After 13 years of marriage this week and 2 (mostly) fabulous kids, I was thinking about the things I had on my bridal registration list. What was worth it, and what was a waste of time.
And the unasked for presents that have become everyday gems in my life.
And after all this time, the importance of a well equipped, efficient kitchen is reinforced to me with each year my children grow.
The food we put in our body becomes the nutrients that define our health and quality of life. The food we eat affects our sleep, our intelligence and aptitude and how we socialise. When we crave food it may be because we are eating too much sugar or carbs, I have been in this world where you can’t stop obsessing and this ‘want’ defines your every hour.. feeding myself addictive substances rather than the nutrition it seeks. These days I no longer have cravings. Food affects us psychologically. And in many more ways than my example.
Food, or rather nourishment, is everything. It’s way up there on the scale of ‘what is important’.
Guys have tools in their sheds. Some tools can be cheap, like a hammer, but some things need to be good quality, like a saw, so they can be sharpened and used for years. Kitchen cookware is like that too.
And like tools, these things are not fashionable or hip, they are solid, enduring and something we use every day and every week.
Because, face it, Wedding Time is when you get the most money blown on your home, and on your future.
It’s a ‘once-er’. (Hopefully).
And sometimes it is hard to think past ‘what is gorgeous now’. Because you may only see what is stylish, what you saw in that magazine last month and what your friends have.
I like to think about this: the French term for food is ‘nourriture’ – nourishment. Whilst the English term is ‘fuel’.
Our daily can should be so much more than fuel. Food should be joy. And the better you cook, the more satisfied you are each time you sit down to a meal. So the better your day, your week your month and then each year, becomes.
Therefore, you enhance your life. You make it better. And you keep learning and experimenting, in good, delicious, nourishing ways.
But please consider some suggestions from an old lady.
My absolute top 10 kitchen things to put on a wedding registration list.
Practical things that will pay dividends to you when you have children, when winters are cold, when you have run out of cash, and when you get (even) better at cooking than you are now.
- Excellent knives and a commitment by one of you to sharpening the knives regularly. Knives need sharpening like toothbrushes need changing. And men are good at doing both…
- Cast Iron round casserole dish. A nice big one. Cooking big meals and freezing a bit each time makes the best and healthiest fast food in the world. Popular brands include Le Creuset.
- The best quality food processor you can afford. I didn’t used to use them much but once I started doing heavy family cooking and busted three stab mixers in a row from too much use, I became converted. So we had to invest later. And guys, a more expensive one usually has a better motor and won’t burn out. It’s a tool.
- The heaviest steel frypan you can get. Make it heavy because then your steak cooks better and you don’t burn things after 3 minutes. I really don’t trust non-stick surfaces and this is the safest long term cooking implement you can buy.
- Best quality hand mixer/blender. Look for one with steel bits inside rather than plastic bits that burn out after 2 ½ days. (Like the three I broke one year). All your leftovers become soup. And your kids eat spinach and parsley without realising. At first. It pays for itself very quickly.
- A big pot with a solid base. Copper bases are the best. And steel handles last the longest.
- A gorgeous stylish oilcloth tablecloth. These look great but can get wiped down when every day is messy.
- Glass storage ware. Buying in bulk saves money, particularly if you can buy organic drygoods. And glass lets off less stuff than plastic.
- Microplane fine zester. The best fried rice only has soy sauce on it and frozen ginger (I keep it in the freezer so it doesn’t go off) grated on your rice mix. Also the lemon zest from this stuff is so fine it makes everything gorgeous and zingy. Invented by a woman who kept stealing her husband’s woodworking rasp from the garage. I tell you, these things are tools.
- A great BBQ. However lots of people go for the flashest BBQ in the world but end up with a less outfitted kitchen. A cheaper BBQ works just as well and you don’t need a rotisserie and a wok fryer.
The some other suggestions:
- A fridge with a big freezer. The sooner you double the meals you cook and freeze a bit for busy nights the sooner you have money for fabulous holidays.
- A beautiful big salad bowl and salad servers
- A knife and fork set where there are no joins. Our knives have joins between the knife and the handle and are breaking already after only 13 years!
- Buying soup/dessert bowls: you want bowls that stack well in the dishwasher because bowls that don’t stack well are a pain in the derriere… for the rest of your life.
Something I stopped wanting: For years I wanted a gorgeous matching spice storage set. Not anymore. I cook with a lot of spices and I have come to love the different sized glass jars that hold different spices that I use in differing quantities. For example I use tonnes of oregano but not much nutmeg. And I like to collect interesting shapes so it makes my kitchen more interesting to me.
And something else for winter: Over the years you realise one of you sleeps hotter and one of you sleeps colder. The BEST answer for this is a mohair blanket. I realised this at dinner one time with three sets of aunts and uncles. They hadn’t realised but they all used mohair blankets because one of them slept hotter than the other. The pure magic of mohair blankets is that they don’t slide off. So have a single one in your favourite colour and you will love it till the ‘holes of love’ wear through.
(The mohair blanket and the le Creuset pot are the gems. Two of my most special possessions, gifts unlisted at the gift registry, items my kids will have to prise out of my cold, dead fingers).
I like to think about all these tools above, how important they have been and continue to be in everyday life. Because when we haven’t had the money to go out for a nice meal, I could always make a rich stew or a wicked pudding.
And sometimes a flash dinner set may not age fashionably (remember that daggy one of Aunt Ethel’s?). And it may hardly be used because it is ‘too good’.
What’s the point?
Everyday life is not about impressing people. A beautiful practical casserole pot in your kitchen may say a lot more about your priorities in this fast world of fast food than a decadent set of plates you can barely afford.
When you are tearing around with kids you need good tools in your kitchen.
Not some darn statement piece.
So, what do you want in life?