Daily Life | Recipes

The Kitchen Tools That Make Me Feel Like Cooking

I normally do not enjoy cooking and preparing meals every night. Ed and I enjoy going out to dinner but since mid-March, that came to an abrupt halt and cooking at home every night became “a thing”.

I had to get with the program and find ways to learn the pleasures of cooking meals that would not only sustain us, but be delicious. Or I could rely on takeout that was causing us to gain weight and that often times didn’t even taste good.

white recipe box on counter

Over the summer, it seems we will still be staying at home with only an occasional night out at restaurants with outdoor seating, so cooking meals every night will continue.

So what is a girl to do that doesn’t like to cook? Find ways to make it enjoyable is what. That is what I have been trying to do and in the process, I find in a small way that I am…… turning into a foodie.

I looked up the definition of a “foodie” just to be sure. A foodie can be defined as someone with a keen interest in food rather than being a connoisseur. A foodie is just as likely to be interested in food truck fare as they are in bouillabaisse. Viewed another way, they have the adventurous spirit of a wine geek as opposed to the refinement of a wine connoisseur.

A foodie can also be defined as that person who has to take a deep breath to calm their excitement before entering a store like William Sonoma and being immersed in all things cooking… to browse through the cookbooks and gadgets, pointing out “have it, have it… have it… ooh! Need it!”

Vance Industries Surface Saver in counter glass cutting board. Framed art on wall says eat good food.

Yes, these definitions describe my growing interest in food the past few months. Finding meal inspiration, recipes, preparation methods for – simple food, prepared deliciously and seasoned just right. The kind of food that makes a memory in your mind as the most delicious thing you have ever eaten.

Herb snips and Herb chopping scissors in an open kitchen drawer.

Back in April, I started to find ways to enjoy preparing a meal every night. I gathered my recipe box and my iPad, where I can easily read food and recipe blogs and even bought a few cooking magazines at the supermarket.

Open kitchen drawer showing all the tools inside. Text overlay says what each item is - Mini Strainer Spreaders, Knife Sharpener, Immersion Blender, Chef's Knife, Microplane, Herb Snips

I organized my kitchen tools and gadgets, placing the ones I use the most in their own drawer for ease of use. And while I was at it, I couldn’t neglect the decorator in me and lined the drawers and wood tray with wipeable gift wrap.

Having the right tools as I prepare a meal gives me that feeling you get when you walk into a William Sonoma or gourmet food store and see the incredible array of cooking implements. It is hard to not be inspired to want to cook better, armed with the best tools to whip up almost any dish.

My Kitchen Tools That Make Me Feel Like Cooking

  • Mini Strainer– Having one of these little cup size strainers comes in very handy when working with small amounts of foods where it would be overkill to use a regular size strainer/colander.
  • Spreaders – I have had these white ceramic handled spreaders for years. I use them for anything that needs to be spread and when entertaining. If I ever need to buy new ones, these spreaders made by French Bull are eye-catching.
  • Immersion Blender – I wrote about this blender in a recent Style Scouting post. It is my favorite of all my tools. I make a lot of soup and this allows me to blend a chunky texture soup to a creamy texture right in the pot it is cooking in. No need to transfer to a standalone counter style blender.
  • Lemon Juicer – I don’t know how I lived without this handheld lemon/lime juicer. It was in ab “attendees swag bag” I received from a Martha Steward event in NYC I attended a few years ago.
  • Herb Snips– These really aren’t officially a “kitchen tool, but I made them into one as they are the perfect size to snips herbs from a garden.
  • Herb Chopping Shears – These shears are the newest addition to my kitchen tools. After snipping herbs from the garden with the above mentioned herb snips and bringing them into the kitchen, these shears make fast work of chopping the herbs right into whatever I am making.
  • Microplaner – I bought this back when we still lived in Pennsylvania. It is an Ina Garten recommended tool. I use it to finely grate citrus peels and hard cheeses.
  • Chef’s Knife & Knife Sharpener– I learned how to use a chef knife by chance when walking through Bloomingdales one morning about 20 years ago. A Wüsthof knife rep was doing a cooking demo and showing how to cut with a chef’s knife. I was so happy to learn how to use a knife the right way. It makes food prep a whole lot easier. This Knife Skills Guide provides a good overview of the requisite knife skills.
  • Wooden Spoons – Mine are getting old. I can usually find basic ones at HomeGoods, but I am thinking about splurging on this set.
Black and Decker Mini Chopper on kitchen counter.
  • Mini Food Chopper – My brother gave me this little chopper over 30 years ago. It may be yellowed with age, but is still going strong. I use it to chop nuts, carrots and other tough to chop food as well as grind coarse ingredients to a fine texture.

And I can’t forget…

  • Stemless Wine Glasses – With a glass of red wine in hand, I feel elegantly French while I prepare, chop, simmer, grill or sauté. :-)

Food Prep on a Kitchen Island

Movable metal rolling island in a small white kitchen.

Since adding this small, but very needed island to my small kitchen has made a big difference in the way I can prepare food.

Just last week I restyled the cart/island so I feel like I am a chef in a popular bistro. I will share what I did with it next week. It looks a little different from the above photo.

Tin can vase on a stack of books on a kitchen counter.

Before March, I had never been that interested in food, except for finding good recipes for entertaining. Most of these I have gotten from friends and family and not from cookbooks or watching the Food Network.

The only real “foodie” thing I have ever done is enjoy Ina Garten and her cookbooks, not only for the simple recipes, but also for her Hamptons lifestyle.

2 More Ways I Have Found To Enjoy Cooking

How to paint outdoor planters for growing herbs. Line up of teal painted planters in yard.
  1. Having fresh herbs and a small veggie garden is something we created when we moved to the lake. It is nice to be able to add fresh herbs to everything I make and pick a vegetable to prepare and eat right away.
  2. When Ed and I were in France last fall, I bought some French pantry staples to bring home. My two favorites are this Mustard and this Sea salt. Buying these made me feel a little like Ina with her Metro-shelf lined pantry filled with gourmet brands and condiments.

As the saying goes…

Having the right tool, makes any job easier.

Making use of the right kitchen tools, I am starting to feel more like a foodie and can say with each passing day, I am getting into it. No worries though – DIY and Decorating will always be my “main thing”. :-)

What cooking tools do you use on a daily basis that make cooking more enjoyable for you instead of a chore?

Kitchen drawer open to show tools. Text overaly says Kitchen Tools That will make you want to cook.

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23 Comments

  1. Thank you for the insight. I would have never thought to put a whole chicken in the crock pot. I will definitely be trying this, we eat a lot of chicken! :o)persian recipes

  2. With respect to wooden spoons, I remember all the “cooks” in my family to use exclusively. When I questioned any of them on why they used wooden spoons over plastic, they never gave me an answer other than “that’s just what I’ve always used”. Can you shed some light on why someone would choose a wooden spoon vs any others?

    Thanks in advance!

    Rachel

    http://www.homesweethomestore.com

  3. Diane, what are the containers you are using for your herbs? They are nice looking, and I’m hoping they’re a polypropylene and not wood! Can you share the source?

    1. Hi Lori – The containers that my herbs are in are resin barrel style planters. They were left by the previous owner. I painted them turquoise using chalk paint. You can see what they used to look like in this post that show them bleached from the sun: https://inmyownstyle.com/making-outdoor-chalk-paint.html

      In this post you can see them on my deck in the color that they are sold which is two shades of brown and a few different sizes: https://inmyownstyle.com/outdoor-living-room.html

      You can find them at most garden and home improvement stores or on Amazon – see here: https://amzn.to/38uZeno

  4. Good morning!! …always enjoy your posts. Just ordered myself a chopper similar to yours. However, there is one thing I think you might want to add to your drawer. I’m a recent convert to the danish whisk. Game changer. I can mix stiff concoctions quickly and easily using this tool and it’s FLAT so fits so easily in the drawer. Wooden handled and available on amazon.
    https://smile.amazon.com/TEEVEA-Danish-Whisk-Stainless-Dough/dp/B07CKKDBF1/ref=sr_1_7?crid=4IILKE8YU5X3&dchild=1&keywords=danish+whisk+stainless+steel&qid=1592928810&sprefix=danish+whisk%2Caps%2C224&sr=8-7#

  5. My cuisinart set of knives and non-porous cutting boards are my most used daily tools in the kitchen. Having really sharp knives makes all types or preparation so much easier.
    Love your blog and get so many ideas from it for my home. I love decorating as well. I made the Styrofoam valance over my main floor laundry room window. It was the jumping off point for a complete makeover. Thanks for your great ideas and thorough instructions.

  6. My cuisinart set of knives and non-porous cutting boards are my most used daily tools in the kitchen. Having really sharp knives makes all types or preparation so much easier.

  7. I love to cook and this pandemic had me return to recipes that stretch the food but also stretch the waistline! I gained between 10 and 13 pounds in two months of no activity. Now, I can’t seem to shed this weight. I’m having a hard time getting around and find that after being inside for so long I’m no longer steady on my feet.
    I find dieting very difficult right now. It seems the only pleasure we have is eating. It’s overwhelming, I feel like I’m going crazy.

  8. The B&D mini food chopper I discovered several years ago and asked my sister for it for my birthday. Once vidaiia onions are available it’s my go to chopper. Vidalia dip is my signature appetizer. 1 cup chopped vidalia onion, 1 cup Hellman’s LITE mayo (regular mayo too greasy), 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese. Mix together, put in small baking dish, sprinkle with paprika and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with wheat thin or triscuit crackers. ENJOY!

  9. I love my Calphalon nylon 2 piece omelet set (a spatular and a fork) and use it constantly. The spatula is just the right size and turns things beautifully. I got a Zeroll ice cream scoop that has heat conductive handles so you can easily scoop even rock hard ice cream. I cook a lot with glass cookware/bakeware. It shows your food top to bottom so you can see what’s going on. It’s tough too, never had a break or crack. I always cook with cast iron cookware (handed down) unless I need nonstick. Cooking isn’t my favorite job either. I also use those food delivery systems (Home Fresh, Blue Apron, etc.). It’s a bit expensive, but I add to what they send and am able to stretch the meals and they have good recipes. I don’t do this every week, but when I need a break or I’m just not feeling inspired, it really does help.

  10. Welcome Linda! Diane is such a life saver because she’s so practical and down to earth. I have been a follower of her for several years.

    Thank you Janet G for the great tip on the measuring spoons! I ordered a set.

    Diane, I thought when I retired I’d have more time to do some wonderful cooking. WRONG!!! I’m usually too pooped by the end of the day to make an exciting meal. My favorite kitchen tools are a pressure cooker/slow cooker, food processor, cutting board and 8″ chef’s knife. There’s also a 2-quart stainless kettle that I just love as well as my cast iron Dutch oven and frying pans. I’ve been watching “Guys Grocery Games” which I think is a lot of fun and has given me tips on some food items I’ve never heard of. I like watching it because while the contestants are professional chefs, they don’t have time to cook really sophisticated meals, but their ingredients can be intriguing. I always try to have a note pad handy so I can write down some of the ingredients they use. It’s fun.

  11. Probably my favorite tools are my knives. But I wish for a small food processor, a kitchen/food scale & a small timer that I can take with me out of the kitchen. My stove timer bit the dust some time ago. Oh yes, a table mixer with a dough hook. That last one I may never get (in time to actually get to use it).

  12. I love to cook. My favorite everyday essentials are my 3 ceramic knives, bamboo cutting boards, and a vintage plastic strainer with a handle that drains just the right amount of pasta, canned beans, or vegetables that need a rinse. Like you, I’m cooking for two. I use my 30-year old Revere copper-bottom saucepans and skillets daily.

    I also count on “my staff” — blender, food processer, crockpot, microwave, immersion blender, bread machine, and standing mixer.

    For people who don’t like to cook, I think making double recipes that yield leftovers or portions that can be frozen is a big assist. I recently suggested to a friend who says she’s getting tired of cooking that she take advantage of supermarket offerings that give you a headstart but are still healthful, like roasted chicken, frozen vegetables, salad mixes, and jarred sauces.

    I also think getting recipes from reliable sources is helpful. I don’t like to use a recipe from a blogger who may have made the dish a few times. I’ll look for sites that have tested the recipe repeatedly so I know I won’t be surprised with the results.

    Enjoy your summer, Daine!

  13. There are a lot of ideas here that are perfect for every home! Thank you for the idea of the kitchen island. I have been trying to solve the problem of leaving my coffeemaker & cups out and taking up valuable counter space. I have a 10 foot island with a double sink, but I found a cabinet style cart (after following your Walmart link ) I can place at the end of the island & there is a plug located there. Perfect solution?

  14. After coming across your Blog/Website for the first time a few days ago, I feel like I have a new sympathetic friend and community. These days I live alone and enjoy cooking, gardening and life. Thank you.

    1. Welcome, Linda! I’ve been a regular reader for several years and it’s a great community! Diane shares on lots of topics and has so many clever ideas. Hope you enjoy this blog for years to come!

  15. The B&D mini food chopper is my husband’s favorite gadget. It’s become a family tradtion. We gave one to my mother-in-law & now everyone gets one as a gift. It is a little powerhouse. Ours is over 20 years old and it works like a charm

  16. I do not like to cook but I do like to bake. We eat healthy 80% of the time – my husband more so than I. We eat out for lunch twice a week. I say, eat out, but it was take out until this month. We use the InstantPot to steam vegetables twice daily. That is probably my favorite “tool”. Our older daughter’s family are foodies. My grandson turned eight last Monday and cookbook was on his list. I highly recommend both of the America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks for kids on Amazon. He has already made the Key Lime bars. He has Mimi’s sweet tooth!

  17. I find that for budget reasons, I always do without or make do with what I have. Recently, I got fed up with my measuring spoons, mostly due to a packaging change with my favorite spices because my spoons no longer fit in the jars. I ordered a set of affordable new measuring spoons that have a round end AND an oblong end and they now fit in any spice jar. They are magnetic and stick together in the drawer and they’re pretty. This was a turning point and I now want all the useful tools! I cook all the time and did so before the pandemic… having the right tools is a definite must! Link to my spoons, just to share.
    Spring Chef Magnetic Measuring Spoons Set, Dual Sided, Stainless Steel, Fits in Spice Jars, Multi-Color, Set of 8 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T45JR55/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_BDH7EbMNREQR6

  18. I love my Pampered Chef garlic press. I’ve had it for 15 years or so. It still does its job beautifully! Thanks for sharing. I think even those who like to cook are feeling a bit overwhelmed these days with three meals for all the people.

  19. I am 72 and have never enjoyed cooking, but since starting to eat whole food plant based over two years ago, I had to start cooking more and eating out less. Our waistlines and blood work have thanked us for that. My two favorite “helpers” in the kitchen are my Vitamix and my new Breville food processor that not only mixes, chops, and slices, but also dices food into 3 difference sizes! It saves me so much time, which my bad back is happier about.

  20. You, me & Ina….we’ve got this! My favorite daily cooking tool is a mini silicone cutting board…it’s about 6 inches X 9 inches & I literally use it for cutting everything!

  21. Ha! Yes…I’ve been in the kitchen a whole lot more! We are retired, and like you, enjoy going out occasionally. But this…cooking 7 days a week with an occasional take out? It’s a bit much. I have enjoyed though, trying new recipes, and have found some keepers. So, I’ve tried to make it fun! One thing that does make it easier is having the right tool for the job at hand. So thanks for the list. And yes…kitchen stores, Ina Garten, recipe books? Favorite pastimes other than gardening! Stay safe! ;)