After losing count of the number of days we've now spent locked down at home, we began to notice a few quarantine archetypes emerging from these unusual times. There are the hungry bookworms plowing through every best-seller list, the green-thumbed plant parents growing their own apartment gardens, and then there are the bread-baking newbies just now discovering their way around an oven. If you fall into this newfound-foodie category and plan on keeping your culinary passion alive post-pandemic, you're going to need the right tools to get cookin' (literally). Where does one begin with building the foundation for a well-equipped kitchen? With Dominek Tubbs and Molly Yeh: two gastronomic goddesses behind successful food blogs Dom N' The City and My Name Is Yeh.
We consulted the pair for their expert advice on the actually essential items that every home cook should own (peppered with a touch of their personal tips and tricks, too). Tubbs' and Yeh's resulting hit-list includes everything from spoonulas to scales and eight other tools that belong in the cabinets of any kitchen — whether you're the most basic of beginners or a highly seasoned pro. Scroll on to take stock.
A Hand Mixer
"Being in the kitchen, several tools allow you to work smarter and not harder," says Tubbs. "A hand mixer is a great essential if you plan on baking but don't want to leap a commercial or large size mixer."
KitchenAid KitchenAid® 7-Speed Hand Mixer, $, available at Bed Bath & Beyond
A Silicone Spoonula
"I could attach this thing to my hand if I could," Yeh says, and she's hardly kidding. "I use it for everything from stirring sauces to scraping the cake batter bowl to folding granola bar ingredients together. It's a great versatile size, shape, and stiffness, and comes in cute colors. And you can use it on nonstick and enameled pans which is always a plus."
GIR Silicone Seamless Spoonula, $, available at Amazon
A Set of Cutting Boards
"Cutting boards are great for prepping your veggies, fruits, and proteins, but having multiple boards will lower the chance of cross-contamination," Tubbs recommends.
Core Bamboo Core Bamboo 3-Piece Cutting Board Set, $, available at Bed Bath & Beyond
A Cast Iron Braiser
"These are so versatile because they cook beautifully on the stovetop and then can go right in the oven. They have higher sides than typical pans so in addition to typical sauté pan things like veggies/burgers/steaks/eggs/
etc. you can also make your pasta sauce in them and then add all the pasta," Yeh explains, adding: "Or make stewy things! I also use them for casseroles and then only need to dirty up one pan. And I just leave mine out on the stove a lot of the time because it looks pretty."
Le Creuset Braiser, $, available at Le Creuset
"Utensils are like the paintbrushes for your culinary masterpieces, and having items such as tongs, spatulas, wooden spoons, and measuring cups and spoons are great additions," Tubbs says.
Open Kitchen by Williams Sonoma Essential 17-Piece Tool Set, $, available at Williams-Sonoma
A Kitchen Scale
Yeh wants everyone to stop using measuring cups, urging us all to switch to a kitchen scale instead. "Just do it! Learn to weigh stuff, cut down on dirty dishes, get more consistent results, it's a win win win win!" she says. "Rip off the band-aid, it will only take a few days to adjust and you'll wonder why it took you so long."
Ozeri Touch II Digital Kitchen Scale with Microban Antimicrob, $, available at Bed Bath & Beyond
A Non-Stick Frying Pan
"An excellent non-stick pan can carry you from pancakes for breakfast to sautéing your favorite vegetables for dinner," Tubbs suggests.
Caraway Home Fry Pan, $, available at Caraway
Tubbs also says that sheet pans are a must. "Pans are among the most commonly used items in my kitchen for baking cookies, roasting veggies, or setting up sheet pan recipes such as chicken and potatoes," she says.
Wilton Easy Layers 13-Inch x 9-Inch Nonstick Jelly Roll Pans, $, available at Bed Bath & Beyond
A Rimmed Sheet Pan, Specifically
And if you ask Yeh, there's just one type of sheet pan worth buying: "Standard half, quarter, and eighth rimmed sheet pans are the only pans I use because they stack and store so easily, and get the job done without anything rolling off. They're so versatile, inexpensive, and I particularly love the little eighth sheet pans because they're a good size for toasting just a handful of nuts or making just one pizza bagel."
Great Jones Holy Sheet, $, available at Great Jones
Two Very Good Knives
When it comes to knives, Yeh believes you really only need a good sharp chef's knife and a serrated knife. "You can throw in a paring knife too," she adds. "It will make dinner time so much more enjoyable. Cutting vegetables with a sharp knife is very therapeutic."
Miyabi Artisan 8-Inch Chef Knife, $, available at Bed Bath & Beyond
For more from Dominek Tubbs, follow her on Instagram and visit her blog for all things food and fun in New York City.
You'll find a treasure trove of businesses to support from marginalized communities along with easy-to-follow recipes from Tubbs' personal kitchen (hello, brioche French toast!). When she isn't exploring and sharing the flavors of the city, Tubbs works in operations management for an innovative tech startup.
Photo by Erica Westley.
For a delicious taste of farm life, follow Molly Yeh on Instagram and check out the contents of her blog.
After moving from the busy streets of Brooklyn to the vast fields of the North Dakota-Minnesota border, Yeh has been baking with wheat from her very own yard and hanging out with her little flock of chickens while documenting it all for her over-580k fans. Yeh is also the star of Food Network's "Girl Meets Farm" and author of the cookbook "Molly on the Range," which you can order here.
Photo courtesy of Food Network.
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