Smart cooks make their life as simple as possible. There are certain kitchen tools I just couldn’t live without. Again, simplicity is key. If you don’t have lots of bakeware, kitchen gadgets, or tons of money to go buy them don’t despair. Sugar and gluten free baking doesn’t require any special, high-dollar tools. Here are favorite time saving tricks and tips so you can incorporate them into your Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free kitchen.
• Mise en place is a French term that means having all ingredients ready and prepared up to the point of actually cooking the dish. This is what they do on TV – everything is measured and ready to go before the actual combining of ingredients takes place. I do this for anything I’ve never baked or cooked before so I can place my full attention on the actual preparation. When it comes to food I’ve cooked over and over again I do this 95% of the time only because it makes life easier and dishes more foolproof. I love these nesting bowls for storing chopped ingredients. I always have the right size and they take up less space in the cabinet!
• Flour Sifter – This little gadget is my key to lightening gluten free baked goods and getting the lumps out of cocoa powder & palm sugar.
• Silicone Rubber Spatulas – I can’t ever have enough of these handy spatulas. Gluten-free batters and doughs are much stickier than wheat dough so when spreading a cake batter into a pan I spray the spatula with cooking spray and then spread the batter evenly. I keep them in a crock on my counter so they’re easily within reach.
• Microplane – Whoever thought of this little gadget has my heart! I use this daily for grating parmesan cheese, garlic, carrots, carob – anything that you need to grate quickly and easily. It’s easier to clean and much simpler to use than a box grater. They come in different sizes, too.
• Extra measuring cups and measuring spoons – I don’t think I could ever have enough measuring cups and spoons. It seems I find a way to dirty them all. My measuring spoons sit in a small glass jar on my counter so I can easily find them when I’m cooking.
• Whisks – I use both stainless steel and silicone coated whisks depending on what pans I’m using. The silicone coated whisks help me whip up sauces in my non-stick cookware without ruining the coating.
• KitchenAid Stand Mixer – Again, this is a pricey kitchen tool. A stand mixer isn’t essential. It’s more like a luxury. I use mine daily. It frees up my hands to do other tasks and it mixers much quicker than a whisk or an electric hand mixer. I also love making homemade ice cream – the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment works beautifully. I’ve had mine for almost 20 years and it’s still running.
• Mini-Food Processor – For a long time I chopped everything by hand. Unless I need something to be a particular dice for a very good reason, I throw it in my mini-food processor and in 5 seconds it’s chopped and ready to go.
• Full-Size Food Processor – These are much more expensive than the mini-food processor so if you don’t have one that’s ok. I do like mine to make some dough in and to chop or grate large quantities. If you can’t afford one today, keep your eyes out for a used one or start saving a little money here and there until you can buy one. You won’t regret the purchase. I’ve had my Cuisinart for almost 20 years – crazy, right? I’ve never had to replace anything on it. I love that machine.
• Parchment Paper – I love this silicone coated paper for easy clean up when baking anything on a baking sheet. I also use it to line the bottom of my baking tins with. No stick and no mess.
• Heavy duty and regular aluminum foil – Smart cooks make clean up quick and easy by lining their baking sheets with foil.
• Wax paper – Different from parchment paper because you can’t put it in the oven but it’s perfect for sifting flour on or grating anything. I use wax paper to separate anything I’m freezing, like hamburger patties, chicken breasts, or even cake layers.
• Ziploc bags in all sizes – Freezer or refrigerator, these bags are great for storing, mixing, and marinating. Clean-up is simple and they’re easy to label, too.
• Plastic wrap – My favorite type is actually Wal-Mart’s brand. It’s called Sam’s Choice Premium Wrap and it will stick to anything. I’ve heard good things about the Kirkland brand too!
• A well stocked, organized pantry is essential! (Check out what I keep in my pantry for sugar-free treats here!) It took me a while to learn this but now I make sure that I never run out of anything. I keep a running list of what I need to buy on my refrigerator at all times. If I start to run low, I just write it down so I can easily pick up what I need next time I’m at the store. I love these notepads– they are so cute!
• Cookbook Stand – I love this- and yes I still use paper cookbooks! Mine folds so I can put it away when not in use. It saves lots of counter space and I don’t have to stack dishes on top of my cookbook when I’m baking anymore. I also keep a pen with my stand so I can easily make any notations about changes I’m making while cooking. The best thing about this stand is it can hold my iPad too!
• Ruler – I have a wooden ruler that I use to measure and cut dough and pastries. I can put it right in the dishwasher, too.
Those are my favorite basic kitchen essentials! Is there anything I missed? What would you add?