Episode 3: Essential Tools for a Traditional Kitchen
Welcome to another Kitchen Radio audio class!
If you’ve listened to our episode on loving your kitchen, you know that our philosophy doesn’t depend on having the perfect tools.
We believe that you can do what you need to do for your family right where you are, without spending a lot of money and without stressing about whether you’re doing it right.
However, we do use tools in our kitchen, and the right tools can certainly make our job easier.
So, in this episode, we explore which tools we — Laurie and Jamie — have collected in our kitchens over years of traditional cooking. We talk about our favorite tools and offer our recommendations for good investments for your traditional kitchen.
And, of course, we laugh a lot!
You might be surprised by what we have in our kitchens. But you may be even more surprised by what we don’t have.
In the end, we hope this episode — with its companion on loving your kitchen — helps you in the process of simplifying, streamlining, and transforming your kitchen.
Laurie & Jamie
P.S. If you’d like, after you’ve listened to the class, you can take a look at this list of kitchen supplies and our recommendations, complete with links to specific tools we use and like.
However, please do listen to the class first. This isn’t about throwing more money at your kitchen, but about learning to love it, to work in it, to thoughtfully make it the best possible place for nurturing the art of a healing table.
Laurie and Jamie’s Kitchen Supply List
Disclosure: The following list of kitchen tools contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products, Foodwifery will receive a commission. NOTE: Affiliate links are no longer active as of 3-15-19. It is possible they may become active in the future.
Laurie: I use Cold Steel Knives. After over 20 years using a cheap, garage sale serrated knife for literally everything, my teenage son presented these for a Christmas gift. Let me tell you I had no idea what I was missing: they’re sharp, well designed, hold their edges, and presented in a nice block which sits close to my preparation area for quick access.
Jamie: I use Chicago cutlery of all shapes and sizes. I’ve had them for over 30 years and they’re an excellent investment.
Cold Steel Knives
Laurie says: I like wooden and bamboo cutting boards. A 17 x 11 can handle any job in my kitchen, but I find that a 6″ square board gets used a lot! I rarely use soap to clean the boards. Instead, I scald with hot water, scrape clean, and spray with an organic disinfectant after cutting any meat on it.
Large Bamboo Cutting Board
Bamboo Cutting Board Set
Laurie says: I have a large, covered stainless steel roaster pan that I bought 20 years ago. It still looks as good as new. Yes, I roast beef, chicken, turkey, and veggies in it, but it’s also indispensable for mixing large batches of granola or soaked nuts, as a popcorn holder, or a convenient receptacle for gathering garden produce.
Jamie says: Nothing better than a roaster for cooking large amounts. Mine fits two chickens or a small turkey. Buy a good one and it will be a once in a lifetime investment…don’t go cheap!
Stainless Steel Deep Oval Roasting Pan
Laurie says: I currently have a 6 qt. Hamilton Beach, which is where I do all of my broth-making. I have owned many throughout the years and have found that — no matter what brand you get — the ones with old-fashioned controls are more long lasting than the digital ones.
Realistically, I budget to get a new crockpot each year because of the concentrated use it gets. (Word to the wise: keep an eye out at thrift stores for used crockpots from the 70’s and 80’s — they’re much better made! Thrift shops are also a great place to find replacement glass lids.)
Jamie says: Don’t get the crockpots with the fancy timers. As far as settings, you only really need ON, OFF, and VOLUME. (Just kidding about volume…)
Hamilton Beach 6 Quart Crockpot
Laurie says: I have American-made Lodge cast iron. Stay away from foreign-made — they have been found to have adulterated metals in the iron. Don’t take the chance: stick to 100% iron.
I have 10″, 8″, and 5″ square cast iron skillets. I use the 10″ most off for preparing meat and gravy because mine has a pour lip on either side. I also have a bacon press and a 2-burner griddle.
Jamie says: Everyone has a different set of needs, but I use my flat skillet daily. I also have cast iron for muffins and corn cakes. Lodge is the bomb!
Lodge 3 Quart Combo Cooker
Lodge 5 Piece Cast Iron Set
Lodge 12″ Square Grill Pan
Lodge 12″ Square Griddle
Lodge 10.5″ Square Skillet
Lodge 5″ Square Skillet
Lodge Muffin Tin
Lodge 20″ Oblong Griddle
Chain Mail Scrubber (useful for cast iron care)
Laurie says: I have a small Proctor-Silex grinder which is useful for small amounts of nuts, herbs, grain or bean flour, and coffee.
Jamie says: Find a good place to purchase grinders because you will definitely wear yours out!
Laurie says: A Vita Mix has been a major part of my kitchen for 28 years. Shakes, smoothies, soups, pudding, grain grinding, bread/cake/pancake/dessert making, ice crushing, herb blending, vegetable chopping…the list goes on. My first one lasted over 22 years, with minor problems repaired and or replaced by the company — covered by the warranty. When I replaced it with the newest model, I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.
Definitely worth the investment if you are pursuing a modern traditional kitchen because it replaces so many other small appliances — which also translates into saving precious space!
Jamie says: Enough said.
Vita Mix High-Speed Blender
Laurie says: You’ll need a large glass or stainless steel bowl — large and open enough to do a good portion of your stirring and kneading in the bowl. Also, you’ll need a large wooden spoon (or danish whisk) for stirring and accurate measuring cups (1 and 4 cup, at least). A pastry mat is handy for kneading, but a well floured counter/tabletop does the job, too. I have a 4″ pastry knife which makes the job of cutting and forming bread items a cinch — but you can also use a regular table knife.
My bread pans are NorPro. I’ve never bought any other since I first bought them — they work so well and are so durable (currently on their 13th year of service). I never use soap or water on them; wiping them clean with paper towels works fine.
NOTE: These NorPro pans are non-stick. They are high quality non-stick and I treat them carefully so I don’t have to worry about flaking like I would with a cheap non-stick. That said, if you are concerned about potential risks, glass, clay, and ceramic bread pans will work well! Just be sure to grease them very well to keep bread from sticking.
Finally, a small plastic scraper really helps to clean up all those bread tools!
Jamie says: I love clay cookers for bread. I have a flat, rectangular 3/4 inch stone that I use for making round loaves and an oblong, lidded cloche for French loaves that leave the crust crispy and the center chewy. I prefer to use my hands instead of a spatula or a spoon — it allows for the added benefit of feeling for that perfect texture. Wolfgang Puck makes a stainless bowl set that nests and has plastic lids that are perfect for bread making…well…just about anything else (they are perfect wedding gifts, too!).
Glass Mixing Bowl
Metal Mixing Bowl
Wolfgang Puck Mixing Bowl Set
Glass Measuring Cup Set
NorPro 8″, 10″, or 12″ Bread Pan
Glass Loaf Pan
Ceramic Loaf Pan
Clay Loaf Pan
Clay Oblong, Lidded Cloche
Rectangular Baking Stone
Clay 9″ x 13″ Baker
Set of Plastic Scrapers (indispensable for bread/cast iron cleaning)
Large Pot/Stockpot & Dutch Oven
Laurie says: I have a large, stainless steel pot with a lid, which I use for large tomato and broth canning projects, large pots of soup, and as a garden produce bucket. I also own two smaller enamel-covered cast iron pots with lids for smaller-volume soups and oven-top roasting.
Jamie says: This is my main broth-making tool. Indispensable. I could not make large quantities of bone broth without it.
Stainless Steel 20 Quart Stockpot
Enameled 6 Quart Dutch Oven w/ Lid
Kitchen Necessaries & Sundries
Laurie says: Here are some items I use daily — or almost daily! They’re easy to overlook but really make day to day operations easier. Mason jars and sharpies are vital for storage in a traditional kitchen, and I use funnels and metal strainers all the time. My funnels fit both wide and regular mouth canning jars and my strainer sizes are 4″, 5″ and 8″ to accommodate a variety of vessels and purposes. They are always stashed within easy reach because I use them for everything!
Stainless Steel Funnel Set
Stainless Steel Mesh Strainer Set
Wide Mouth Mason Jars
Reusable Plastic Lids for Mason Jars
Mason Jar Labels (handy…or just use sticky notes!)
Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
Laurie says: I have a 9-tray Excalibur Dehydrator. I burned out several of the smaller, cheaper off-brand dehydrators in the past and have come to see the value of investing in a sizable one of quality construction. I wouldn’t recommend anything less than 9 trays if you are serious about making soaked nuts, grains, granolas, yogurt, beef jerky, and preserved organic fruit and vegetables a big part of your traditional foods kitchen.
I especially enjoy dehydrating foods because it creates a wonderful, subtle aroma that lasts in my kitchen for days — especially with foods like cinnamon-drenched granola…or peppermint…
Jamie says: Dehydrators are expensive, but if you have a garden and the motivation, a quality unit will pay for itself quickly. They’re also useful for yogurt making, extra veggies, crispy nuts, and meat jerkies.
Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator (Laurie’s model)
Cabela’s Commercial Dehydrator (Jamie’s model)