I’ve lived in big homes and teeny tiny apartments, and even though we all covet a big, beautiful kitchen, we really don’t need one. The super small kitchen I had while I was in grad school taught me a lot about how much crap people have in their kitchens that they really don’t need. Let me be clear–my kitchen did not even have a drawer. Not one. ZERO DRAWERS. There were three cabinets total. I would seek out articles and advice about kitchen essentials, then I figured out what mine were. So, let my micro-kitchen experience be your guide to a clutter-free kitchen. Here are ten kitchen essentials from the Meister kitchen:
Cast iron pan–The cast iron pan has had a bit of a renaissance lately with all the hipsters clamoring to be the most old-timey, but it truly is the most durable, versatile, thing in my kitchen. If you follow me on Snapchat (and you should! susiemeister), you’ll see almost every dinner my son (aka my sous chef) and I make is made in one of our two cast iron pans. Everything from pasta and stir fry to cornbread and biscuits. Seriously. Ours are both Lodge cast iron skillets, which are affordable and will last forever. They are worth every penny and more. They get better with age and if you season them properly they’ll stay in perfect shape. Salt Pot–Don’t even think about judging my salt addiction. And it truly is an addiction. With that said, there is no worse sin in the kitchen than under-seasoning. Just ask Tom and Padma. If I were on Top Chef, I would just hand them each a deer salt lick and I’d win the whole thing. But I digress. This adorable salt pot, is the one I use, but no matter what style you get, it’s so handy and allows you to pinch some as you’re cooking with no hassle.
Tongs–Pretty basic, right? Well, I never used tongs in the kitchen until a few years ago and now I wonder if I was some kind of cavewoman or something. Now they’re my go-to cooking tool. These are my favorites because they’re not too long, they grab like mother effer, and they are sturdy.
Garlic press–Ok. I know. The foodies are all recoiling in disgust that I would recommend something so gauche, but these people that act like it’s easy to quickly mince, dice, and chop garlic are full of it. Stuff that garlic, peel and all, into a proper garlic press and you get your damn garlic in two seconds. It’s easy, and it works. What do you want from me? I’m just an ambassador of the truth. You foodies sit on a throne of lies. Get a daggone garlic press.
Grater–Here’s the thing. I never knew how many things you can grate until I had to get inventive in the kitchen. I actually prefer the mircoplane kind because it’s easier to manage and you lessen your risk of losing a chunk o’ finger. Cinnamon, lemons, limes, garlic. Pick your pleasure. And chocolate shavings make you seem super fancy too, so grate that shit and watch as people bow before you.
Stone Cookie Sheet–I love stoneware because it doesn’t get all funkadelic (rust and other non-savoriness) and bendy like metal cookie sheets, is easy to wash, and is far sturdier than traditional sheets. The downside is that you do have to handwash and it is much heavier than a basic sheet, but I think the good outweighs the bad.Food Processor–Please. We should start a GoFundMe for people without food processors. It accomplishes tasks that would take me all dang day and can be used for anything from smoothies to chopping nuts. If you love extra work, don’t get one. That’s all.
Muffin Cups–I found these treasures through the 100 Days of Real Food blog. They are the perfect solution for putting snacks in kids’ lunchboxes because they’re flexible, and if that were their only benefit they would still be worth it, but they are also light and easy for little hands to manage at snacktime. Plus, you can use them to make muffins (like they’re designed to do) instead of paper or metal disposable cups. They’re adorable. Get them.
Griddle–You might think, what kind of monster in a micro-kitchen would get a griddle, but I love mine and it’s worth the space it takes up. I use mine for pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, but it’s also handy because it adds another hot surface to use to keep the stovetop free for other cooking tasks. The one I use has a drawer underneath that catches the fat that comes off the bacon and other meats, so cleanup is a snap.
Cheese board or Charcuterie Tray–I know most people only put out appetizers and nibbles when guests are over, but our family has a daily “balcony time” tradition. We call it balcony time because when we first moved to LA we had a beautiful balcony that we would sit out on and enjoy the sunsets. It was magical (until the landlord sold the house and kicked us to the curb). We would construct a plate of little bites to enjoy on the balcony: cheeses, meats, honey, mustard. So freaking good. We use this gorgeous Crate and Barrel tray, but you can use anything. Just don’t use a basic plate. It’s just not the same. All the charm is in creating something a little bit special. It’s worth it.