I’ve been out of pocket for a while. We just relocated to Germany. Actually we’ve been here nearly 4 months (wow!) but I’m just now getting back into the swing of things.
Moving can be a bit of a hassle, and moving overseas even more so. Being without my “stuff” was frustrating, especially since I was trying to assure that we ate somewhat normally (eg not in restaurants and not just Kraft mac n cheese). Most of the time in transition we had a somewhat-equipped kitchen, either at “home” with the kitchen tools I kept behind or in temporary lodging.
All of this made me realize there are simply a few things I must have in the kitchen. (I was going to write “cannot live without” but that is a bit of hyperbole. I think you know what I mean.) I had the basics – dishes, glasses, pots and pans, measuring cups and spoons - but to my future self, this is what I need to have in my “unaccompanied baggage” when we head back to the States.
1) A 9×13 Pyrex. This is versatile – can be used for casseroles, lasagne, as a baking dish – but most importantly, BROWNIES. From-scratch brownies (I use the recipe on the back of the Baker’s unsweetened chocolate box) are a good friend when homesick, and they are easily made without a mixer. However, if you try to bake them in some other size dish, it is likely that the top will be burned and the middle will be gooey. (Thankfully the batter is still delish.)
2) A Rubber Spatula. More accurately, silicon, but I think you know what I’m talking about. Great for mixing, and even better for assuring that the last half-tablespoon of said brownie batter does not go to waste.
3) A Lemon Juicer. Have you ever tried to get lemon juice – more than just a spritz – out of a lemon without a juicer? Very inefficient. Plus if you do so please wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from stray drops.
4) A Paring Knife. One kitchen we were in had a great assortment of cutlery, but everything was at least 8 inches long. Not so handy for cutting up apples for a healthy snack.
5. A Metal Spatula. I made French Toast and flipped it with a wooden spoon but it wasn’t easy. Same with grilled cheese sandwiches.
And a note about the photo above: We were dying for some chicken fajitas, which in my world require flattening the chicken breasts. Of course I did not have my meat pounder thing or even a plastic bag, so I made do with a hatchet I found in the garage of our rental home and the interior bag from a box of cereal. It was a success: no fingers were lost in the process and that bag was far superior to a standard plastic bag. (I’d read the tip about using the cereal bag in Cooks’ Illustrated long ago.)