My Favorite Tools in the Kitchen.

It's no secret that I love to cook. I am on a personal name basis with half of the ladies who work at my local Williams Sonoma, and I can often be found peppering them with questions about competing products and how they do meal prep. I've even squeezed a few amazing recipes out of them, which are the days when I really count myself lucky. Over the past 8 years or so, I have goofed off in my kitchen, experimenting with different recipes and foods and techniques, all in the name of learning. Stevie has been there for the not-so-great dishes and some of the most spectacular surprises. I'm grateful for him, my professional taste-tester. And I am so grateful that I enjoy my time in the kitchen, because we have to eat either way! Might as well enjoy the process! But truly, making a delicious meal is kind of like art to me - it's peaceful, it's therapeutic, it's spontaneous, it's exhilarating, and it's most definitely creative. And I am totally the creeper that likes to watch people as they bite into something I made - the satisfaction of knowing that I concocted something that someone else can consume and enjoy is so very gratifying. I know. Creeper in the kitchen.

I wanted to share a few items in my kitchen that are the workhorses of the bunch. The almost daily-used tools and machines that are in heavy rotation in and out of my hands while I cook. I couldn't possibly be as efficient without these few amazing tools in my arsenal. I am grateful for the years of Christmas gifts (which most of these have been!), because my kitchen is shaping up rather nicely these days. Though I have an ever-growing list of items that I am constantly on the hunt for, especially if I can find a deal on them. If you're interested in investing in a few stellar cook's gadgets and utensils, here is a personal recommendation for my favorite tools in the kitchen.

Dutch Oven.
This was an enormous game-changer when I received this rad dutch oven for Christmas a few years ago. My Le Creuset Dutch Oven, in the classy shade of Marseille, is my first choice as an investment for the kitchen. This particular pot does it all. You can cook anything on the stove in it, including pan-frying chicken, sauteing vegetables, cooking a stew - anything! And then it transfers to the oven like a dream, thanks to the heat-safe enameled cast-iron. This is where you can braise lamb or slow-cook a roast. This particular item introduced me to "big girl cooking" beyond what I was capable of doing in a regular Pyrex glass dish. And the most amazing thing about this particular dutch oven is that I will have it forever and will it on to family. That's how long Le Creuset holds up - forever! It's quite an investment but completely worth it when you think about how much it will be used over the course of a lifetime of cooking (and eating!) in the kitchen.

Wooden Cutting/Pastry Board.
I discovered this solid wooden Boos Block cutting board a few years ago, when I baked cookies with Mary the Cookie Lady. Some of you might remember that particular post, a time that still lives on in my mind in a hushed reverence of pastry enlightenment. Mary taught me a world of good when it comes to all things sugary and bake-able. And we spent that one special day hard at work on her infamous maple-wooden pastry board. Her particular pastry board was passed down to her from her mother, and I was envious of such a meaningful (and incredibly useful!) item that was ingrained, literally, with such significance to Mary. Every time she cuts on that board or rolls out a fresh batch of cookie dough, she thinks of her mother. And you know what? My darling Aunt Shirley sent me this Boos Block Pastry Board as a housewarming gift a few months ago, when we moved into our new digs. When I say that we use this an overwhelming amount, I mean it. This pastry board stays on my counter top, proudly looking down at all the other flimsy plastic sheets that claim to call themselves cutting boards. This cutting board has upped my chopping skills and when this Whole30 situation is over, I will be kneading some mean Valentines treats on it, as well.

Chef's Knife.
Any great cook will credit their Chef's Knife as a significant player in their daily cooking practice. I received my 8-year old J. Henkels 8-inch Chef's Knife as a wedding gift, and it has certainly done the trick for all these years. I use it everyday to chop and dice 90% of everything you see here in my recipes on the blog. However, I do dream of upgrading to this Wustof Classic Ikon masterpiece sometime in the future.

Cast Iron Skillet.
This Staub Cast-Iron 10-inch Skillet in sapphire blue has me swooning big over it's incredible stove top-to-oven durability. I've been making a frittata almost every single day in this skillet, and it behaves like a non-stick pan, even though that's not one of the main claims of this item's quality. It's pre-seasoned, heats food ridiculously evenly and has that richly-colored enamel coat that just has me dreaming of when i can invest in another!

High-Powered Blender.
Vitamix = Love. LOVE I SAY. My particular model of the Vitamix is the 5200 package from Costco (which is totally the way to buy it, if you ask me - such a deal compared to the regular retail price!) We make EVERYTHING in this thing. Soups, dressings, sauces, smoothies, juices, BABY FOOD, bread mixes of all kinds, desserts, and seriously, the list goes on. It has completely replaced my food processor and we use this thing every day.

Who doesn't love their slow cooker? I'll admit, mine isn't anywhere near fancy, but it doesn't need to be! This 4-Quart Crock-Pot has been our winter go-to for years and years. I love throwing random veggies, meat and stock in the crock-pot and letting it do it's thing for 6-8 hours. Low and slow. That's the way I like to go :)

And that's it! Those are my everyday kitchen favorites. Of course, those aren't all my favorites, but those are the items that I use absolutely every day. Do any of these match up with your everyday used kitchen items? I would love to hear about your favorite cooking utensils!