute Pan With Lid

Without a doubt, the MOST used item in my entire kitchen. I use it like a skillet, a wok, and a sauce pan. I cook with it on the stove or in the oven. It’s easy to clean and even easier to use. Talk about cooking food evenly! That’s All-Clad’s specialty.

Lodge Logic 10 inch Cast Iron Chef’s Skillet

Cast iron. Need I say more? Perfect for frying up bacon and other tasty goodies.

Ironwood Gourmet Acacia Wood Square End Grain Chef’s Board

I got this cutting board as a wedding present 12 years ago. It has survived daily use and abuse. It’s large enough to cut up multiple items at once. It hasn’t cracked, even though I’m only mildly good at oiling it.

Oster Classic Blender

While I wish for a VitaMix or a Bosch, I settle for my good old Oster. This one has an all-metal drive, so it actually LASTS. Honestly, I can’t complain. I’ve used it for just about every imaginable blender task from blending smoothies to grinding grains, and it’s held up remarkably well. During the summer it gets used almost every morning to make a giant smoothie.

Kitchen Aid Pro 600 Stand Mixer

Perhaps the most versatile tool in my kitchen, thanks to its many attachments. I use it not only as a standard mixer, but also as a food processor, a grain mill, and an ice cream maker.

Anchor Hocking 3 Piece Casserole Glass Bakeware Set

I love glass bakeware, particularly the kind that can go from the oven to the serving table to storage in the fridge. To do that, it has to be 100% glass, including the lids. I’ve got a set of 6 of the smaller 12oz size, and I use them as my standard food storage container in my refrigerator for leftovers. Nothing’s easier than whipping out the leftovers and popping them in my counter-top convection toaster oven for a quick lunch for the kids. I also collect old Pyrex casserole dishes for the same purpose, but they don’t sell those new with glass lids anymore. That goodness for Good Will and other thrift stores!

All-Clad Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons & Cups

Believe it or not, I actually paid money for nice, stainless steel measuring cups & spoons! Why? Because I was tired of having my old ones break apart or bend out of shape. The spoons are stamped out of a single piece of heavy steel, so there’s no rivets or joints to wiggle loose with time. Plus they feel NICE (I mean *really nice*) in your hand.

What’s Next?

If you’re interested in finding out more about any of the above products, just click on the product name and you’ll jump to Amazon where you can read customer reviews, buy the product, or search for similar products more suited to your own kitchen needs.

I’m still hunting for the perfect set of knives and general kitchen utensils. Right now I’m using an old Cutco set that was my grandmother’s before she passed away. They’re okay, but I’m certain there are better ones out there!

I also know that if I regularly baked, I’d probably really want a good set of stainless steel bake ware. But, baking is not something I do that much of right now, so my bake ware is a hodge podge of stuff I’ve collected or been given. For a good listing of kitchen tools, appliances, bake ware, and more, check out my Resources Page.

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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24 Responses to The Well-Stocked Kitchen
  1. Lovelyn
    August 9, 2010 | 4:00 pm

    These are all important items that are good to have in your kitchen. I’ve held off buying a few of the things I need because I always think I’m going to be moving soon. It’s really dumb when I think of it. Why should moving at some point in the future stop me from buying a blender?
    .-= Lovelyn´s last blog post …Barnyard Ambitions =-.

  2. Terry
    August 9, 2010 | 8:50 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! These are some of my favorites as well. Try some of the new Cutco knives or send in yours to be sharpened. I just bought a set for me and a set for my son and we absolutely love them!

    • KristenM
      August 9, 2010 | 9:58 pm

      I’ve often thought about sending mine in to be sharpened, but I’ve never researched the cost to see if it’d be worthwhile.

  3. Karen C.
    August 9, 2010 | 9:29 pm

    Knives. Try Forschner. They are very inexpensive and very good. Cook’s Illustrated rated them the best of the knives they tried. The paring knife is only $5-$6 — what do you have to lose? I have that and a Santoku (about $25) and love love love them.. If I did a post like yours, these knives would be the only things on my list as a “can’t live without.”

    • KristenM
      August 9, 2010 | 9:59 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Michelle
    August 9, 2010 | 9:38 pm

    I have a Vitamix blender which we use every day for one thing or another, and it was so worth the cost!! (My other blenders burnt out.) For baking, I recommend the Vollrath sheets — they’ll knock your socks off for durability and usefulness. They’re the only cookie sheets I’ve ever used that didn’t warp at high temperatures, so I use them under the broiler & everything. (They also turn out great cookies.)

    • KristenM
      August 9, 2010 | 10:02 pm

      My Oster still hasn’t shown the faintest sign of burning out. That said, I still envy my brother’s VitaMix. I’ve never heard of Vollrath. I’ll have to check those out!

  5. Niki Turner
    August 10, 2010 | 12:36 am

    I remember believing I was incapable of making sauces, gravies, or macaroni and cheese until I bought a set of Pampered Chef cookware. And then I had to apologize to my husband for his insistence on buying expensive tools.
    .-= Niki Turner´s last blog post …Consider Your Approach =-.

    • KristenM
      August 10, 2010 | 8:26 am

      Yep. It’s kinda like always making cookies that cook unevenly, then realizing it’s because you’ve got ultra-cheap cookie sheets.

  6. Julie
    August 10, 2010 | 2:02 am

    I’ve had my Cutco knives since 1975–I think they are fantastic. Just send the ones you have in to be sharpened–go to the website: and get the directions for how you do this. The only thing you may pay is the cost of shipping to and from the company.

    • KristenM
      August 10, 2010 | 8:26 am

      I really should do that.

  7. Chloe
    August 10, 2010 | 2:24 am

    To make serious sandwich bread, I love my Matfer Bourgeat blue steel bread pan with cover (15.75″x 4″x 4″), along with the VitaMix to grind my wheat and the KitchenAid 6qt mixer to knead it for me. :-)

    One serious kudo for VitaMix … my motor wore out after 6 1/2 years of daily use. Vitamix has an awesome 7-year warranty and sent me not only a motor that works like new, but also new containers and blades, even with them paying shipping BOTH ways from Hawaii! It was definitely worth the money! If/when this one bites the dust, I’ll definitely buy another.

    • KristenM
      August 10, 2010 | 8:28 am

      I actually justified my Kitchen Aid stand mixer purchase because of how much I made bread. And then, just 6 months or so after I got it, I stopped making bread every other day.

  8. Elizabeth
    August 10, 2010 | 7:50 am

    This is something I’m continually working on as well. My cooking badly needs to be upgraded. The best piece I have in the kitchen right now is my cast iron pan–can’t go wrong with one of those! I’m working on the rest, plus there are definitely a few small appliances I’d like to get my hands on. For Christmas last year I got my first Cuisinart food processor, and that has made a huge difference in my kitchen!

  9. Alice
    August 10, 2010 | 11:09 am

    I love my Henckels knives. They’re expensive, but I’ve been slowly adding to my collection over the past few years – getting them as Christmas & birthday gifts. The other thing I can’t live without in my kitchen is my food processors. I have a standard sized one, and I also have one of those mini’s that’s so great for whipping up a small batch of salad dressing or sauce, or chopping up a bunch of garlic when I don’t feel like doing it by hand.

  10. Miriam
    August 10, 2010 | 12:29 pm

    I agree with everything but the mixer. After killing 4 motors (only 2 covered by warranty) and switching to making 2 half-batches of bread then hand kneading them together at the end I moved on to an Electrolux Assistant. My girls were asleep and the hubby was watching soccer when I made my first batch of dough with it. He didn’t notice and the girls slept through. You can’t do that with a Kitchen Aid.

    • KristenM
      August 10, 2010 | 12:38 pm

      Were you using the Kitchen Aid Pro 600, or another Kitchen Aid? And what speed were you kneading your bread at? (Hopefully not above 2!) I ask because this is the only Kitchen Aid that comes with an all-metal drive that holds up to regular, commercial use. Hence the “Pro.”

      I would like it if it were quieter though!

      • Miriam
        August 10, 2010 | 9:50 pm

        After the second one, they upgraded me to the pro model. I was using following the instructions in the manual and the customer service person said I shouldn’t have had any problems when I told her what I was doing. I was so sad as I had just bought the ice cream maker attachment, too.

  11. RamblingEpicure
    August 10, 2010 | 4:28 pm

    The Well-Stocked #American #Kitchen. #cookware #utensils #foodprocessor #cuttingboard #knives

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  12. Pippi
    August 10, 2010 | 5:53 pm

    I just bought my number one favorite kitchen gadget after a year of suffering without: a dishwasher!! We knew we’d only be in this apartment a short time and couldn’t justify the cost of the special small-sized one we needed for the tiny kitchen (it irritates me to no end that a smaller machine costs so much more than an equivalent normal-sized machine). But we just found a used one and it will installed Thursday. When you spend as much time in the kitchen as us traditional foods people do a dishwasher really makes life easier.

  13. Laura
    August 13, 2010 | 10:36 pm

    When my blender broke I started using my Kitchen aid stick blender a lot more. Now I find that all the blending jobs I do can be done just as well with the stick blender. It’s a lot easier to clean too. I’m sure folks can come up with blender jobs the stick blender is no good for, but I cook a lot and I haven’t run into one yet. This is a great tool.

  14. Suburbhomestead
    August 15, 2010 | 4:57 am

    Reading @foodrenegade The Well-Stocked Kitchen

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  15. April Montgomery @ Best Kitchen Blender
    October 29, 2010 | 8:55 pm

    I do agree that a kitchen that doesn’t have the right tools for cooking is missing a lot. Everything from an efficient blender to a good quality pan has its place, and what a difference it makes in every meal! The kitchen stand mixer is one of the tools that I found the most interesting among all of them.

  16. Emily C
    September 10, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    Question: How does the Kitchen Aid pro work as a food processor? I have a Cuisinart that’s really a pain in the butt to use because the hard plastic tabs have broken off, and it’s complicated to assemble and clean. I am looking for a better option when I reinvest and am wondering if this would be the way to go?

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.