Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kitchen Inventory - Baking

I've been cooking a lot more lately, and so have some of my friends. We've been comparing notes on recipes and weekly menus, and so I have lists on my mind. I thought I would put together a list of my most-used kitchen tools (starting with baking). Just in case anyone was interested in knowing what I've picked up and learned from mistakes over the years.
Yes, pretty much everything I own is from Sur la table. I love that shop! because they have everything in a range from cheap to expensive and so many varieties, you can really apply every criterion you might want to consider to every item you select. My other favorite place for kitchen tools is Cost Plus World Market. Their prices are always low and everything I have bought there has really lasted.


I have a Kitchen-aid stand mixer. I'm sure that's what everyone goes for in the category of technological assistance. I have lived without a hand mixer for about 6 years (broke mine mixing a batch of cookie dough) and just recently bought a new one. Haven't used it yet ;-)


I like having the different sizes.
I bought these at Crate & Barrel a very long time ago [Amazon].
The biggest one is cracked from a fall, so I recently added two of these so that I'd have more than one BIG bowl [Sur la table]

I just got these bamboo mixing spoons [Sur la table]. They are AMAZING! You don't feel like they are going to snap at any moment when you are mixing up a big batch of something.

I have a large balloon whisk my brother got me for Christmas at Williams-Sonoma one year. I also have a small one that I use for gravy and little batches.


I have a couple sets of measuring spoons. I think it's because I'm neurotic. I like to have a set for wet, dry, and a spare for if the other two are dirty.
I use these for measuring dry ingredients. I like them because they fit inside of spice jars [Cost Plus].

My set for wet is like these, but I bought them at the grocery store.

This is the spare set. I thought I'd like them because they have the two shapes - oval and round [Sur la Table] - jury is still out.

I have one set of measuring cups. I like these because the shape is uniform, and the tops are even/flat making it easy to level off dry ingredients. I wish my set had 2/3 cup and 3/4 cup. It looks like the new Sur la table set does, but I can't justify that cost for something I already have. edited: I went ahead and bought these Sur la table ones. I like that they are rounded at the bottom because dry things don't get "stuck".

So, what I did was get a set of these prep bowls with marked measures [Sur la table]. I love using them for measuring wet ingredients because you can fill to the inside line and have room in the bowl so that you don't spill when you take your ingredient to your mixing bowl; alas, they have no 2/3 cup.

I have a set of these prep bowls too [Sur la table]. I do use them - they are great for melting butter in the microwave - but they have no standard measures (I've tried to figure it out!), so wouldn't recommend them.

I like to have two sizes of measuring jugs - a 4 cup and a 2 cup. For some reason, I just don't like using my pyrex one. I have this 2-cup jug that I bought at a grocery store years ago that I love. It's like a tall glass, but with measures. The bad thing about it is that the plastic has no tolerance for heat. So over the years of measuring hot things and putting it in the dishwasher, it just can't retain liquid anymore. I cannot throw it away! because I can't find something that replaces it adequately; and so it sits, unusable, in my cupboard.
My latest attempt at replacement is this Oxo cup. I just really wanted to never get one of these stupid slanted stupid measuring cups, but since I seem to have an aversion to the glass ones, I thought I'd give it a try. I know, a lot of strum and drang over measuring jugs!

Everyone's 4-cup jug, right? [Sur la table]

My new trial 2-cup [Sur la table] - [4/3/2014 edited] did not like it!

[4/3/2014 edited] Found this one, LOVE it!! [Sur la Table]

I use this sieve. I love it. Fits perfectly in the large mixing bowls so I can add all dry and then sieve [Cost Plus].

I keep this little off-set spatula in my measuring drawer and use it to level dry ingredients instead of a knife [Sur la table].

I have an all-metal apple slicer that I like because everything is one piece, nothing to give way when you press. I think I got it at Cost Plus, here is one that would work for the same reasons from Sur la table.

I recently added an apple corer to my tools, but that was actually for pears [Sur la table].

I use a pastry blender that has fixed "tines". I hate how the single strand of metal ones bend in. You want your cutter to cut, not mash [Sur la table].

I also have a miscellaneous assortment of tools in the baking drawer - to include a plastic ruler, plastic scraper, measuring spoons and a mini mortar and pestle. I like to say that since I don't like cooking, the more toys I have to play with while I cook the better.

I have a series of spatulas that I like for different reasons.
These are like big spoons that scrape [Sur la table] - I have two. Great for getting your batter out of the bowl and for scraping the sides of a mixing bowl.

I just got this double-sided one from Sur la table to help get things out of jars [Sur la table]. Love it!

and I got these two little ones in case the big one didn't work [Amazon] (I bought them at Slt this past summer - I can't believe they no longer sell them already!). I use them all the time too. All great purchases.

Of course, I have a couple random scrapers that came with other tools - food processors mostly. But I do use this straight one a lot, especially in the bowl for the mixer to scrape down the sides [Amazon] - doesn't seem to be available at Slt anymore.

Sheets, Trays, and Plates

I bake cookies on two aluminum cookie sheets [Sur la table]. The price tags on the bottom of mine are still there, and say $10.95. Yikes, they have gone up in price!

I have two silpat sheets for these, but I rarely use those [Sur la table]. I like to use parchment paper instead. When I bake cookies it's usually a lot of batches. I like to have 4 pieces of parchment and set-up 2 sheets while two are in the oven. Pull baked cookies and their parchment off the cookie sheet, pull next two sets of parchment onto the sheets to bake. You can't really do that with silpat because it's too flexible.

I have a set of stacked drying racks from Cost Plus that I bought a long time ago. They are seriously "cheap", but I have no complaints and no reason to replace them.

I recently got this silicone loaf pan because I hated how the metal/teflon ones started to degrade [Sur la table]. I mostly bake banana break and meatloaf in a loaf pan.

I got a new metal pan just in case the silicone needed supporting - as suggested in reviews - but I find that the silicone is stable enough on it's own [Sur la table].

I have a 12-cup and a 6-cup cupcake sheet [Sur la table]. I have been using silicone cupcake holders [Sur la table]. I'm ok with them, but not wow'd.

I have the usual assortment of cake, spring-form, and pie plates, but I find that I always go back to two.

A decorative one I got at Sur la table that is Boleslawiec. I can't find my design online, but if you do a search, you get the idea. I think it is beautiful.

and two clear pyrex ones [Sur la table]. These get used for quiche and pie over and over again.

Finally, pie weights [Sur la table]. I used to use an assortment of legumes. I had bought them to fill door draft stoppers, and put the left overs in a jar for pie weights. What that means, is you have to cover your pie crust with something to contain all those legumes, and then carefully pour them off of the foil/parchment back into the jar. I just got sick of it. And after, oh, 8 years (last year was that year), I bought this metal string pie weight. I have not not yet used it. I stayed away from those ceramic balls for the same reason the legumes drive me nuts. Let's hope this chain works.

and now here I am an afternoon later realizing that I am insane!
Let's see if I can reprise this for the cooking tools!
A lot are repeats - prep bowls, mixing, etc - but of course there would be the pots and pants, knives, cutting boards, oy, I'm dying of boredom just thinking about this silliness!

anyway - a list of baking tools.
and, in the event my house burns down, I'll have an easy list to replace my favorites, right?!

What's going on in the winter garden

I pruned the roses the 2nd week in January. There were already shoots, so that is too late!

The bulbs are already starting to come up. We had two small snow days, so I hope that wasn't too much for them.

Wed is supposed to be 69, and then back down to freezing.
I am worried we are going to have another spring like last year, and all the plants will get confused... again.

This weekend I ordered the things I want to put into the ground this spring:

Hollyhocks - in front of the gutter downspout.
Sweet peas - on the trellis. If the weather is like last year, this won't work again.
Nasturtiums - all around. They did well last year, and may self-seed, if not; I have backups.
Zinnia - going to start getting zinnia going.
Three varieties of lavender - we are going to take out the scrawny bushes in the front "island" bed and replace with these lavenders. I may just plant the whole bed with lavender (around the bulbs, of course).