Tip of the Week: Tools of the Trade (Part One)

This week’s tip was inspired by a reader! I am always posting about my kitchen adventures on Instagram, so she messaged me suggesting I make a post about all of my kitchen gadgets and appliances. This week, I’m taking everyone into my kitchen and sharing my tools! For starters, there are so many different categories, that I am going to break it up into three posts. This week will be focused on small electric appliances, next week will be dedicated to hand tools, and the last part will be on cookware/bakeware.

The world of electric appliances was very scary for me when I started cooking. Everything seemed so expensive and scary. I was only 14 years old, and at that age, I didn’t really understand money, or necessity. I remember going to cookware stores and not knowing what I needed or wanted, so I did the only thing I knew how to do: research. I looked at a lot of different brands, not sure what the difference was. I looked at a lot of different finishes and materials and I wasn’t sure why it was necessary to have so many options. First of all, I have found that not all brands create all products equally. Second of all, I realized there are different levels of each small electric appliance within each brand. Lastly, I found out that if I really wanted to be able to open any cookbook and be able to cook every recipe it is quite necessary to have each item.

To begin, I think the top important items in a kitchen are a stand mixer, a blender (counter top and immersion), and a food processor. A stand mixer is essential, especially in a vegan kitchen. I prefer the Kitchen Aid brand. I have seen some people use the Cuisinart brand, but I was raised using a Kitchen Aid, and used them in school, so I am not overly familiar with anything else. I mostly use mine for making meringue from aquafaba, or whipped coconut cream. The coconut cream can be whipped by hand, but I am not even willing to try making aquafaba meringue with out my trusty Kitchen Aid. I also love that there are attachment options for the Kitchen Aid mixers. I haven’t used any of them because I prefer to have an each individual kitchen gadget, but it’s a great option for people trying to save space and money!

The next essential small appliance is a blender. I have both a countertop blender and an immersion blender. My countertop blender is a Vitamix. A Vitamix is a high speed blender that gets soups, sauces, and nut milks silky smooth. I don’t know how I would survive without mine! They are definitely a bit pricier than most blenders, but it is worth every penny. Throughout culinary school, we used Vitamix blenders. Following school, at my internship, Vitamix blenders were the only option. I became very familiar with them and realized that I could never settle with any other blender. I have heard that Blendtec is comparable, but I haven’t tried for myself. Not all blenders are created equal! I learned this when I my mom got a Kitchen Aid blender. It was alright if I didn’t mind grainy sauces, but I can’t bring myself to enjoy something that is slightly chunky or grainy when it’s supposed to be silky smooth. For me, a high speed blender with 10 speed options is essential. I use my Vitamix for nut butters, sauces, soups, smoothies, ice cream bases, cashew cheesecakes, the list is endless! As far as my immersion blender goes, I have an All Clad. That one didn’t have the greatest reviews, but I like that it is all stainless steel and the speed/power is very easy to adjust. I have also used some of the Cuisinart immersion blenders, and I like them. For years, I tried to resist buying one, but I did it out of desperation. I was trying to make an aquafaba mayo and it wasn’t working. I impulsively decided to buy the All Clad one and it worked wonders! It is perfect for emulsifying dressings to create creamy, dairy and egg free alternatives. Immersion blenders are great for hot soups, since putting boiling soup in a regular blender is dangerous.

The last essential small kitchen appliance is a food processor. My food processor probably gets just as much, if not more use than my Vitamix. I have had my food processor for almost 10 years, and it still works like new! I have a Cuisinart 11 cup processor. It’s definitely not big enough for what I need most of the time, but it works. They actually don’t make the exact food processor I have anymore. I have worked with other Cuisinart processors and they work very well too. I’ve never run into an issue in all of the years I have been using the brand. The only other brand I am familiar with is the commercial brand Robot Coupe. I use my food processor for just about anything. I typically use it for the crust of my cashew cheesecakes, spinach artichoke dip, bean dips, pesto, or to grate a large amount of vegetables if I need them for a dinner. A food processor is one of the most versatile small electric appliances out there. I haven’t lived a day of my vegan cooking career without one!

I realize that is a lot of information. I also realize that it is incredibly unrealistic for most people to go out and get all of these things today. This tip is intended to help anyone grow their kitchen gadget collection in a practical way. I’ve tried to focus on the essentials that I use on a regular basis, to help others make the decision when it comes to finding the right kitchen tools.

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