HMK Wedding Registry Extravaganza
Happy Anniversary loyal HMK readers! Believe it or not, John and I have been married for a whole year today and that signifies one very important thing – the blog lasted a year too! So to anyone who’s been reading it since the beginning (our moms), thanks for sticking around! For our big anniversary post, we wanted to do something a little different.
Throughout our inaugural year of marriage the question we got most often was probably the classic “how is life different now that you’re married!?” By and large the answer was a resounding “it’s not.” I mean, we’ve been living together for a few years now (yes, “sin kitchen,” as we affectionately call it, was established long before the “honeymoon kitchen”), we’ve had a dog together for almost as long, and I’ve been treating John’s money as my own for even longer! (Love you sweetie!) So it took some serious thinking to really come up with any big differences. But after some time, it hit us – getting married earned us a totally killer kitchen! Not to brag or anything, but we rocked out at the whole registry thing. So much so that we’ve had a lot newly engaged friends asking for registry tips lately. So we thought what better commemoration of the blog’s first year than to give a shout out to all the fabulous kitchen tools that made it possible – and of course a HUGE thank you to all the wonderfully generous wedding and shower guests who helped create the HMK, one Le Creuset dish at a time!
Please note that if you like to cook, and your guests are aware of it, you will receive at least 5 aprons 🙂
- I always start with knives. If you only read one thing in this list, read this: YOU DO NOT NEED A WHOLE BLOCK OF KNIVES. You need a knife block, as in the wooden thing with holes to store your knives, but buying a random set of knives is a total waste of money. You will live and die never knowing what some of those knives are for. Fact. Here is what you need:
- A chef’s knife. Two if you and your betrothed enjoy chopping things at the same time, as we obviously do. This is the most important knife in your kitchen and the most worthy of a splurge. Even if you’re not registered there, I recommend going to Sur La Table if you have one near by because they will let you try them out with potatoes. They all have different ergonomics, so you’ll definitely like some better than others. My knife is an 8″ Wusthof. John’s is an 8″ Shun.
- A bread knife. This doesn’t have to be as much of a splurge, but you definitely need it. We have the 8″ Wusthof.
- A paring knife.
- Kitchen scissors.
- A honing steel. Quick knife 101 lesson. Sharpening a knife means actually removing bits of metal to redevelop a sharp edge. You can only sharpen a knife so many times before you’ve shaved it all away. They do sell home knife sharpeners, but we get ours sharpened at Sur La Table for like $2/inch. I’d be concerned about damaging the knife or overdoing it if we did it ourselves, since our knives are expensive. Honing a knife means realigning the metal that’s there into a straighter line. This we do at home frequently and so should you.
Pots and Pans
- High-quality, heavy-bottomed stainless steel pots. If you are sad that you couldn’t get your kicks registering for a knife set, we’ll let you earn them back in this section. You are more than welcome to register for a pot set, if you think you have a wedding guest generous enough to buy you hundreds of dollars of pots. We were lucky enough to have just such a guest in John’s parents, so we are the proud owners of this All-Clad set, which includes an 8″ fry pan, 10″ fry pan, 2-quart covered saucepan, 3-quart covered saute, 3-quart covered casserole and 8-quart casserole. To that we added a 6-quart covered saute and 4-quart covered saucepan, which really come in handy if you entertain a lot.
- 1 nonstick skillet. I don’t really care for non-stick pans. No matter what jibber jabber the sales guy gives you about getting a sear on meat with them, or how long the great new special coatings will last you, they are generally crap. Stainless steel will last you forever, and as long as you have a steel wool sponge and perhaps the patience for an overnight soak they are not hard to clean. They are the ONLY pots that will sear meat properly and that can be deglazed for that unbeatable layer of flavor. There is, however, one exception to my rule: eggs. Eggs are impossible to cook well in stainless steel. I highly recommend one nonstick skillet for your breakfast enjoyment.
- Mulit-cooker. This is just one of those big stock pots that has the nested steaming basket and pasta pot. We have a 12-quart. It’s good to have one really ridiculously big pot, just in case. Plus you might want to steam something.
- Dutch ovens. I pluralized it because we have 3. But we are not normal, and 1 would likely be plenty. Dutch ovens are the most amazing, versatile pots out there. They can go on the stove top as well as in the oven. They are absolutely the dish of choice for risottos, stews, braised meats, chilis, pot pie fillings and basically anything gloppy and delicious. I’d recommend a 4-quart to start. I actually bought my 4-quart many years ago (ok, like 4), and it’s by Mario Batali. All of the enamel cast iron pieces we received as wedding gifts are Le Creuset. Frankly, they’re all pretty equally effective.
- Cast iron skillet. Unless you are receiving a family hand-me-down, you will have to take the time to season it as you go. I’d recommend cooking a pound of bacon in it right away…
- Panini pan with press. At first I thought this was a silly, unnecessary purchase. Boy was I wrong. First, there’s the obvious use – making paninis. But for this use many people make the mistake of getting an electric panini press machine, which effectively has 1 use aside from taking up space in your cabinets. This pan on the other hand makes excellent paninis, but also doubles as a grill pan. Splendid!
- Roasting pan with rack. Speaks for itself. If you want to host Thanksgiving one day, you might as well pick one of these up now!
- Toaster oven. If you don’t have a double oven (oh kitchen of my dreams, how I lust after you), you will want one of these to get you through any dinner party. I promise it’s worth every inch of counter space, especially when you have a hankering for some naughty treat like Pizza Bites and don’t want to wait for the oven to pre-heat!
- Food processor. I don’t know how we lived without one before. We use it at least once a week now, for everything from shredding cheese, to chopping lettuce and cabbage, to mixing pizza dough and making copious amounts of pesto thanks to our never-ending basil plant this summer. We have the 7-cup Cuisinart and love love love it.
- Blender. Duh.
- Slow cooker. Also known as a Crock Pot, which happens to be a brand name, much like Kleenex. And coincidentally, in our storied history with slow cookers (storied, yes, interesting story, no, so I’ll spare you), we have determined that the Crock Pot brand is actually your best bang for the buck. We have a 6-quart version that has served us quite well.
- Rice cooker. You don’t know how much you need this till you have it. I have no idea what even possessed me to buy my first one years ago, but there was no turning back. Rice cookers produce perfect rice every time, have super simple clean up, and are 100% hands off. They even keep the rice warm if it finishes before the rest of your cooking does. We have a behemoth of a rice cooker these days, but I think the more standard ones of my past worked just fine too.
- Ice cream maker. Ok, truth is, you don’t need this. But if you’ve been reading the blog for a while now and fantasized at all about making some of our ice cream recipes, then, well, you do need this. Homemade ice cream is awesome, and you simply can’t make it without this clever device.
- Kitchen scale. I originally bought a food scale because I’m kind of into portion control and it’s the best way to know if you’re eating the intended serving size of something. But before long we were using it for virtually every recipe we made. Pasta, cheese, flour and meat are just a few of the ingredients that are usually listed in weights, and having a food scale is the easiest way to measure accurately. I honestly couldn’t live without one now that I have it.
Gadgets and Knick Knacks
- Cutting boards. Not plastic, they get weird. In fact, just splurge and get the ones we have. Ideally a little one and a big one. They’re good, I promise. And side note, if you want to stop them from slipping around when you’re chopping, cut off a piece of that rubbery stuff you put under rugs and place it under the cutting board. Works like a charm. You can thank my genius husband for that one.
- Carving board. This is just a cutting board with “moat-like” grooves around the edges to catch juices. We don’t use it a TON, but when we do it’s pretty irreplaceable.
- Rubber spatulas. Can’t beat these for scraping out every last bit of deliciousness from a pot or bowl
- Wooden spoons. You can’t exist with those rubber things only. Nothing beats a wooden spoon.
- Flat bottomed wooden spatula. You need one of these in order to scrape the bottom of pans while stirring. Absolute necessity for risotto, ice cream and deglazing pans.
- Pastry brush. I like this all rubber one. It’s easier to clean than the ones with hair-like bristles. BTW, it’s called a pastry brush, but we use it for brushing on BBQ sauce, butter, olive oil, you name it.
- Pepper grinder.
- Salt pig. I know, you don’t think you need this. But you do. Having salt on hand next to the stove top is SO AWESOME. A pinch here, a pinch there, suddenly you’ll know how restaurants make their food better than yours!
- Potato masher.
- Meat thermometer.
- Microplane. Also known as a zester. And yes, you need this. Don’t doubt us.
- Cheese grater.
- Mixing bowls. Highly recommend a few of the metal ones with rubberized bottoms and a few of the pyrex glass ones.
- Measuring cups.
- Measuring spoons.
- Pyrex liquid measuring cup. When you pour hot liquids into a plastic liquid measuring cup, bad things happen. Lesson learned. Get a pyrex glass one.
- Citrus juicer. To be honest, I could probably live without a citrus juicer, largely because it’s one extra thing to wash and I feel like a have a pretty firm squeeze on my own. But John accurately pointed out that they do extract far more juice than you can on your own, so I guess it’s not entirely pointless. Although I should point out that John rarely does the dishes…
- Potato peeler.
- Mandoline. You don’t need one. And they are very dangerous. But boy oh boy, the first time you cut up perfect chips or fries with it…euphoria.
- Rolling pin.
- Cooling racks. We have three that stack, which is nice if you have limited counter space.
- Ramekins. Yes, ramekins. Little pyrex bowls that are absolutely crucial when it comes to setting out pre-chopped or measured ingredients for smooth assembly. They can also go in the microwave and oven, in case you want to melt butter or bake an egg, etc. We have 8 and use all of them regularly.
- Pyrex. You definitely want the pyrex set. This stuff can’t be broken. Believe me, if it could, I’d have done it. Also, it’s perfect for casseroles since the dishes come with lids, plus Pyrex happens to be the only substance on earth that plastic wrap actually sticks to (other than itself) – leftovers made easy!
- Stoneware baking dishes. Nothing is prettier for serving baked dips or casseroles. I’d recommend getting a smaller one and a bigger one.
- Muffin pans. We have mini muffin ones, regular muffin ones and jumbo muffin ones. It’s not overkill. They all have their own uses and I couldn’t part with a single one!
- Baking sheets. AKA jellyroll pans. I love ours. They are pretty non-stick, so in the event that I don’t use foil or the foil fails me, they clean really easily. No baking sheet is a lifetime purchase, but I think these are a lot better than most. Get two.
- Cookie sheet. They are different than baking sheets. I don’t know how or why exactly, but cookies don’t burn on them. So you need them if you need cookies.
- Broiler pan. Broiler pans allow grease or liquids to drip through slats into a lower pan, which can reduce fat content and get food crispier.
- Loaf pan. Because you never know when a few rotten bananas on your counter are going to beg you to turn them into banana bread. Also, meatloaf. Enough said.
Of course, we own many many other little things, silly stuff like cherry pitters, a mini-torch, a popcorn maker and single serving baking dishes. But I tried to limit the list to stuff we think you need. Stuff that’s irreplaceable and that has made our lives that much easier (food processor, slow cooker), funner (mandoline), and tastier (Dutch oven, All-Clad pots) over the past year. So go on, grab your fiancée, get your butts to the local Bed, Bath and Beyond and start scanning to your heart’s content!