How I decide if something is worth buying
Having lived in a flat in London prior to moving to America 4 years ago, my kitchen had always been pretty teeny. Or at least so it now seems to my Americanized eyes. Space was at a premium in my cupboards and I’ve inherited a reluctance to clutter my worktops (counter tops) with ‘dust catchers’. As much as I am obsessed with hunting for kitchenalia (yep that is a term – check eBay if you don’t believe me), I have always been strict with myself. Before any purchase I ask the questions
- Where will it go?
- How often will I actually use it?
- Do I already own anything/know a technique that does the same job or can be re-purposed?
- Will it be a pain to wash?
- Would I rather spend the money on something else I’d get more pleasure from? (No sniggering at the back)
These questions have, over the years, stopped me buying much of the Lakeland/ Sur La Table catalogue and many of the gadgets on sale in cooking shops. But I’ve had moments of weakness so totally get how tempting it is. I recently parted company with a frying pan in the shape of a tiny heart which I bought for my husband, then boyfriend, on our first valentines together. I held on to that pan for 8 years, grumbling every time it fell on my hand when I was reaching into my cupboard.
It’s a bit like clothes – you know all those experts who tell you to get rid of anything you’ve not worn for a year or that you don’t feel fabulous in? I feel the same about kitchen equipment. Ditch the stuff that you knock over every time you try to find a pan lid. Get rid of the set of ugly china you were given. Donate the 9 water bottles you have and the storage container lids that long ago lost their partners. Do you really need that snowman shaped cake pan?
Store it well
I echo those clothes storage experts who tell you to label your shoes in clear plastic boxes and to fold rather than hang your sweaters. Taking care of your kitchen kit and storing it so you can grab it quickly when you need it could be the thing that gets you cooking more often and enjoying the process more.
Take a look at how I set up my tools in an old champagne bucket – if Diana Vreeland cooked she would have done this. Not only does it save me storing the champagne bucket, which would take up way too much space, but it also means all my tools are in grabbing distance of my stove.
Technique not gadget
One of the things I love doing in my classes is showing people the techniques for quickly and easily accomplishing some kitchen task without resorting to a gadget. I think many of us hope that a gadget or tool will enable us to gain control over a situation where we’re lacking in confidence. Learning the old-fashioned technique is a much better investment of time and money. Check out my videos of the most important techniques you need (I’m adding more of these each week).
That said, there are some bits of kit which I can’t cook without. Head to my post on my essential kitchen kit where you can see what i can’t live without, and buy my most-loved kit through the Amazon links.