What Fit in My Car: Kitchen Gear I Couldn't Live Without
Over the past seven years, I've gone from a 2+ acre, 2,400-square foot home in New Jersey to a 650-square foot apartment in central Oregon. Before moving to Oregon, I'd downsized to a 350-square foot, third floor walk-up, finally ridding myself of any true attachment to "stuff."
...Hang on. Is there wine in that box? WINE IS NOT "STUFF."
In fact, when I made the cross-country move in 2019, I brought only what would fit in my 4-door sedan.
You got lucky, Uncle Jesse. (Psst, he's famous now.)
It came as a huge to surprise to, well, no one, that pretty much the only stuff I brought was for Uncle Jesse and...MY KITCHEN. Some gals love shoes, some love make-up. Me? I write verses for my Vitamix.
Roses are red / violets are blue / You're my hero when you / puree my cashew.
It occurred to me recently that I was hoarding this information - the list of kitchen gadgets so magical I crammed them into my tiny trunk for 3,000 miles. And as previously mentioned, I do NOT like to hold onto things. And thus I give to you...
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I know, I know. They're EXPENSIVE, and we like to keep things affordable around these parts. This is an exception for both Robin and me. I will be BURIED WITH THIS BLENDER. The motor is powerful enough to send a rocket to the moon. Or, you know, turn nuts into the creamiest sauce you can imagine. If you're invested in plant-based cooking, there's no better place to put your money. And great news: you can buy certified reconditioned blenders directly from Vitamix.
CUISINART FOOD PROCESSOR (FULL SIZE AND MINI)
I might use my food processors even more than my Vitamix (shh, don't tell her). Pesto, pie crust, cashew cheez, muhammara, bean dip... I've had the regular size and mini forever and they show no signs of slowing down!
KEURIG COFFEE MAKER & REUSABLE KEURIG COFFEE CUPS (K-CUPS)
I absolutely love a single serve, waste-free coffee experience in my own home (compost the grinds after you brew!) - and I can use whatever coffee I want, meaning I can experiment with the smorgasbord of amazing local coffee blends here in Oregon. After using reusable K-Cups for a while, I had coffee from the typical plastic pods, and I could actually taste the plastic! No thank you!
SHARP KNIFE & LARGE CUTTING BOARD
If there was ever a photo that told you everything you need to know about me, this would be it.
I bring a sharp knife and cutting board on every (road) trip, and I've never once regretted it. ...Clearly. (Photo taken at the EconoLodge in Freeport, Maine.)
GOBS OF KITCHEN TOWELS & CLOTH NAPKINS
I haven't bought paper towels or napkins since 2016 and I'm telling you, it was the easiest change I've ever made - once I got over the arbitrary, "Wait! Don't Wipe Anything Messy with a Pretty Towel!" Syndrome. Now I can't stand using paper napkins to wipe my hands and face; they're so inefficient...and scratchy! Each week I toss them in the wash with my other sheets and towels - bam! Easy breezy!
INSTANT POT (INSTAPOT)
Rice, beans, one-pot dishes, steam, saute, slow cook... this thing does it all! (Bonus: I stored my socks in here during the cross-country road trip. True story.)
DURABLE RUBBER SINK STRAINER
I did not realize that central Oregon was The Land of the Garbage Disposal (I had never had one in New Jersey). Before my garbage disposal days, this little guy saved me from so many calls to the plumber. I treasure it so much that I seriously brought it across the country. I love that it's flexible so you can reverse its shape to empty it out; so much easier than the all-metal variety!
I used to have a beautiful, expensive, KitchenAid stand mixer, and... I never used it. Instead, my trusty little handheld mixer has gotten the job done for years. (For pie crusts, I use my food processor.)
NONSTICK, NON-TOXIC POTS AND PANS - WITH LIDS!
This is something I really didn't want to have to reinvest in once I landed in my new Pacific Northwest home. They were a bit cumbersome to fit in the trunk, but I had zero regrets when I was able to start cooking as soon as I got here! If you're in the market for new pots or pans, I highly recommend buying ones with lids. This really speeds up water boiling and vegetable cooking, and keeps your dishes warm when you get sidetracked Googling the age of every actor you just watched in the latest Netflix movie (...just me?).
I've had this forever and it's fantastic! I use the side to slice potatoes for my famous scalloped potatoes, the small grater side for citrus zest, and the larger side for all of the usual things (vegetables, vegan cheese, etc.). It's incredibly sturdy and as sharp as the day I first got it.
It's so tempting to buy the cheapest brands when you go shopping for new kitchen utensils - especially if you need to buy all of them at once. But this is definitely a category where you get what you pay for. Peelers that don't peel? Pizza cutters that just smoosh all of the toppings together? Whisks that rust or the handles snap off? Been there, done that. NEXT. Spring for at least the mid-range option and they'll last forever!
Time to fill up this drawer!
A few other key items that I purchased as soon as I landed in Oregon:
LIDDED GLASS DISHES AND BOWLS
I love these so much! They double as baking dishes AND storage.
The ones I had in NJ were on their last legs, but this is certainly a must-have! Confession: They are basically Nacho Vessels in my home.
Please note the efficiency of placing my condiments directly on the pan. (This was before I'd bought...)
SMALL WHITE DISHES
For your mise en place, dips, pretty food pics... these are inexpensive and beautiful and I use them CONSTANTLY. (Actually, the chalkboard ones [I got as a gift from Pier 1] DID make the cut to my trunk! Thanks, Karla!)
And there you have it - my kitchen must-haves! What did I miss? What are some of your favorites? Tag us on social media @plantbasedpoint and let us know!