All that you can’t leave behind

I’d like to introduce you to the gang of five.

I’ve been packing. It’s for a month on the road- first to South Africa, then home to Sydney for some celebrations, then hopefully to my favourite place in the world for a few days.

A perfect time away includes great people, great music and food. I’m never happier than if my hair is sodden from a swim and I’m barefoot in a kitchen, pulling together food for people who make me laugh.

There are things that can make that time better. And that’s where the gang of five comes in.

Making slaws with blunt knives, zesting using a left handed peeler and trying to get batters out from the lip of a bowl with a rigid wooden spoon- these all grate on me to varying degrees.

So while I’d love nothing else to be able to cram a dishwasher, The Hungry One’s beloved ECM Giotto espresso machine, my deep blue Le Creuset dutch oven and four ramekins into our suitcase, I’m not a complete ninny.

But I  know if I’ve got these five things with me, good food and great times are never far away.

So these are the five kitchen tools that I just won’t go without. 

1. My knife

My knife isn’t a fancy brand name, nor is it made by descendants of samurais. It’s just a big knife that balances well in my hand that I’ve grown quite fond of. The Hungry One also likes it because unlike the Global knives, it doesn’t have a deckled handle (less spots for prep-grime to get encrusted). What can I say? The man has high hygiene standards. It’s one of the reasons I love him.

Having a decent knife with you means I’m  less likely to cut yourself chopping tomatoes for a caprese salad. This summer I’ll probably be using mine to make some versions of Waldorf salad- much like this.

2. A knife sharpener

I love the way this  Minosharp Universal glosses up a knife to a safe sharp point from. It’s two wet stones, going to work in a cage of their own. It’s small, tucks away easily and doesn’t require you to brandish sharp things through the air (which is a good thing for anyone that’s ever seen me trying to hit a golf ball or play tennis). It works beautifully not just on my big knife, but on most blunt knives that cross my path (I’m deadly serious- has anyone ever been to a holiday house where the knives are sharp?)

3. A speed peeler

This is a little gadget that I make work hard for the money. Making ribbons out of zucchini and fennel are the main things I make it do. But there’s every chance I’ll be putting it to use making mock carrot noodles to have with morrocan mince, like this.

If you’re after a stocking stuffer for someone who spends time in a kitchen, the Jamie Oliver one is pretty nifty.

4. A spatula

This red spatula of mine was the first thing I bought for my ‘glory box’ when we moved in together. The colour seemed so cheerful. And I loved the way the tip pivoted back and forth. It made me feel frugal and generous, all at the same time. These days I use it for everything; not just cakes and scrambled eggs, it’s also my favourite thing to stir risottos, like this one with as well. 

5. A microplane

This is a relatively recent addition and I have no idea how I ever lived without it. It’s magical for zesting  lemon and lime- but also does wonders for spices like nutmeg- and chocolate. This summer if the nights turn a little nippy I’ll probably be using mine to bust out roast beetroot with dark chocolate- like this. 

What are the kitchen gadgets you can’t live without?

(As in, what should I be asking Santa, or whoever pulled me in the family Kris Kringle- to bring me?)

  1. That's a really good holiday house tool kit! I have a microplane on my Christmas list, at the moment I have an ever-duller box grater.

  2. It's a great list, hard to argue with simplicity. The only other thing I can't leave behind is a pair of tongs.

  3. Hi Tori, I have an entire page devoted to things I can't live without in my kitchen. One of my fav's and probably used at least 5 times a week is my Cuisinart Immersion blender; and as you, I love my micro-planer (great for garlic) and I also love my kitchenaid stand mixer and I could go on forever…

  4. I was actually considering taking my yogurt maker with me to my parents' house over the holiday. I think I've decided that I can exist on yogurt from Whole Foods for a few days!

    I love knives that are all one piece–definitely the best at repelling gunk.

  5. I am impressed! That is what I call organized.
    I have never even thought of bringing any of those things with me on vacation but you just gave me the brilliant idea of packing my knife sharpener to take to the mountains. The knives will definitely NOT be sharp there. It sounds like you are off to an amazing vacation.

  6. Great list – I am tempted by the knife sharpener – I just have a sharpening steel.

  7. I actually just wrote a post about this very thing, linked below. I also can't live without a good knife and a microplane zester. My other must have is a Silpat baking mat. I don't know how I survived before I had one!

  8. Brilliant post! I am on holiday in Brazil. I brought glass ramekins and baking paper with me… Yes I have used them…

  9. I agree, knife is the most important kitchen tool!

  10. I wouldn't leave out a good utility knife for my essentials. You never know when you'll need one!

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