Simple Tools for Simple Food

Written by Julie Kelly

Oct. 27, 2014

I was asked recently about the types of kitchen tools I use. Pots, pans, electrics, the whole lot. At first, I blushed because I really don’t use anything fancy or exotic. Why would anyone want to do what I do? Then I realized, it’s probably really important to share what I do for EXACTLY that reason. I truly believe cooking should be something everyone learns how to do. It shouldn’t be elitist, daunting or intimidating. Accessibility is key. By giving you a peek into my real-life kitchen, you’ll see that it doesn’t have to be glamourous, new, expensive or staged, to get the job done.

I approach the kitchen as a ‘cook first, blogger second.’ I live my real life and try really hard to capture as much of it as possible to share with you as content. I love food photography, but more-so for the food and less for the photography. I don’t use props and rarely use filters, edits, or retakes on my photos (I’m sure you can tell!). It is a rare day when I can cook just for the blog and take pictures with something other than my phone. No time for fancy.

I generally feel the same way about kitchen gadgets. I used to think I needed the latest and greatest “thing” for each little task in the kitchen. I get the obsession, really I do! I have a similar affinity for office supplies. Someday I hope to have a chance to design my perfect kitchen with all the trappings. But the truth is, you can get away with doing almost everything in the kitchen with very few tools. This has become even more clear to me as we have traveled more and more in our little Eurovan. Efficiency is key.

So in an effort to pull back the curtain on what I do, here is a tour of my tiny kitchen. It’s not organized the way my former Type-A self would like it to be. Let’s face it, I have a toddler who likes to open cabinets, drawers, and anything that’s not bolted shut. Unlike our last house, this kitchen is also not super modern. I don’t have a gas stove. I don’t have granite or marble. Even though it’s a rented house, and maybe not my dream kitchen, I still manage to make nourishing, beautiful and delicious food here EVERYDAY. I hope this makes this whole thing of preparing real food more approachable and inspiring!


My Work Space: 1) Stuff I don't need that frequently plus some of the tools that aren't pictured here, but I wouldn't want to be without, including my FoodSaver and my Paderno Spiralizer2) Spices, salts and my stash of coconut milk3) Oils and vinegars, I love this one and this one4) Where I keep my glass bakeware and some extra serving pieces that don't get a ton of use. 5) My main work corner. I keep my cutting board out here all the time and I have a few things at the ready on the countertop all the time. Like butter, salt, pepper, olive oil, and my citrus press. 6) We don't use the bar for seating. It's my standing work station, where we keep our blood glucose monitor and ketonix for measuring ketones, and our day to day junk like keys and wallets, and overflow squash. 8) My main cupboard for dishware, mason jars, glasses, and serving pieces. 9) Non-breakables like pots and pans, sturdy glass storage containers, lids, kitchen gadgets. Things Ivy loves to reorganize while I cook. 10) The inside of #8. 11) My most favorite work bowls that I got from my mom and inherited from my Great-Grandmother. 

My Go-to Tools: 1) This is a new pan, but I have used primarily one main pan for all my cooking since I started living with my husband. His ruthless efficiency in the kitchen used to annoy me, but it's rubbed off on me in a lot of good ways. We like the ceramic non-stick, non-toxic variety of cookware. 2) Trusty fat separator that we use when we make bone broth. 3) My braiser or dutch oven. I love this thing and cannot wait until I can afford to buy a bigger one. This one is a generic brand from Costco that I got as a gift and it works great. I'm lusting after this one4) The other brand of cookware we have. I have the small, large, stock, and sauce pan. 5) Meat thermometer. An instant read electric one would be nice, but this one works well and was really cheap at the market. 6) My favorite monkey peeler! This was my husbands before we met, but I have grown to love it. 7) I've had this microplane since college and it's held up so well. I use it all the time to zest citrus, make fine chocolate shavings, and all sorts of other things. 8) I have several types of tongs in different shapes and sizes because I use them so much. 9) I hate this spatula but I keep using it because I have it and keep forgetting to get a more reasonably sized one. Another this my husband ordered on Amazon without considering the size. 10) This is actually a dough scraper for making bread. I however use it for scooping and chopping herbs, clening up my cutting board, and also cleaning up spills. I love this thing. 11) Kitchen shears are so necessary. Get two because one is always in the dishwasher.

Electrics: 1) Our newest gadget, the Blendtec Blender Can't say anything bad about it. Great addition. 2) Another great blender that I inherited from my mom when she got her Vitamix. Great for making Paleo mayo! 3) My all time favorite food processor It is well loved and used weekly. 4) One of my longest owned kitchen tools. My mini-food processor 5) My beloved pressure cooker. A gift from a dear friend. I'm considering purchasing another one to replace #6. 6) Slow cooker. I like this one, but I'm just not a huge slow cooker fan, especially now that I know the ways of the pressure cooker. 

Knives: 1&2) These knives are ridiculously wonderful. Hammer Stahl. I seriously have the best friends ever, what a great gift! I'm still getting used to how great they are, but I can quickly see that the little Santoku is going to be a favorite. You really have to develop a relationship with a knife over time. Get to know it's quirks and strengths. My husband is banned from using the large Chef's knife after his first attempt to use it resulted in five stitches. 3) This Wusthof is a great all purpose knife. I love the weight of it and the rounded end means less chance of serious injury. 

See anything that blew your mind? I didn't think so. Get creative with what you've got, get comfortable in your space, and get cooking! 

Join the discussion on the NBT forum when you support us on Patreon.

Register for instant access to your FREE 15-page book, What We Eat

© 2013-2020 nourishbalancethrive