Even though I live in what most non-New Yorkers would describe as a tiny city apartment (600 sq. ft.), I have a nice size kitchen and have not been shy about filling its drawers and covering its counters with cooking tools and gadgets. Of course, everyone has accumulated items that after months of ignoring they realize maybe weren’t so useful after all (i.e., herb cutter).
But even within the more practical category, I seem to return to the same few tools over and over again. Much like the way I wear the same clothes week after week, despite a closet-full of pants and shirts (some with the tags still on them). I am a working mom with a toddler, so while I am not regularly opening pop-up cafes, or even cooking full meals every single night, I seem to always be in the kitchen and always using these items. Only after creating my list did I realize that all of them are small versions of larger ones.
Still, I insist, these recommendations are not only for fellow New Yorkers (or dollhouse owners), as I am confident I would continue to use the same favorite utensils if I lived in a massive home (anything over 800 sq. ft.).
All items are under $10 and can be purchased online or in most kitchen and home good stores.
1. Serrated pairing knife
: If I were on a cooking Survivor-like reality show and was allowed to take only one knife, it would be this one. I am absolutely certain I use this knife in more ways than Victorinox ever intended, and quite certainly do not execute any sort of proper technique with it. However, this is the knife I reach for when I need to cut a tomato, a cucumber, a challah roll, a block of semi-hard cheese, a cupcake (of which I am pretending I will only eat half), or when I need to slice through the top of a plastic bag of salad greens. I own three.
2. Small spatula
: I am persistent, and I ask a lot of questions. Some might call me nosy. I am also just a smidge anal-retentive (just a smidge). But, really, I just like to get to the bottom of things…like peanut butter jars, cream cheese containers; and get every last remaining cholesterol-filled drop of mayonnaise. This spatula does the job, and does it well. I also use it a lot when mixing up small batches of sauces, spreads or glazes.
3. Small scoop colander
: Whether it is for my son or myself, this is so handy when rinsing off a serving or two (or three) of fruit, and even pasta, and other cooked items. There is also the kind that collapse flat but I like this one by the brand Arcitec in particular because of its more ergonomic design, ya know, it’s “scoopiness”.
4. Mini whisk
: This one could easily be dismissed as nonessential but it truly is the best tool for whisking a quantity of eggs suitable for a Sunday morning breakfast. Larger whisks cause the viscous egg to sloppily fling over the bowl’s sides, and a fork simply doesn’t efficiently combine the whites and the yolks. Anyway, at $1 price tag, this whisk is no risk. (Note: whisks do come even smaller. I had one of these whisk keychains once and actually used it successfully. For some reason I am proud of this.)
5. Small offset spatula
: Even if you only bake the occasional box-mix brownie (which I will not judge but say simply that brownies from scratch are so fast and easy you really should think about); or, to be honest, you just like spreading cream cheese on your bagel like it’s a mini birthday cake, this off set spatula is super handy. I actually use it in almost every baking recipe I make, including real birthday cakes.
Pronounced: KHAH-luh, Origin: Hebrew, ceremonial bread eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.