Monday, April 4, 2011

A few of my favorite things...

The other day I was thinking about all the things in my kitchen (gadgets, products, etc.) that I really love. We're all friends here, right? and I thought, hey, maybe y'all would like to know about some of this stuff too. Cause that's what friends do, they share the good stuff. So that's what I'm gonna do.

I guess I should also point out that none of the following companies have compensated me in any way. These companies do not know of me or of The Country Cook. These are just my opinions of products I use and enjoy. 
I'm just a little fish in a big ole pond y'all.

My Lodge Cast Iron 15" Skillet. This is my kitchen workhorse. It handles
 so much of my cooking and it cooks so evenly. Great investment.


I use Red Pack crushed tomatoes for lots of meals. This one with Basil, Garlic & Oregano is great as a pizza sauce or dipping sauce for cheese sticks or in lasagna or on spaghetti. If you like your pizza sauce a bit thicker, just put this in a sauce pan on the stove on medium heat for about an a hour or so to let it reduce and thicken. Seriously good.

I may be just a bit addicted to these Nature Valley Bars right now. I keep one in my purse all the time.

 Luzianne makes a great pitcher of sweet tea.  Nuff said.

From scratch is almost always best when it comes to pancakes and waffles. But, when you're in a pinch or you have run out of eggs, use this Hungry Jack mix.  
This is a great tasting pancake mix and they turn out perfect every time and you only need water.  
I even use it to make Coffee Cake!

I almost never have buttermilk in my fridge when I need it. You can make buttermilk by adding lemon or vinegar to regular milk but I just don't think the consistency is the same. I always have this Saco cultured buttermilk in the fridge and it is the best buttermilk substitute I have found. Foods turn out perfect as if I had used actual buttermilk. You can usually find it near the dry milk products in the baking aisle.

I use this Lawry's lemon pepper seasoning all the time. It just adds a great accent flavor to so much; from Chicken Philly Sandwiches or Pan Fried Pork Chops. It's not as lemony as you might think.
Best $5 I ever spent. This spring-release cookie scoop makes baking so much easier, whether I'm making Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cake Balls or Oreo Cookie Balls. It just makes the process so much faster. Love it.


Y'all, I just cannot say enough good stuff about this Vietnamese Cinnamon. It is so different from your everyday Cinnamon. Now, I am most definitely not an ingredient snob. I usually buy generic or store brand for nearly everything. But this stuff, it is heaven. Once you open it, you smell the difference. It smells amazing and it takes all of my baked goods to a whole 'nother level. 
Also, McCormick now makes a cinnamon called Saigon Cinnamon. I've tried it and it is comparable to the King Arthur brand - very nice!

These Santitas tortilla chips are probably the best tasting store brand chips I have found and they are cheap (which I like even better). I warm them up for a few seconds in the microwave - yum!

For the gravy-impaired cook. No more lumps in your gravy with this stuff. Also, add this Wondra flour into soups and stews anytime during the cooking process (just bring it up to a boil after adding) and it thickens easily and without flour lumps.  And, if you're making pancakes from scratch, use this flour instead. It makes for a very soft pancake. You can usually find this in the baking aisle near the regular flour.

This is hard to see but it is my little OXO measuring cup. I can measure up to 4 tablespoons in it or up to 1/4 cup. It's great and I have less chance of spilling stuff like I sometimes do with my measuring spoons. Handy little thing.

 The instructions recommend using it on steak (which is very tasty) but this stuff is amazing with chicken  - I mean amazing.  We are hooked.
Isn't this Baker's Joy spray one of the best inventions for bakers?
No more greasing and flouring a pan (unless you really want to).
Just spray this stuff on there. I love it and use it a lot.

You can get steamed and delicious veggies in about 5 minutes with these Ziploc Zip 'n Steam bags.  
I got these for about 2 bucks at Big Lots.
 Less dishes and less mess = WINNING! Whoever invented these is a genius.



What are some of your favorite products? I'd love to know!


34 comments:

MrsJenB said...

Oooh I love Baker's Joy! Such a time saver!

I'm pretty much in love with my potato ricer - it makes un-lumpy mashed potatoes soooo much easier! It seems like no matter how hard I try otherwise I always end up with huge lumps which were hiding in the bottom of the pan.

I also love my little sieve which I use not only to strain gravy but also to sift flour - gotta love a tool which does double duty! ;)

Candace said...

You are awesome! I've taken some notes here. I think that cast iron skillet is awesome with that second handle on it. I have a hand me down one that I loved until I saw yours. How I wish I had that when I'm making my chicken in the oven...how I wish I had a real oven now that I see this post and remember my chicken. ~sigh~

Question...is that buttermilk the same thing as "buttermilk powder" that I see listed in recipes? I don't think I've ever seen that before.

The Country Cook said...

Jen - I'd like to get a potato ricer. I think I could put that to good use.
Candace - this buttermilk powder may be the one you see in some recipes. Basically you add the powder in with the dry ingredients and then you add the recommended amount of water (listed on the back of the package) to the wet ingredients. So if you see that a recipe calls for 4 tbsp. of buttermilk powder then you should also see that it calls for 1 cup of water too. You do have to refrigerate it after opening too :)

The Country Cook said...

Oh and your hand me down cast iron skillet is always best. Think of the many meals it has made and I bet it has great seasoning on it too!!

From the Kitchen said...

I have a ten inch, 70+ year old cast iron skillet that would be the first pot I'd save if called upon to do so. I do love my All-Clad pots but that skillet is a workhorse.
I recently picked up the buttermilk powder but have yet to use it. Thanks for the heads up on that. My mother made the best sweet tea ever and she only used Luzianne!

Best,
Bonnie

Wanna Be A Country Cleaver said...

Oh how do I love my Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, too! My life would not be complete without a little cast iron in it :)

cindy said...

Love Santitas--they are the best. I don't think I've seen the Red Pack tomatoes in Utah, but they look yummy. I've ordered many things from KAF, love their Burgandy Chocolate Chunks. But looks like I need to order some cinnamon. Great post. I love to take a peek in other kitchens! Have a great day, snow in Utah this week.

Siggy Spice said...

What a cool post Brandie! Dang, I need a cast iron skillet!!!
I also love the steam bags, Baker's Joy, and Lemon Pepper...mmmmm.
A random smattering of my favorites are my crockpot, rice cooker, pressure cooker, french press, garlic salt, frozen garlic cubes from Trader joes, Z bars (they are for kids but I LOVE them), Sun Crystals, Italian Sweet Cream Creamer, and coconut oil.

Holly said...

I want a cast-iron skillet SOOO bad!!!! : ( I knew we were so similar.. I use alot of these same products!! Except for the Hungry Jack pancake/waffle mix. I have always used Bisquick. And just this last Saturday I was out of eggs so I couldnt make waffles and boy were my kiddos and hubby sad! lol! I will have to try it! : )

Mama J said...

Love my cast iron! :)
I'm a generic girl too, but I think I need to go out and find that cinnamon.

Lorra said...

For a moment I was wondering if you had snuck into my kitchen for this blog, so many of the same things! My all time favorite are my cast iron skillets (I'm the 3rd generation to have this set). As a working mom my second favorite kitchen staple would have to be my 6 qt oval Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, it's a life saver on busy days. Thanks so much for this post, now the measuring cup is on the top of my list for my next "got to have" kitchen staple.

Kimberly said...

I want a cast iron skillet SO bad.... I've been asking for one for years, and no one finds it a necessary product in my family. Maybe I'll just buy it for myself! I have never ever seen or heard of the buttermilk stuff, but what an ingenious product! I will have to keep an eye out for that!

Kathie Bryant said...

I can believe we have so many of the same "neat" items in our pantry. Good cooks think alike!I haven't tried the cinnamon, but I will take your word for it and try to get some. Have a great day!!

Sandra said...

Wonderful post..I love all your favorites!

Becky said...

Great Post! Ditto, on the Vietnamese cinnamon, and cookie scooper. I couldn't live without my microplane zester or stick blender!

Hildy said...

Check out the 6 1/2 qt. enameled cast iron dutch oven at Sam's Club. It's under $40. I use it for anything & everything. It is the most used cooking utensil in my house.

Jennifer said...

I always have a box of that Hungry Jack pancake mix in my pantry and always have at least one bag of those Santitas Chips in there too! And you will find STACKS of those McCormick Grill Mates seasoning packets in my pantry at all times! These are so good...our favorites! The only one I haven't tried so far is the Carolina Country one and it is on the menu for tonight :)
This was a fun post. Thnaks for sharing your favorites with us.
Jennifer

janiemarie said...

We have the same cast iron skillet with the extra handle-it's so much easier to lift with that extra handle. My favorite kitchen gadgets are my microplane grater and zesters(I have 2 different sizes) I use them all the time. I'm going to have to go to King Arthur and get some of that cinnamon.

Patti said...

Can't live without my cast iron either! We are also addicted to McCormick's Grill Mates - Mojito Lime - it's the best for chicken!

Just for Cooking said...

I love Montreal Steak Seasoning. Grill Mates rock! ;.)

southernlady64 said...

I enjoyed checking out your favorite things. I love those chips and they are about the only ones I ever buy anymore. Use the tea and the buttermilk, too. Will have to check out the cookie scoop. Thanks for coming by my place.

scratch-made wife said...

I share your love for kitchen gadgets. The cast-iron skillet especially hits home for me. My stepdaddy took me out to the barn two Christmases ago and let me pick out my own skillet. Score! It's amazing.

As for things not on your list, the husband and I probably couldn't function without Jane's Mixed-Up Salt and now Jane's Mixed-Up Pepper. We put them on everything!

The Country Cook said...

Y'all have given me some great things to try. I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments. You guys really are the best!!

Bo said...

A cast iron skillet is the best and most affordable cookware someone can invest in.

sliceofsouthern said...

Great post Brandie! I use just about everything on the...but now, I'm gonna have to try the cinnamon from King Arthur's flour! Thanks for sharing, it's interesting to find new great items!

Kim - Liv Life said...

Don't you just love those OXO measuring cups??? I have them in 1/4, 1 and 2 cup sizes and use them all the time!!
So glad you liked the Grill Mates! We use them frequently (shhhh!), and I appreciate the shout out!!

Bill & Harriett said...

I love my old cast iron skillets plus my muffin and corn stick pans, don't get to use the skillets much since we purchased a glass top stove, still use them in the oven though. I agree with you on the cinnamon I ordered mine from King Arthur also plus my buttermilk powder.

Aimee said...

The buttermilk substitute...how long is the shelf life on that? What a great idea!

cheartstrings said...

Thanks for sharing. Your generosity in spreading the good ideas reminds me of a NOT-so-nice lady who intentionally left out an ingredient in a recipe she gave my friend so that it would fail. I swear, just say no if it's that big a deal!

Cheryl and adam @pictureperfectmeals.com said...

It's funny how attached we become to these inanimate object! I have a cast iron skillet handed down to my momma from my grandmother and it brings back so many wonderful memories whenever I use it. Other favorites are less emotional and more modern - I don't know what I'd do without my slow-cooker or my Kitchen-Aid mixer - and probably my favorite tings are my wooden spoons, just love how they feel in my hands.

Lizzy said...

What a fun post, Brandie!

I adore Wondra flour...and am coveting your Lodge fry pan :)

Maureen said...

Wow, looking at all those things only folks in the states can buy. As an American living down under I'm really envious about what's available in your grocery stores. Most everything here is fresh fruit and veg which is great but every once in a while the American in me wants something from "home".

The Mom Chef said...

What a fun post. I have a few things like that that I couldn't do without for sure. The one that comes to mind first though is the big cutting board at the end of the counter. I love that thing.

Anonymous said...

Great list - I am in Canada - when I'm visiting I can be seen prowling in grocery stores - which stores do you most recommend??????.