Unexpected Kitchen Gems

Welcome back!

A pretty big part of me wants to apologize to my (extremely limited) readership for such a long break between posts, but the reality is that sometimes, this is going to happen. Life is going to happen. There will be days, weeks, months when I don’t have anything to write about; or I have something to write about but can’t find the motivation or the courage to tap it out; or my day-to-day gets so mind-splatteringly hectic that I’ll get to lunchtime and suddenly not remember if I put on socks that morning.

It’s gonna happen.

So instead of apologizing, let me just say: Welcome back!

It’s been a long, full, tough summer, and I have a lot to share and a lot to rant and muse about. But I’ll ease back into it–for your sake and mine. So let’s talk about some of the random crap in my kitchen!

At least two or three times a month, I’ll be cooking and exclaim to an unwitting bystander, “I’m SO GLAD we got this [insert unexpected kitchen gem here]! I can’t imagine not having it!” And after having accumulated a number of these unexpected gems, I’d like to share them with more unwitting bystanders, in case someone else might also find them valuable.

The following are all items that were almost entirely bought on whims, usually tacked on to bigger, more focused shopping trips. Before having any of them, I never imagined needing them or finding them useful–but now that I have them, I’m SO GLAD that I do.

(NOTE: I am receiving ZERO compensation for writing about these items. None of the respective manufacturers have any idea that I purchased these items, nor that I’m writing about them now. I just wanted to share my favorite bits of kitchen flotsam.)

Without further ado:

1. Glass baking dishes with lids.

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Too lazy to put the leftover casserole into another container? Me too.

These were very much a whim purchase from my younger years, when I was furnishing my first apartment with an unforgiving budget. I was able to get this set for a steal because one of the bowls had a purely cosmetic chip in the edge. Not only do they make great baking dishes and storage containers, but as I inexplicably hate (and usually just avoid) scooping leftovers into another container, being able to just pop a lid on the baking dish is awesome.

2. Dedicated produce storage containers.

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What even is this? It’s amazing, that’s what. Have some respect.

This is something I never expected to buy, let alone cherish. I grew up with the firm understanding that you always had to “burp” your Tupperware and create an airtight seal, lest some wayward excess air get trapped inside and set your food on fire overnight. So the idea of this thing, with a raised plastic rack in the bottom and small AIR HOLES in the sides of the lid, just rankled every food storage sensibility in my bones. I honestly can’t remember what even inspired me to buy it in the first place.

But I did, and I’m SO GLAD. Turns out allowing air flow around your produce, especially leafy greens, is key in keeping it fresh and crispy and preventing it from turning into that gross lettuce slime. My leafy green game has completely changed since I brought these home–I can usually keep lettuce (or similar greens) in here for at least two weeks before it shows any signs of slime. Bonus: Since the plastic rack in the bottom allows some drainage, you don’t have to be as diligent about drying your lettuce after washing it. In fact, keeping a splash of water in there will keep it fresh even longer.

3. Thin plastic cutting mats.

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A millimeter away from just being your counter.

To clarify, I am not new to the concept of a cutting board. Before getting these cutting mats, we already had three wooden cutting boards living permanently on our counters, along with four small boards for quick jobs. But I came upon a four-pack these one day, with a price tag of a few bucks, so I thought I’d bring them home just in case we needed even more flat space upon which to safely hack a knife (honestly, can you have too much of that kind of space?).

Lo and behold, we use these all the time. Not only to they take up basically zero cabinet space, but they’re light, flexible, and dishwasher-safe. These also have a rubber backing so they don’t slide on the counter. They’re great for any time you need some extra chopping space–and since they’re flexible, you can dice ingredients and then just bend up the sides and funnel everything into the next dish.

4. An over-the-sink colander. 

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How. Did. I. Live. Without. This.

Probably the shiniest gem of all the kitchen gems. I can’t even take credit for this one–right after we moved in together, The Male™ and I were at Bed, Bath & Beyond, armed with our 20%-off coupon and shopping for housewares like it was the gravy boat apocalypse. He was the one who discovered the over-the-sink colander and tossed it in the cart, just because we needed any colander large enough to drain two humans’ worth of pasta (read: two pounds).

Not only will this do exactly that, but it also stays put wherever you hang it, leaving you with both hands to pour in your two pounds of pasta (plus boiling water to splash all over yourself, as is traditional). The fact that it’s suspended over the sink also allows you to still put things in the sink underneath it; and if you’re like us and leave your colander in the sink for days (weeks) at a time, you won’t find anything scummy growing trapped underneath.

And voila! You now know as much about my kitchen as I do. I hold these items in very high regard–I’m not really one to go in for specialized kitchen gadgets (I’ve had the same potato peeler my entire life, and refuse to get a new one), but these particular items have proven unexpectedly indispensable. I hope my insight might be helpful to anyone out there who feels their kitchen is missing a little something.

Most of all, give in to your whims every now and then. You never know when you’ll find your over-the-sink colander. (Didn’t I tell you this blog would be full of nuggets of wisdom??)

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