27 February 2011

Indispensable Kitchen Tools

Posted in events, food at 11:23 pm by Tricia

I agreed to host a blog posting event for the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers for February, and my topic was “indispensable kitchen tool.” Of course, being the procrastinator that I am, my own post is going up past the deadline I gave everyone else, but since it’s my party, I can be fashionably late if I want to. :^)

digital scale, analog ruler, paper sticky labels

Can you find three indispensable kitchen tools in this photo?

Some years back, I got a digital kitchen scale, having read that it was indispensable for great baking – weights are vastly preferred to measuring cups and spoons! However, not many American cookbooks are written with weights, at least not for the kinds of baking I lean towards (the sweet stuff). On the other hand, the bread baker in the family relies on it all the time, so it’s definitely indispensable for our continuing consumption of homemade naturally leavened bread. And since I’m not good at estimating sizes, I also keep a ruler in my kitchen, for all those recipes that call for things to be rolled out or chopped to certain dimensions. (I’m not so anal that it things must be exact, but I do want to know if e.g. my pie crust is closer to 1/4 inch or 1 inch!)


broken kitchenaid mixer

Well-used and worn-out Kitchen Aid

Of course, given that we have a bread baker in the family, one of our indispensable tools has been our Kitchen Aid stand mixer. We got it at a yard sale around 1990 for $20. Sadly, it died last week: metal fatigue from multiple years of kneading lots of loaves of bread led to the head falling off (in the middle of kneading!). Jonski Papa started making naturally leavened (aka sourdough) bread for us a few years back, and even had a very small bread baking business for almost a year (until he got a new Real Job With Benefits last June). He’s in the market for replacement parts or an old KA; failing that, is looking for a new mixer. Apparently bread baking forums are full of reports that the new KA-branded mixers are not up to snuff for hard core bread kneading so he’s looking at other brands. Since the unfortunate incident on Thursday, I have been using a hand-mixer that my eldest child won me at an auction a few years back – he didn’t know that I had one that I received as a wedding shower gift from one of my 5 year old Sunday School students [or more accurately, his mom!], way back in 1987. My son probably never saw me use it – we had a stand mixer, after all!

roll of labels

My beloved labels. Only 1 1/4" left on the roll - what will I do when I run out??

What I really had in mind when I came up with this topic is something very mundane and low-tech, and that is a roll of sticky labels. Labels, you ask? Why certainly! Way back in 2002, I got two GIANT rolls of these labels at The Scrap Box. If I recall correctly (and if the box they were in was accurately marked), they were discarded by a large book store company based in our town. I’ve used them as toddler entertainment while traveling; I use them to label boxes for storage, things going to school, mailing envelopes: but day in and day out, I label leftovers and other things going into the fridge (I’ve even been known to mark the ‘date opened’ on certain quick-to-perish commercial items). Almost nothing goes into the fridge without a label (because if it does, we are likely to forget what or how old it is.) The roll pictured here is my 2nd – I used up the first a while back. I don’t know what I’m going to do when this one is gone!

food containers with labels

Sometimes I tear the labels in half - I'm thrifty that way!

What are your indispensable kitchen tools?



  1. Those labels are a great idea. I worry about this happening to my Kitchen Aid as well as the pin that holds the head on often starts to vibrate out when I use it. One of these days I am afraid it will fall out completely before I notice.

    • Tricia said,

      I hope not, Nicole! A beheaded Kitchen Aid is a sad sight to behold (and I hear it makes a really loud thunk when it falls off).

  2. lindalou said,

    I love this post. Low tech is just as important as all the fancy tools.

    My essential kitchen tool was equally as low tech.

    • Tricia said,

      A good pancake flipper is worth it’s weight in gold :^)

  3. Maggie said,

    I love that you listed a roll of labels! I use masking tape to label everything in my kitchen and it’s indespensible. Thanks for the fun event!

    • Tricia said,

      perhaps I’ll turn to masking tape when the labels finally run out…

  4. Leila said,

    My favourite knife and my scale. It’s an old analog, that only goes to 450g, not 500g, because something is broken inside.

    And my KA mixer.

    Are the labels a pita to remove?

    • Tricia said,

      No, the labels are totally easy to remove – they’re file folder labels or something like that. The sticky is not industrial strength at all (sometimes I worry about them falling off envelopes, in fact!)

  5. Leila said,

    And I forgot.

    My spouse.

    • Tricia said,

      awwww, sweet :^) My spouse is our bread machine, so that ties in with Tracy’s comment below!

  6. Tracy said,

    I use a sharpie to mark the lids of jars of sauce, relish, jam, etc, with the date when I open them. Then I am left to wonder…is commercial pickle relish still good one year after being opened?

    I could not work in my kitchen without my apron! I also love my immersion blender, my bread machine, my flour scoop, and my kitchen shears.

    • Tricia said,

      I forgot about kitchen shears – we have a good pair that Matthew’s parents bought us many years ago.

  7. This has been a great series! I confess that I thought I had nothing to write about as I don’t really consider myself much of a cook. Sure, I do ‘stuff’ in the kitchen, but I don’t think of the tools I use as gadgets. They’re just there. But I’ve been reminded that my garlic press, kitchen scissors, a favorite wooden spoon, and a knife that I’m seriously considering bringing back to America when the time comes, would all fit handily in this category.

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