I think I have finally completed our gift registry for the wedding... (at bed bath and beyond, and crate and barrel).
I live in NYC, so I'll be living with small kitchens for at least the next few years. I'm also currently fairly well stocked, owning a coule of pieces of all clad, some viking knives, and lots of little gagets (like for that one time of year when I actually plan on pitting a couple of pounds of cherries...)
I still have time to add or remove things from the registry, so my questions are -
What are your essential kitchen items?
What can you never have enough of?
What has been sitting in your cabinets completely untouched for years?
If you could receive one item as a gift, cost no object, what would it be?
Basically, what should I definetely have on my list, and what should I think twice before bying?
This is the best kitchen gadget I've bought in the last two years.
Even in my tiny NYC kitchen with limited counter space, it's worth every inch it takes up. I use it every single day (can't say that about all the other things on my counter), saves a great deal of time, and allowed me to ditch the stovetop tea kettles that seemed to need replacing every other year or so.
Do you have a Screwpull wine opener? Everyone who uses mine runs right out and buys one. They work like a dream--even on very old corks.
Do you bake? Do you have silicone rolling pins? Don't know how I got along without mine for so long. What about a marble pastry board? Would you use it enough to be worth the storage space?
Do you have poultry shears? I never buy chicken parts; always cut up my own. It's so much cheaper, usually better quality chicken, and leaves me with parts for stock.
I can never have enough measuring spoons and cups or silicone spatualas. I especially love my tiny 2-ounce measuring cup. Bought it on a whim and am surprised at how often I reach for it.
You can never have enough kitchen towels. Really. Keep a stack on the counter. Use cut-up scrap rags for the really messy stuff. Cooking makes messes.
A good stock of wooden spoons is wonderful as well.
Both cheap wish-list items.
Oh! And a nice ladle that works in the kitchen as well as looking good on the table.
Never buy or ask for any "gadget" that will drive you crazy trying to store it between the once every five years you'll use it.
Use the registry for items that would feel indulgent to buy yourself but you know you'd use. Also think price points between $50 and $150.
I know ice cream maker is a sit-around-forever registry item for most newlyweds but I use mine almost weekly. Immersion blender, if you don't have one. Kitchen-Aid stand mixer.
I would ask for a kitchen herb garden: http://www.aerogrow.com (Seems weird but promising.) Though that might not be sold where you've registered.
Fun stuff we use a lot for company: Cloth cocktail napkins and little hors d'oeuvres size plates. Get a great tablecloth and cloth napkins. Don't forget a liner/pad for underneath.
Be careful: Martini glasses seem cool but they take up way too much space in the cabinet.
I am space-limited too so I like things to have multiple applications. And because I have two kitchens (my spouse works in another city) I've learned which things are essential enough to buy in duplicate or that I wish I could afford to duplicate!
Most-used kitchen electric - immersion blender. I keep it plugged in on top of the fridge with a long extension cord and use it almost daily.
A big saute pan and stock pot. Even if I'm just cooking for two, I like the extra room and the leftovers.
Good-quality toaster oven. For years I had this instead of a microwave. It's great for reheating items like pizza and is how I bake in the summer when it's too hot to turn on the oven. The removable racks have doubled as a roasting rack and cooling rack.
A powerful hand-held mixer.
Gadgets: zyliss can opener that removes the whole lid, zyliss garlic press, OXO peeler, silicone basting brush, locking tongs, pepper mill, flexible cutting boards or ones that can fit in the dishwasher, thin and flexible spatulas from OXO, silicone spatulas, kitchen timer, meat thermometer, oven thermometer, kitchen shears (cutting herbs, pizza, etc!)
Because I'm a baker - 2 half sheet pans, 2 pie plates, 2 loaf pans, one tube or bundt pan, 13x9 inch pan with cover (for cake/lasagna), muffin pan, silicone cookie-sheet liners (also use for rolling dough), rolling pin, large mixing bowl (also use for serving)
KitchenAid food processor, 11-cup size. If I had to choose between my stand mixer and this, I'd definitely take this.
Never have enough of:
Measuring cups and especially measuring spoons
Great, but not essential:
Ramekins - they double as prep bowls, a "salt pig", a butter dish, etc. etc.
Oxo salad spinner - doubles as a collander, mixing or salad serving bowl.
Hardly ever use:
Cookie press, bread maker, cheese knives, ice cream maker (but like having it in deep storage), potato ricer, table cloths (I still use my cloth napkins but these days I mostly set my table with placemats - and C&B and BBB have lots of great ones!).
Another thing to think about if you are requesting dishes or flatware: Unless it is a really classic pattern, get more place settings than you think you need in case the pattern is discontinued!
Congrats on your upcoming nuptials!
I forgot: digital kitchen scale and instant-read thermometer are very useful. Also steak knives. Set of nine or ten glass nesting bowls (Crate and Barrel has these). Gifts I never use: mortar and pestle, crockpot, electric can opener.
When I got married, I had a tiny apartment kitchen, and now that it's been 16 years, I'm in my own house but evidently brought the tiny (horrible) apartment kitchen with me. So space is at a premium for me. Must have:
8 inch 10 inch and 12 inch skillets
2 small saucepans - 1/2 qt.
2 larger saucepans - 3/4 qt.
One large and one small baking sheet with sides
2 9" cake pans
Good knives - minimum of 1 8 inch chef, 1 10 inch chef and a good serrated knife
Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (worth the counter space)
Food processor (mine is a Cuisinart, but there are other good ones)
Set of good mixing bowls (my favorites are red plastic with rubber bottoms that have handles and pour spouts.)
Ditto the little stuff mentioned above: Good LONG HANDLED wooden spoons, lots of hot pads and oven mitts, dish towels, dish towels, dish towels (you can never have enough), a good vegetable peeler, a good can opener (I hate electric ones - gave mine away), a microplane.
Electric juicer (a lemon reamer and a strainer work just fine)
Bread Machine (another thing I gave away)
Aprons (I have dozens - I SHOULD use them, because I spill stuff on myself all the time, but I never do.)
We went way overboard when we registered and ended up with too many things we barely used: fajita maker, different kinds of drinking glasses (lager, irish whiskey, margarita, etc.--very space consuming), espresso maker, pasta maker... Think about what you make often and stick to that. I bake a lot and use my stainless steel cookie sheets, measuring cups, etc. all the time but if you don't bake, they'd be a waste for you. Similarly, my husband loves the Poldar remote meat thermometer but I'd have no use for it if not for him. I would have invested in every day dishes/utensils/serving plates that I LOVED. Check out this thread for things to avoid:
And, useful gadgets:
By the way, congratulations, and good luck with the registry. I remember that we registered and people went and had our list printed out, then apparently said, "Oh, they don't want THAAAAT." and proceeded to buy us things from the places we registered that we didn't want or need. We took back about four silver-plated pasta servers.
I don't use...
a salad spinner - I just use a clean tea towel
a garlic press - I use my chefs knife
fondue pot - I took it from my parents but have yet to use it in 3 years
the butter keeper - you put it upside down into water so you have soft butter
spring loaded tongs
silicone spatulas - small and large
my santoko knife
a bamboo cutting board that has a rim around the edge, it doubles as a serving tray
I would put serving pieces (platters, bowls, sauceboats, etc.) and bakeware (casseroles, ramekins, souflées, etc.) from Pilluvuyt or Apilco on the list. Both are French makers of fine porcelain tableware that have been in business since the early 1800s and are the gold standard for beautiful kitchenware. They also make the perfectly beautiful plain place settings used by many fine restaurants. Totally classically elegant.
I got many pieces when I got married more than 35 years ago and have added more and more as the years have gone by.
They are expensive but good for a lifetime. If you have limited storage, they are a good value as they can be used everyday or on a formal table. Oven, dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe.
Unless you are really into fine wines, get a good crystal wine glass in a shape you can use for a variety of wines. You may not need three different red wine shapes. Lenox has an excellent affordable line with a replacement offer for breakage. The White House uses Lenox. It was chosen by Jackie Kennedy. Get a lot of them so you can use them for parties. Keep the boxes to store the extras in a closet when you're not using them.
Get the champagne flutes while you're at it. And enough good water glasses that match to set a nice table.
Some beautiful white linen damask napkins. Big ones. Even if you have to iron them.
You will buy the things for your kitchen that you really need and want. Put the luxuries on your wedding list. The things that newly married people on a tight budget just won't be able to justify spending money for. The beautiful things that you'll have for a lifetime.
Mixing bowls, gadgets, appliances and margarita glasses will find their way to thrift shops. You'll move the truly lovely things with you from home to home for the rest of your life and hand them down to your children.