Vegetarian Kitchen Essentials: Part II

>> Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We posted a list of -- what we consider to be -- useless kitchen gadgets back in February. Before that, we offered up a list of our kitchen essentials, and we promised you all a Part II post. Been a while, eh? Well, this is THAT post.

We wanted to let time and recipes dictate our inclusions, not simple research. These are items we use EVERY DAY. Plus, all the items on this list are relatively affordable. Some of them are downright cheap!

  1. Manual Can Opener. No need for anything fancy. But choosing one with the ability to open beer and soda bottles is helpful, too. We cook and bake with tons of canned foods, so the other day when I couldn't find the opener, I was left scrambling around. I couldn't imagine life without one. Average cost: $10 to $15. (Yeah. Who DOESN'T have a can opener? But what I'm saying is -- cook with more canned foods!)
  2. Whisk. I use a whisk for everything. Especially when making my own sauces. Of course, many recipes call for your to whisk ingredients. I also use mine to incorporate dry ingredients before adding wet in baking (instead of sifting). I like whisks that are made of metal and that have a good seal where the whisk-y parts meet the handle (there's nothing worse than having old water leaking out into your food -- ick!). Average cost? $11.
  3. Food Processor. I put this on the list last time when I only had my 3-cup chopper. But since I got my 11-cup, my world has changed completely. For $130 (and often less) you get can get a great quality food processor. Without it, I couldn't make my own peanut butter (I haven't bought PB in the store in months!), many of my veggie burgers, etc.
  4. Rimmed Baking Sheets. I recommend having a pair on hand. I liked using rimmed baking sheets because they're versatile. You can use them for baking cookies AND roasting veggies -- without worrying in the juices make their way to the bottom of your oven. Average cost: $25 for a pair.
  5. Silicone or Pop-Up Steamer. When Stephen bought this one, I honestly thought it was a bit silly at first. I usually just steam my veggies in the microwave. But the gadget comes in handy. Just fill a pan (one with a cover) partially with water, plop in the steamer, and then toss in the veggies and cover. Works like a charm. Here's the one we have: VeggieSteam ($11).
  6. Parchment Paper. Or a silicone baking mat (though, I really do prefer parchment). Oh, and wax paper. It makes baking and dipping easy and fun. There's little clean-up. No worries about sticking and burning. And a single roll of each lasts through many batches of chocolate chippers (parchment) and energy chunks (wax). Average cost: $3 per roll.
  7. Mason Jars. Traditionally used for canning. But I use them for EVERYTHING. To bake in. To store bulk foods. To transport my morning oatmeal to work with me. To decorate in a pinch if we're having guests. To throw loose change into. Literally everything. You can get a package of 12 for like $15!
  8. Cast Iron Dutch Oven. OK this is only an essential if you love bread baking as much as I do. And it is another one to add to your holiday gift lists. A dutch oven will allow you to make the crustiest, best-ever no-knead breads on the planet. In your very own kitchen. So, while it isn't an ESSENTIAL, it's a LOVE. Average cost for 6-quart can range from $50 to $250. I recommend checking out Home Goods or TJ Max.
  9. Am I missing anything? Tell us what YOUR favorites are! And if you haven't yet, check out our first post with many more vegetarian kitchen essentials . . .

We made another batch of those Change-Your-Life Vegan Brownies this weekend. This time, without nuts. And with dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet. By the way, thanks so much for sharing with us all your tattoo stories! We loved reading all your comments are emails!


What you'll need . . .
  • 3 tablespoons water whisked with 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white-whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 7 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance (or substitute)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the method . . .

Just visit Mattie's recipe. The only change we made was to the ingredients list, not the method. Hey -- if it ain't broke, don't tinker with it! Well, that's not always the case, but with vegan brownies THIS good -- leave it alone.

What do you think of our kitchen picks? Do you use these items? Or do you have other suggestions to add? Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com. And don't forget! Today's your last day to enter the Mighty Leaf Tea Giveaway!

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