As you can see from the title of this post, I do not have a recipe for you this week. I did quite a bit of experimenting and testing (some very exciting things coming your way soon!), but an unexpected crises kept me from being able to finalize as I normally would. Ah, life happens. Emergencies happen and I am human. I stepped away from my kitchen and camera to help some dear friends look for a very sweet, but very traumatized dog that bolted from them due to a scare. As a friend, and as a vegan for the animals, that needed to come first.
(Unfortunately, he still has not been found, but I have very high hopes for their boy’s safe and swift return!)
Recipes shall resume next week on their regular schedule. For now, I will bring you my top 5 must have cooking tools for my tiny kitchen! Some people have kitchens that are the square footage of my entire home. Visualize that for a moment: how on earth can I cook with such limited storage space? Well, I have few tools, but the ones that I do grant valuable counter and cabinet space really pack a punch in terms of value and usability.
Note: None of the links in this post are affiliate links, nor is this post sponsored in any way. I just wanted to make it easier to share the things I love using with all of you!
My Top 5 Tiny Kitchen Must Haves!
5) Instant Pot
When I first mentioned to my mother that I wanted a pressure cooker, she was convinced that it would explode and I would die. My father warned me about all of the potential lawsuits, as is his tendency. Love them both to death, but I promise that pressure cookers have come a long way since the 1970s. This was a bridal shower gift. It was the first one to arrive at my house and the one that I use the most often. Admittedly, I registered for it before I actually had a full idea of what the Instant Pot did or what it was fully capable of. Now that I have it, it gets used fairly often! Sometimes it’s for a soup or a chili and sometimes it’s just for cooking rice. I also use it to steam veggies and will one day use it to successfully make vegan yogurt.
I will say that I do go through phases where sometimes I will use my Instant Pot every night for a week, but then go several weeks without touching it. That is why it number five on my list. More consistent use would definitely propel this further up the ranks.
4) Rubber Cutting Board
This is a tip I picked up in a knife skills class at a local community center. Instead of traditional wooden cutting boards, the instructor had one of these set out each work station. Intrigued, I asked the chef to explain more about them. They are more hygienic than plastic, and cushion your knives in a manner similar to wood so your blade does not dull as fast as it would were you working on plastic. But the material makes these cutting boards much, much lower maintenance than butcher block. Rubber does not need to be oiled and you can put the whole board in the dishwasher (my husband’s favorite part). My favorite part? If the board is really starting to show signs of wear or the surface has become too rough, grab a piece of sandpaper and gently buff away any marks. In two minutes, you have a smooth surface again!
This is not something I have seen outside of a restaurant supply store, but I have found ones similar to mine online here.
One potential downside to a rubber cutting board like this is that they are heavy! Mine is 1 inch thick and it’s a small chore lifting it from the cupboard up to the countertop. In my opinion, this is a small price to pay. If weight is an issue for you, the website above also sells rubber boards that are only half an inch thick, which could cut down on the weight significantly.
3) Ninja Blender
It is not safe for me to go into the blender section of any store, high end or lower end. My gaze when longingly stroking the Vitamix and Blendtec blenders is not appropriate for small children (nobody should let me out in public). I have never even used one, but I have seen enough YouTube videos to appreciate their immense power. The internet tells me that I can blend an iPhone! I mean, I don’t want to, but I love the idea of knowing that I could.
But seeing as how 500 dollars is not exactly something I am prepared to spend right now, I purchased a Ninja blender to substitute. And substitute it does! I make cashew creams and nut based sauces regularly, and the Ninja blender does a fine job of turning these nuts into purees. Granted, I do have to soak them for awhile first (I’ve heard that you can put them in dry with a Vitamix and still get a smooth puree), and the blending takes longer than I am sure it would in a higher powered appliance, but the Ninja gets the job done nicely.
2) Tofu Press
In my opinion, tofu just does not cook up properly unless as much liquid as possible has been thoroughly pressed from it. Many bloggers and chefs recommend wrapping the tofu in a towel and placing canned goods and heavy books on top of it, but I have always found this technique lacking. The tofu is not under enough pressure this way to drain enough! Though at first concerned it would be a weird novelty item, I went ahead and purchased this tofu press. After one use I knew that it was gong to get a lot of love in my kitchen!
It’s vice-like construction allows me to slowly increase the pressure on the tofu, allowing for maximum liquid runoff. After about half an hour of pressing, the tofu is ready to bake (my preferred cooking method for tofu). Without fail, my tofu comes out with a much crispier exterior than it would if I had pressed tofu in the traditional way. If you make a lot of tofu, I cannot recommend this enough!
1) 8-Inch Santoku Knife
Purchasing a knife is the most personal thing you can do for your kitchen. I would never recommend buying a knife that you have not tested. You need to feel the weight of the knife in your hands, get a sense of how balanced it is while you work. I imagine that the knife shopping process is the chef equivalent of going to Ollivander’s and buying a magic wand.
Countless times I have gone into Crate and Barrel and Williams-Sonoma simply to test out knives (any reputable knife seller will let you hold and test knives in the store before purchasing) and find my Holy Grail kitchen tool. Unfortunately, most chef’s knives felt unwieldy in my small hands. They were always either too clunky or too heavy, which kept me from getting a good rolling motion going when chopping.
I first used this knife at my mother-in-law’s house. I loved how balanced the blade felt in my hand, and I was really surprised to find out that it was from Ikea!
I’ve had this knife for nearly two years and I still love it. For ten dollars, the price could not be beat. I think the shape of a santoku knife is a better fit for my hands in general, so I will eventually do some research and testing to upgrade. But for now, this is a fantastic knife for me, and the only blade I use aside from my paring knife and serrated bread knife.I keep it in tip top form by running the blade over a honing steel every time do my cooking prep. I regularly sharpen it with a stone sharpener once every other month or so.
Is your knife sharp enough? My favorite way to tell is the paper test. Hold up a piece of paper and try to bring your knife straight down through the air to cut the paper. Does it slice the paper effortlessly? You’re good to go! If not, it is time to get your knife sharpened.
There you have it! My current top 5 must-have kitchen tools. While two of them are appliances, I try to keep my tools on the minimalistic side, with the top three being easy, simple to use tools that do not require plugs or batteries.
I know my post this week was on the shorter side, and different from my normal recipes, but like I said: life happens sometimes. Thank you all so much for your patience and understanding! I can’t wait to get back to sharing my favorite recipes with you.
I would like to make your TVP burgers but you don’t specify how many burgers the recipe makes. We are only two, so if it makes way more, can they be frozen?
This recipe makes approximately four burgers. They actually freeze really well! Freeze the uncooked patties on a baking sheet, then place in a zip-top bag with parchment paper between the patties. They should last in the fridge for up to two months. Enjoy!