What items should you invest in for the kitchen?
What items should you invest in for the kitchen?
When you start to spend more time in your kitchen, you start to realise that high-quality equipment makes a big difference to the effort required from you.
I've found that spending a little bit more on some things has a huge benefit; the key is knowing what to buy and what you get out of it in the long run.
Here are the things I recommend spending a little more on when you are ready
- Food processor
- Cast iron pan
- Slow cooker
For me investing in a good quality food processor was the best investment I have made in the kitchen. A good food processor will have multiple attachments that will cut down the time and effort significantly. If I used my processor for nothing but grating Cauliflower for Cauliflower rice then the processor would have paid for itself in 2 months ( trust me band aids are expensive). Before buying a food processor, it would take an hour to cut up then grate one Cauliflower (and at least one grated knuckle). Now I can cut up and grate 3 cauliflowers in 20 minutes, and it is no longer seasoned with human skin.
That is just one of the things I use my food processor for, consider other uses
- Ice cream
- Seed or nut butter
- Shredding vegetables
- Grating vegetables
- Making cake batters
- Making mousse
- Mincing meat
- Slicing vegetables
What I can personally recommend is the Kenwood multi pro unit, this is the model that I bought and can say it is a great all-rounder. It is a little bit more than some of the other models on the market. What I can say is that you should look for a processor that meets your needs, suits your budget and will be an excellent investment in your kitchen.
Here are a few general things to consider when looking for a food processor
Look for a processor that has a high watt motor, at a minimum you want a 500w motor, any lower than that and it will likely struggle. When you look at the motor size, also take a look at the speed settings, the more settings, the longer your machine will last as it doesn't need to go flat out for everything it does.
Most of the well-known brands offer a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty; I do recommend you look for a processor that has one.
This is a critical thing to consider when shopping for a processor if you want to make cauliflower rice you need a bowl with a large capacity, believe me, it is not fun having to stop grating and empty the bowl when you are only half way through a cauliflower. I would recommend that you look for something that has a bowl with a 1 litre capacity as a minimum.
I could say that the best idea is to look for a processor that has as many as possible, the truth is that this isn't the best approach. I think a better way is to figure out what you want the processor to do and what functionality is essential for you. To get the best bang for your buck, I would recommend that you look for a processor that has a minimum of a processing blade, shredding discs and slicing discs. If additional attachments are on your wish list, you can find processors with attachments such as
- a citrus press
- Juicing Attachment
- Dough blade
- Chopping blade
- Crinkle cutting disc
- French fry cutting disc
- Dicing kit
- Egg whip
- Blender jug
Very much like the investment in a food processor, I made sure I bought the best blender I could afford. A blender may not be as versatile a piece of kit as a food processor, but I believe in having the right tool for the job. In the case of my blender I actually saved some money because I bought a food processor and blender combo, it was a great deal, I got one base that the blender and processor fit onto.
You may ask yourself why you need a blender when you have a food processor, trust me you do. A blender is a much better tool when you are making sauces, smoothies, or soups than a food processor is. Once you start making your own mayonnaise, hollandaise, and tomato sauce, you will want to have a good quality blender to make your life easy.
As with buying a food processor, you want to be sure to look for the right qualities including a good size motor with multiple speed settings, a manufacturer warranty, and a jug that will hold at least 1 litre.
Cast iron pan
I'll be honest here, cast iron pans are not the easiest option, they take a little bit of care and take some getting used to when you start cooking with them. That being said when you find your feet with cast iron you never want a non-stick frying pan again.
Let’s get a few things clear about cast iron
- It is not difficult to look after - you just need to know the basics for looking after cast iron
- It needs to be seasoned – when you get a cast iron pan you need to season it, even the pre-seasoned cast iron pans need to be seasoned
- Re-season every time you use the pan – when you have rinsed the pan out re-season.
- Use it a lot – the more you use the pan, the better the pan will get
- Don’t let it stay wet – once you have cleaned the pan dry it off and re-season it straight away, wet pans rust no matter how good your seasoning is
Follow these simple rules are a cast iron pan will be a perfection piece of kit for your kitchen. When it comes to cast iron pans, you are going to spend a fair amount of money, there are a few brands available with prices ranging from $40 to $200, and the quality of pan differs from brand to brand.
Here are some of the things to consider when looking for a cast iron pan.
The weight of the pan – this will have a huge impact on your experience with cast iron. Generally, the heavier pans tend to hold heat more, but you want something you can hold in one hand without feeling like it’s a workout.
How it feels in your hand – it's important when you get a pan that you can lift. You also want something that has a user-friendly handle, when you look at the handle you should check if it is heat resistant or has a place suitable to use a pot holder, some pans have two handles to make it easier.
Just because it is expensive doesn't mean it's good- don't use price as the real guide, cheaper doesn't always mean less efficient, do your homework on the brands available and knowing what you want the pan for.
I love my slow cooker, it is a lifesaver when it comes to dinner during the week, I love the simplicity of taking food out of the freezer, putting in the slow cooker, turning it on, and coming home to a meal that is ready to eat. You don’t need to invest a heap in a slow cooker, there are a lot of good quality ones out there.
When shopping for a slow cook, these are some of the things to consider
How is the bowl heated – different slow cookers have a different configuration for the heating elements, look for a slow cooker that has heating elements that come up around the side of the bowl, this will help with even cooking.
What is the bowl made of – there are a few different materials that bowls are made of including ceramic, porcelain and metal, you want a bowl that is easy to remove and clean. Don’t buy a cooker that has a bowl that is fused to the heating unit. If you can get a metal or ceramic bowl as they are durable and will conduct heat very well.
What is the lid made of – we could discuss the options, but the truth is a glass top is the best material for the lid of a slow cooker. It allows you to look inside the bowl without having to remove the lid, it is easy to clean, and durable, the same cannot be said about plastic covers.
What shape is best – there are three main shapes available; oval, round and square.
What you want to cook in your slow cooker will help make the decision of which shape to buy, chickens and roasts will do better in an oval or square than in a round pot.
What is the bowl capacity – there are a variety of bowl sizes out there you can get a slow cook that will hold 1 litre of food all the way up to 10 litres, which is best will depend on how many people you are cooking for, the more people, the bigger capacity you need. I would recommend that you look for something that is big enough to hold a chicken; you will feel the benefits of cook once eat twice.
What buttons does it have – there is a large range of options when it comes to buttons and functions on slow cookers. These include the timers, heat setting, and warming settings. Different brands have various options, so really it's all about what functions you think would be useful to you. Most slow cookers come with the settings of off/on/low/high as a standard. Some come with a timer that lets you programme or set the time you want the cooker to be on for at one of the standard heat settings. A timer is a great option if you are not likely to be home exactly 8 hours after you put it on, it is an excellent way to prevent the mushy vegetable and overdone meat issues.