After ten years of marriage and a steadily improving cooking repertoire, I know a little something more than I knew 11 years back.
1. Le Creuset Dutch Oven – worth the money! This is a heavy, no-nonsense piece of cooking equipment that will prove indispensable when preparing stews, chili, roasted chicken, you name it! I got mine at an outlet, but even if you have to pay retail, it’s an investment that will pay dividends.
2. White everyday dishes. Most of my registry items no longer appeal to me (I’m on my 2nd kitchen and 4th kitchen color scheme), but my Crate & Barrel white everyday dinnerware was one choice I don’t regret.
3. Stick blender with bowl for small food processing jobs. Not only do I use the mini-processor a ton, but the immersion blender has been a great tool for pureeing the bean and pea soups I love so much. My creepy step-grandma gave me this item (which was not on my registry) for a shower, and as much as I didn’t like her, she had great taste in gifts!
4. Microplane grater – cheap enough that shower guests will appreciate the price point, but don’t let the low price dissuade you from putting it on the registry. This is a workhorse in the kitchen. It’s gotten me through meal after meal with its unbeatable ability to zest citrus fruits and shave parmesan cheese.
5. All-Clad Stainless Pots & Pans. The favorites of upscale brides for years, these American-made beauties are not only good looking, but they are the best in the business for home cooks. They are worth the investment in whatever capacity your wedding guests can spring for them. I knew nobody was going to buy me an entire set of All-Clad, so I registered for a lesser quality “deluxe set” of pots & pans, thinking that I’d sacrifice quality for quantity, but ten years later, I am an All-Clad fan and my old pans didn’t make the cut. If you (and your guests) can’t afford a set, start with registering a la carte for the most critical pieces: a 10-inch nonstick skillet (for eggs), a 12-inch stainless skillet (for everything else), and a good-size saucepan. Register for a non-All-Clad stockpot (mine’s from IKEA), because you don’t need to spring for All-Clad just to boil water. Bottom line: it’s worth it to invest in a few basic All-Clad pieces that you will own forever.
6. 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet. I have a Le Creuset coated version, which is a terrific pan. It’s not considered a non-stick pan, so it doesn’t have the yucky teflon coating. It cooks evenly, browns perfectly, and cleans up like a dream. This is ideal for searing steaks on the stovetop and popping them in the oven. If you choose this and the dutch oven, try to get one that can use the same size lid as comes with the dutch oven…a rare twofer. It’s heavy and formidable, and can double as a weapon!
7. Vacu-Vin Wine Saver Pump & Stopper – if you drink wine, and ESPECIALLY if you are only an occasional wine drinker, this is a must-have. It greatly extends the life of a half-empty bottle, so it doesn’t all go to waste. This gadget works by sucking all of the extra air out of the neck of the bottle, so that the wine stays fresher. While you’re at it, throw on a pack of extra stoppers…you’ll need them eventually.
8. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls – Sure, the 10-piece glass bowl set sounds super cool, but these are so much more lightweight and practical. Plus, you buy only the sizes you need and multiples of popular sizes that you love. Take it from someone who registered for the glass set initially…these stainless bowls are WAY cooler.
9. Victorinox Chef’s Knife. Seriously, the only knife you’ll need. Top recommendation from Cook’s Illustrated, a cooking publication that spends an inordinate amount of time testing kitchen gadgets so we don’t have to. Don’t spend a ton of money on a set of knives until you know what you like to use. If you’re like me, you will use the heck out of this one, and own a bread knife and a paring knife for occasional purposes. That’s it, people. It’s the best knife I’ve ever owned.
10. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer – The tried and true. Probably already on your registry. Don’t doubt your decision to add this just because it’s costly. It’s a heck of a lot better to have a couple people go in to buy you this than to register for a cheaper one that will break by your third anniversary.