Welcome to Hi Everyone. I’m so glad you’re here! If you’re reading this and haven’t subscribed, please consider doing so? The newsletter is only once a week, and your support means the world to me. Last week’s installment is all about how I transformed my brows, and I also wrote about must-have makeup products. Also, FWIW, all products mentioned are independently chosen, and some may be affiliate links. Your support is appreciated!
Tomorrow is my five-year wedding anniversary, so as you might have guessed, I’m in my nostalgia feels in a big way. Of any five-year period in my life, this one has yielded the most change, to put it mildly. At this time in 2016, I was enjoying a life of bourbon and impromptu late-night dance parties in my living room and didn’t have any plans for a house or kids. Little did I know that four months later, I would be pregnant with our first kid and that we’d have said baby and buy a house before our first anniversary, followed by a second kid 22 months after the first one. We still have dance parties, but they’re at 6:30 p.m. with our 4-year-old and 2-year-old, and pretty much everything else has changed.
While my life, home, habits, wardrobe, beauty routine, and lifestyle are all different, there is one area of my life that remains pretty consistent: the kitchen. I’ve loved to cook for ages, but truthfully, I didn’t start cooking on a daily basis until I got pregnant—something about making it myself helped calm my food aversions—and then the kids and the pandemic accelerated my dedication to it. The other thing that made cooking more appealing was having better gear. Between wedding gifts, things I’d saved up for, and pieces my husband brought to our marriage, suddenly I had an excellent setup.
So trust me when I say my kitchen recommendations have been tested with solid, near-daily use over the past five years. They’re all good for home cooks of any skill level, and I truly think they’ll make your cooking experience better. Best of all, you really don’t need that much stuff. Sure, there are specialized items that are fun to have, but there are very few pieces I use on a regular basis. Below, find an edited list of the kitchen things that are worth every penny and that get an 11/10 recommendation from me.
While I dork out over cast-iron pans as much as the next home cook enthusiast, the fact is I also need a non-stick pan. The DTC brand Great Jones makes a PTFE- and PFOA-free version with a ceramic coating in two sizes, the 8.5-inch small and a 10-inch Large Fry size as well. I own both and use them all the time for everything from eggs to roast chicken.
There are a zillion options when it comes to Dutch ovens. This 3.5-quart one is my go-to when cooking for two to four people. It’s on the smaller side but big enough to make a batch of my go-to tomato-butter sauce or mac and cheese for the kids. This is also known as the 22 and is an excellent daily piece. If you have something small like this and want a little more room, I can vouch for the 26—also known as the 5.5-quart Dutch oven—which is also excellent but quite a bit more expensive.
Wirecutter named this pan “The Best Cast Iron Skillet for 2021,” but I’ve been singing its praises for a zillion years. If you cook meat, period, you need this skillet, but let the record reflect that it’s also brilliant for Melissa Clark’s brown butter cornbread, if you’re into that kind of thing. I use it for smashburgers, steaks, and brussels sprouts on a regular basis, but it’s pretty excellent for almost everything.
Six months after we got engaged, my husband and I moved in together (yes, that sounds very old-fashioned, but it’s just because we were in our mid-30s and liked our own places), and that meant I got to start using his knives. He has a bunch of them from Shun, but the one we both prefer is the seven-inch Santoku. It’s honestly the only one you really need; it’s lightweight, sturdy, and gets the job done.
There are lots of sheet pans out there, but this is the only one that Wirecutter and Bon App agree on. And me; I like it too. They’re perfect for sheet-pan dinners—again, Melissa Clark is my go-to for these recipes—and are excellent, hardworking tools for roasting just about anything. Plus, they’re pretty indestructible.
Do you need an aggressively priced salad spinner? Absolutely not. But do I love mine? Absolutely. I know this sounds odd, but this is the most satisfying spinner I’ve ever used. At this price, I’m a little annoyed it doesn’t chop the lettuce too, but it does spin your leaves super fast so they’re extra dry, which means the dressing will really stay on, and isn’t that nice?
Again, there’s a reason this thermometer is crazy expensive; it’s because it’s the best and will work for a decade or so. Again, as a Virgo, I did a ton of research before buying it, and it is the top-recommended thermometer from every worthwhile publication. Plus, as someone who owns one and uses it multiple times a week, I can personally tell you that it works brilliantly. This thermometer works in Technicolor and all the other ones are in black-and-white. I’m serious. As someone who has been poisoned by food more than most folks, I feel this gadget is essential for me.
I love an immersion blender, but this one is way more than that! The immersion-blender part is awesome for making baby food (I liked to steam whatever I was making and then use this to blend it in the pot, which allows you to make big batches very easily) as well as soups and sauces. I use the mini food processor part all the time too. If you hate chopping, this thing is definitely going to be your friend. And if you’re into making your own whipped cream, the whisk option is definitely helpful!
KITCHEN NICE-TO-HAVE OPTIONS
A few things I love but aren’t truly essential: adore my Microplane Grater/Zester for everything from lemons to Parm cheese, and the OXO Kitchen Scale is my go-to resource for baking. Last but not least, I know I’ve given you a bunch of skillets/fry pans, but I also love Staub’s enameled cast-iron version.
FWIW: All products mentioned are independently chosen, and some may be affiliate links. Your support is appreciated.
I need just a couple more present ideas; can you keep them going?
Sure thing! I interviewed the amazing stylist Jeanne Yang recently (she dresses Keanu Reeves and Jason Momoa, to name a couple), and she’s really into Vuori’s casual pants for guys. They’re dressier than sweats but just as comfy. Roxanne Assoulin’s Alphabet Soup bracelets are always a hit. Someone in my life is getting these adorable Great Jones mixing bowls. Stylist June Ambrose is the greatest ever, and I love her new line with Puma, especially the Puma x June Ambrose Regal RS Renegade High Top Sneakers, which I have and are so so so good. And last, but not least, buy your fashion and beauty lovers something from Valentino’s beauty line; I love the refillable Rosso Valentino Lipstick in Red Fiesta.