8 Tools You Should Have in Your Kitchen

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Ever rent a house instead of staying in a hotel? Have more control over your meals by having access to a kitchen at all hours of the day and night. Cook with local ingredients, spare yourself endless mediocre meals at tourist traps, and spend more time relaxing, knowing that you know what you’re eating!
Use these 8 kitchen essentials in your home & pack them in your travel kit!
1. Twelve-inch skillet: A good skillet is where most meals come to life and others go to burn. Good options are: sturdy, warp resistant, have heat distribution, and oven-safe handles so you can go directly from stovetop to oven. You can buy a French-style carbon steel skillet for about half the price of expensive models (around $60 for a 12 inch), and they’re every bit as reliable. Carbon steel skillets build a patina similar to cast iron skillets (another inexpensive option), so they become nonstick the more you use and season them. They also can be used on ceramic cooktops, whereas cast iron skillets cannot, as they scratch the surface and cause cracking. Carbon steel skillets are extremely durable.
2. Fish spatula:  A fish spatula features a stiff, slotted metal blade that flexes just enough to dislodge delicate fish fillets from the skillet or grill. The blade is long enough to support an average-size fish fillet and prevent it from breaking under its own weight when transferring it to a platter.In addition to flipping fish, this spatula is good for stirring sauces; acting as an impromptu strainer; removing food from the oil when frying; prying the errant, stuck cookie off a baking pan; or any number of soon-to-be-discovered tasks.
3. Heatproof rubber spatula: Rubber spatulas are great for everything from spreading frosting on a cake to scrambling eggs to getting that last bit of something out of a bowl. Over the last few years, the trend has been to make most rubber spatulas heatproof, which keeps them from melting at the bottom of the pot while stirring.
4. Tongs: A good pair of tongs should be sturdy enough to flip a heavyweight steak but precise enough to transfer cherry tomatoes without squashing them. You can use the same type of tongs for the stove and grill. One medium-size pair, about 14 inches long, with a solid spring, is appropriate for 98% of your tonging needs.
5. Wooden spoon: In an age of plastic, wooden spoons have become a rarity. They don’t scuff pan bottoms, are lightweight and, in addition to stirring sauces, they can be cross-utilized. Even the cheapest versions seem to last for years.
6. 8-inch chef’s knife: “A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.” A dull knife causes you to force your way through the food, increasing your chances of slipping and cutting yourself, whereas a sharp knife glides through the food with little effort. All you have to do, in theory, is put the knife in the right spot and let it do all the work. A sharp budget knife is more valuable than a dull high-priced knife, at least in the short term. A knife is only as good as you treat it. Sharpen it regularly, keep it clean, and don’t abuse it by hacking through bones!
7. Honing steel: This is the steel rod that chefs slide their knives against at an approximate 20-degree angle.  Honing steels reduce burs and inconsistencies on the knife blade that result from constant use. Diamond-coated and ceramic rods are more expensive but tend to be more effective. Regardless of the type, it’s safe to assume that behind every sharp knife is a blunt honing steel.
8. Whisk: You can make do with a fork when you’re in a bind, but whipping cream is nearly impossible. A whisk can blend ingredients thoroughly and quickly, incorporate air into egg whites, and form an emulsion between yolks and oil.
Image via Williams-Sonoma
Adapted from: The Essential Kitchen — Nine Items You Shouldn’t Cook Without, By Bryan Roof, RD, LDN, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 14 No. 10 P. 104

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Nicole earned her bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Simmons College while working as a Personal Trainer at Boston Sports Clubs and Gold's Gym. While at Simmons College, she competed in crew, ice hockey and cheerleading. She went on to earn her master's degree in Applied Nutrition with a concentration in Fitness from Northeastern University. Between undergraduate school and graduate school, Nicole completed one year of service under the auspices of AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as a Wellness Coordinator at a K-12 public charter school. Nicole completed her Dietetic Internship through Wellness Workdays to gain experience in Clinical Dietetics, Community Nutrition, Long Term Care Nutrition, Food Service Management, Corporate Wellness, Private Nutrition Counseling, and Sports Dietetics. Nicole worked as a Research Assistant at Tufts University for a Preliminary Investigation of Civic Engagement as a Novel Approach to Behavior Change and Body Weight Improvement in African American Females: The Change Club Study. Nicole recently launched the clinical and fitness nutrition programs for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital's Home Base Program. For the past few years, Nicole has increased wellness programs at the John Nagle Co. in Boston's Seaport District, bringing in fitness instructors, yoga instructors, the American Heart Association, healthy restaurant options, and health screenings to a diverse population of fisheries workers. More recently, Nicole worked on the Framingham State Food Study with Boston Children's Hospital and is currently working on the Breast Cancer Weight Loss Study with Dana Farber. Nicole continues to help deployed service members and their spouses and partners find and create new avenues for healthy lifestyles before, during, and after deployment. Nicole has experience counseling veterans, professional, adult and college athletes, and individuals and families looking to make changes in their routines to better their health. Nicole lives an active lifestyle and this year completed the Boston Marathon injury and cramp-free. Nicole enjoys educating individuals and groups. Some of the topics she teaches include: Choosing Foods to Improve Your Mood, Eating for Exercise, How to Navigate the Grocery Store, Eat This not That, Building a Balanced Meal, How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off, and Finding Health Sources You Can Trust.

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