Teflon frying pans - I have two of every size: 6", 8", 10" and 12". I use them daily!
Kitchenaid mixer (the old model, that lasts forever unlike some of the newer KA ones)
Blender - I sorely miss my stainless steel commercial blender that finally died after 20 yrs of hard use. I've tried a couple of different hi-powered bar blenders, but haven't liked any of them as well. May have to go to a Vita-mix, which I really didn't want to do.
Food Processor - I don't use this all that often, but for certain recipes, it does the job better than anything else.
Okay ... if we're not listing the obvious stuff like the stove which I use daily and couldn't be without ... then it would have to be my Showtime Rotisserie. :) Got it last year for Christmas, and even though I'm very limited on my kitchen space, I'll always make room for one. :)
I'll have to say my Kitchenaid mixer and Fridgidaire stove are my two most important pieces. I use the mixer and oven 5 days a week from the middle of April to the middle of November mixing quick breads for Farmer's Market. It the height of summer I make about 54 batches of bread a week. The first year I had a hand mixer figuring it would be more convenient but after I burned two of them up I pulled out the big guns and it sits on the counter and never gets put away. I also have the grinder attachment which is wonderful for grinding meats for meat salads.
The oven is not a true convection oven but has the speed bake feature. I can put 4 9X5 pans and 18 3X5 pans on two racks and bake them all at the same time with excellent results.
Oh man.. that's hard. My knife.. a Henkle santoku, very inexpensive Target varity, but I love it.
My hot rod red Kitchenaid mixer.
my COFFEE POT and Cuisinart burr grinder
my crock pot.. yep I still use it
and my computer. I get lots of recipes from it.
Jordan.. I got the ice cream attachment with it, a special on TV and then later I got the pasta attachment. Love it.
I got it to make cookies for my husband when he was in Kuwait in 05. I tried to send him cookies at least once a month. But he rarely got over one or two .. he shared with everyone. :)
I make sourdough bread once a week with mine too. I have a bread machine but I would rather use my mixer.
Do you use the meat grinder much?
My favorite "can't do without it" is my Pampered Chef Covered Skillet...it's the perfect thing to fry, bake or make sauce in...good size for two of us when you want to make enough for leftovers the next day...I absolutely love it...my "old timer" is my Tupperware mat that rolls up to store for making pie crust ...I've had it at least since the late 60's/early 1970's...it is a complete necessity for flaky scones...Deb
I peel so many apples for the freezer that this time of year it is my apple peeler. Otherwise I just love kitchen gadgets and can't decide on one. I have to include knives and frypans in there also. If I was rich I'd buy all kinds of stuff!
my dream is to have a overhead pot rack filled with gleaming copper pots...and really if I'm dreaming my best one is to have a personal cook to go with it...ves522, is your apple peeler one from Pampered Chef, perhaps?...I've never gotten the hang of using it...Deb
I turned the question around to "If my kitchen was on fire, what is the first thing I would save?" and my answer is, without hesitation, my binders containing unpublished recipes. These are the ones passed down and around the family. There are also the original recipes from myself and friends, the ones that are irreplaceable. Everything else could be replaced if lost.
Yes, a couple of my knives, of course. But beyond that, any of the half-dozen pairs of spring-loaded Vollrath tongs. Most useful extensions of the human hand ever made. Watch a good saute cook as his tongs fly back and forth over six or eight burners, flipping, nudging, basting, deglazing, picking up hot pans, dishing out food . . . Tongs are one of the five or six absolute musts at any station in a restaurant kitchen.
I can't go along with the mini chopper. I've had them, and they all go in the garbage. If you count cleaning time, there's nothing I can't do faster with a 10" chef's knife and a good wire whisk. On the other hand, a heavy-duty food processor, preferably one with a continuous-feed attachment, also ranks in the must-haves.
Funny thing. I've seen lots of these polls, and no one, absolutely no one, ever mentions a steel. When I'm prepping, the steel is always within reach, and it gets used a couple of dozen times a day, maybe more, depending on the work being done. And, while I'm babbling, I'll confess that I don't like the diamond ones. Good old butcher steel.
If you've read this far, here's a plug for The Knife Center http://www.knifecenter.com/welcome2.html
a great knife vendor (with whom I have no connection whatsoever other than having bought something and been satisfied.
A steel is a thin, slightly tapered rod of very hard steel, with a wooden or plastic handle. I'm sure you've seen them. They're not for sharpening knives; that's the job of a stone, or series of stones. The steel is used to keep a fine edge on a knife.
If you were to look at a greatly enlarged photo of a knife edge, you'd see that although to the naked eye it looks smooth, at a micro level it's like a serrated blade, with tiny teeth. As the knife is used, the teeth get bent, making the blade duller. Swiping the knife against the steel at a 20 degree angle realigns the teeth.
One of my first jobs as a cook was to make about 5 gallons of onion soup every morning, which involved slicing a whole lot of onions. I got real fast, and the slices would come flying off the blade in an arc. But I could sense when, after a few minutes, the knife was dulling slightly and I'd give it a few quick passes on my steel (and wipe it) and the knive would be razor-sharp again.
Most people use knives that are, to a working chef, very dull indeed. You might think that very sharp knives are dangerous, but the reverse is true. Dull knives are a peril, because they don't cut true, and tend to slide rather than slice.
I've got the stitches in my hand to prove it.
Get a steel, learn to use it. You'll be a much better cook.
I'm chatty tonight, so let me add this: I could have done the onions on the slicing machine. But the slicer tends to mash the onions a little, releasing considerably more juice than the knife, and preventing the slices from caramelizing as well, which negatively affects both taste and appearance.
Sorry to be so long in answering. Been busy busy busy.
If there's not a good kitchenware store near you (or, probably better, a butcher supply shop), you can always try here: http://www.knifecenter.com/. I've only bought from them once, a little folding sharpener for my tackle box, but they have a good selection and the prices seem very fair. Again, I see no reason on earth to spend a ton of money on the most expensive ebony-handled, diamond-crusted steel you can find, unless you admit that you just think it's very bonnie and you'd love to have it.
Another thing: for no good reason, some steels do not have a guard where the handle meets the shaft, or they only have a little one. Take it from me--please, take it from me--an errant stroke that lands on the top of your knuckle or the back of your hand, especially if you're honing a larger knife, is NO FUN AT ALL. Make sure that there's a good-sized guard. And, although I don't do it, 'cause I'm a big dumb macho guy, you could learn to hold the steel with the shaft coming out backwards, which is to say out the pinky side of your hand, and pressing the point lightly but firmly into a butcher block or something that yields a trifle (not stainless or marble, on which the point will slide).
Last note: I think you should make the effort to find a place where you can pick the steel up. This goes for almost all tools. No matter what they look like in a jpeg, it's not the same as feeling the balance, the length and the size of the handle in person. Remember: steels are virtually indestructable unless you're using them to operate the jack on your car or something. You'll NEVER wear it out. So find one you like. This is one area where I'd suggest spending a little extra if you see something that works for you. Ten or twenty bucks amortized over thirty years is... is ... not so much every year.
The steel is for HONING your knives, which is to say putting a finishing touch on a sharp knife. What it won't do is SHARPEN A DULL KNIFE. If you've used your chef's knife for years, or if Someone has used a paring knife to cut cardboard with, the steel is useless. At that point you need to buy a sharpening stone of some kind and do some work.
Please note, further, that none of this applies to cheap, hollow-ground blades (the ones that have a concave section from about halfway down from the spine to the cutting edge). While I stand by my "a good craftsman never blames his tools" adage, it does imply that the tools have some fundamental value to begin with. If you buy a knife for $2.95 in a hardware store, use it to dig weeds with or something.
If you think that honing is a big subject, wait till you get to sharpening. There are only about a gazillion different kinds of stones out there. But K.I.S.S. Get a good stone, not a stone that costs a bundle, and learn to use it. The KnifeCenter has a big variety and also REFERENCE MATERIAL on how to use them.
Found Alton Brown said this on his site and made me laugh: [quote]I still say -- banish the Uni-tasker. If it doesn't perform multiple functions, it doesn't belong in the kitchen (except for the fire extinguisher, of course).[/quote]
I dug my immersion blender out of the cabinet the other day and put it over behind the dish drainer, in a corner with some other small appliances. I share the kitchen with my mom.. it is her kitchen after all, but I do most of the heavy cooking. This is a two family home.
Anyway. During the prep for Thanksgiving dinner along with me and my mom... my husband and our guest were also in the kitchen helping.
Some one... My mom claims it was not her. however.. I have caught her in a few fibs... (81 and ... ... well my mom...) Someone either knocked it to the floor or tried to take it apart the WRONG way. And broke it. I went in to make me some refried beans the other day.. I like to smash em good, so I use the I. blender, the parts wouldn't fit together. I was so angry that someone would break it and not tell me. I honestly think it was my mom. SO----- I just ordered a Kitchen aid Immersion Blender. And this time it goes in the wall bracket. Because I will use it several times a week if it's where I can get to it. When I had my own house (for 34 years) I just kept it by the stove and ready to go.. a quick wash in a glass of hot soapy water then rinse. However, my mom is not too up there on cooking efficiency. She has a huge kitchen and stuff is in the most un expected places. So anyway.. I didn't mean to go on a tangent. I just really really miss having my own kitchen.
As much as I love Alton Brown and yes I've heard him say that very thing. I don't always agree with his methods. And a gadget freak like me... I don't always take his no unitasker to heart. Neither does my husband... he got me an electric jar opener last year for Christmas.. I put it down in my moms kitchen so she could use it.. Cause I can still open jars, however she never used it... It does work perfectly.. I just don't open a lot of jars up here in my tiny makeshift kitchen.