This is a list of things that I can’t live without or just plain love in my kitchen.
A colander can be used to drain your pasta and boiled veges, is useful when washing fruit like grapes or salad leaves and is also useful for steaming (metal colander over a pot of boiling water, ingenious). I use a metal one, but if you are going to get a plastic one with a long handle just make sure you get one with a very strong handle as you may find that when you pour a pot of boiled potatoes and water though it, the heat and the weight can make it bend a little and feel like it could buckle/break. Sometimes cheap and simple is good but other times you’ll find that you just get what you pay for.
I love my cookbook stand. It’s cast iron and is decorative as well as functional. My really thick cookbooks don’t always do so well on it and I end up just having it lying flat on the table. But otherwise I love it and it even has little page holders to keep your book open on the right yummy recipe.
Cooking on a gas stove is faster, hotter and somehow everything tastes better. From the click click of the starter, to the whoosh of the gas igniting to the smell of gas… wait.. that’s not right… Alternatively if you have an electric stove and don’t plan on getting a new one soon, you can get one of those portable camping gas stoves if you are particularly keen on cooking some things on gas (for instance, cooking with a wok is infinitely better when done on a gas stove). A portable gas stove is also excellent for having steam boat or shabu shabu meals.
I’m sure you think its obvious that you need a knife in your kitchen but it is absolutely essential that you have good, sharp knives. They will make your life so much easier. Getting good quality knives shouldn’t be underestimated here either. You will find that they stay sharper longer and overall they are much nicer to cut with. You don’t have to go out and spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a set. I bought a nice set of Wiltshire ones in a wooden knife block at a good price just at Kmart and after 2 years I still haven’t had to sharpen them.
This is important to maintain the sharpness of your knives and meat cleaver. I’ve used a few different types and my favourite is still a knife sharpening block. Its just a rectangular block and you simply wet it and sharpen away. I had one of those long stick-types once which was fun and made me feel like I was working in a butcher shop, but the block seems to be easier to store away and compact.
Maybe its an Asian thing but one of the first things I had to have when I left home was a good meat cleaver. I asked my mum to help me to buy a good one and no its not for self-defence. My knives have to be sharp and a cleaver is my favourite thing to cut, chop, slice and squish garlic with. I’ve always gone to a chinese supermarket to buy cleavers, they just seem to always have good ones at very good prices.
Get a good sturdy one. It can be plastic or metal but its best that the handle is centred on the head to get better distribution of mashing pressure. I have one that had the handle attached to the side of the mashing end and it always felt like it was going to break. Once I replaced it with a centred one it made all the world of difference.