helpful kitchen tool must haves from Williams Sonoma

magsnjNovember 10, 2013

Hi!! My kitchen remodel is almost complete so now that that agony is behind me, time for a new agony.....what to put in it.

My friends and family have graciously gifted me with what adds up to $1500 in Williams Sonoma gift certificates when I moved into the house.

I moved from a tiny kitchen so I have basic utensils, a beloved Wusthoff santuko knife, a vintage Wagner cast iron skillet and a rolling pin. Most of the other kitchen tools aren't worth mentioning.

So what do I buy?? I really enjoy cooking but have always made do with tools that were on hand.

My buying preferences.....

I avoid buying things made in the Pacific rim when I can. I know it's not always possible, so exceptions are made.

If it's a novelty item I'm going to use once a year and have to store the rest of the time,I don't have room for it.

PS...I just bought a simplex teapot (unfortunately not offered at Williams Sonoma)...I LOVE IT!!!

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Are you looking for cooking and/or baking things?

My favourite things - a Wok, a really decent potato peeler, a hand-held egg beater (I prefer that to whisks), a pepper mill, lots of rubber spatulas (I am a very messy baker), good quality lifters and serving spoons for plating, stainless steel grater, zester.

You could probably spend that whole amount on a reeealy good quality set of pots and pans. For me, it wouldn't be worth it so you really have to look at the type of cooking that you do and how much. I preferred to buy my pots and pans individually so that I could get the specific size and type that was most useful to me.

Measuring cups where the measuring levels WON'T wear off,

Have fun.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 4:48PM
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Thank you!!! I didn't even know lifters were a thing. (like I said, I made do :-))
I like too roast, and make soups. Steam veggies. Bake desserts. Not huge on frying. Don't think I've ever used a wok.
Sometimes I think I might like a through the door meat thermometer, but I wonder if I'd actually use it.

Who thought getting gift certificates would make me feel pressured to find the things I won't know how I lived without once I have them?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 5:36PM
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To follow up on what blfenton said, please tell us more of what you need/want. Do you need dishes, flatware, glasses, small electrics (slow cooker, stand mixer), more knives, cookware (le creuset or pots/pans)? Would you like to get a couple of really nice things or try to get a lot for the money?

I like their striped dishtowels, so I will throw those in as a small item.

Here is a link that might be useful: Striped Dish Towel

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Ahh, you replied while I was typing. What about a nice le creuset pot that you could use for soup, casseroles, or braising? I have them and use them often.

Here is a link that might be useful: Le Creuset

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Do you make roasts? If so, a quality roasting pan is important. Just re read your post, and you do roast, so a good pan and rack will be worthwhile. The pan can also work as a water bath for custards, etc. Be careful. Some US and European brands make their roasting pans in Pacific Rim countries. Have you looked at the Cookware forum?

This post was edited by kitchendetective on Sun, Nov 10, 13 at 18:01

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 5:53PM
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I'd recommend good sturdy cookie sheets - they will last a lifetime if you take care of them. My favourite small kitchen gadget is Pampered Chef's small lifter. It is amazing. I couldn't do without it.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 6:16PM
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I've been thinking of getting quality over quantity, but if there were tools (like lifters) that could make my life easier I'd want to know about them.

I've been debating between le creuset and staub, and then what size to get.

Would love more knives but couldn't imagine any being as satisfying as my santoku. I love to chop and dice.

Maybe I'm missing out by not having a great cutting board?

I wasn't sure if a there was a big difference in roasting pans. Currently I use a cookie tray and a roasting rack (I was cooking in a countertop convection oven that I was quite impressed with :-) my old kitchen didn't have an oven)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 6:17PM
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I LOVE the heavy aluminum cake pans from W-S. I like their kitchen towels, and have an apron from there. Love my All-Clad roasting pan, and the All-Clad crock pot with the aluminum insert that can be used for browning on the stove,


    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 6:21PM
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Now my list is...

Lifters (look at pampered chefs vs WS)
Roasting pan with rack
Dutch oven
Cutting board?
Cookie sheets
Striped dish towels

It was extremely nice to get the gift certificates, but I have top say, I feel a little limited in my choices from WS. It felt terrible spending money oot of pocket on my teapot from simplex when I knew I had so much to spend at WS.

Can anyone recommend a particular all clad piece that would be super useful? I'm not the type to buy a set since I doubt I'd use most of the pieces.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 6:31PM
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....and cake pans.

Lol. I'm the type of person who lives simply and talks myself out of buying things and tells myself I don't need this is quite an experience.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 6:44PM
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A mandoline slicer is handy to have and will likely get a lot of use.

WS aprons are my favorites and it's nice to have an extra or two for the occasional "guest" cooks.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 7:12PM
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LOL I've been cooking 40+ years, and never heard of a "lifter" until now! I had to google it, hmmmm I guess we never miss what we never had, tell me though, do you still need hot pads or mitts when using these?
RE your All Clad question, since you said you don't fry, or wok, and you already have a vintage Wagner cast iron skillet, (congrats), I would recommend either a medium to large saute pan, or french skillet with cover. Or, just a medium sized (2 1/2 qt. or so) saucepan, or a 6-8 qt. stock/soup pot. Enjoy your shopping spree, how fun!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Yes, a good cutting board is a must, especially for the preservation of that santuko. I like the Mauviel roasting pan, made in France, and a good smaller size for most uses. Too small if cooking for marauding hordes, however. It is also induction compatible, should you ever have an induction cooktop or range. You may want to go to the store, put something heavy in the pan, and see how the handles feel to you.
I agree with bl's spatulas suggestion. I like silicone ones, but I believe every one I have encountered is made in China.
As to Le Creuset vs. Staub, I think Le Creuset lids rely on tight fit more than do Staub, which rely more on sheer weight. I know some here disagree, but this has been true of several of my Staub pots, especially the large oval French oven, and the medium and small round French ovens. Also, the chicken-shaped coq au vin pot, which I use frequently because it cracks me up. That is probably one I should not recommend, though.
Stainless steel dry measuring cups and Pyrex wet measuring cups.
Stainless steel measuring spoons. I prefer the oblong or rectangular ones to the round ones as they fit into containers more easily.
Good, fine mesh strainers in at least two sizes. I like the ones that are somewhat conical as they act a bit like funnels, too.
A good ladle.
More and more, I read the online reviews of each item that is under consideration before I buy.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 7:20PM
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I love shopping with other people's money,'s what I would get - Vitamix (awesome), mini-prep for chopping, really good set of knives, serving platters/dishes/utensils - if you entertain, a le creuset dutch oven, margarita mix (very tasty)... You may want to peruse their catalog for additional ideas. They have a lot of specialty items, but as you say my not be worth the cost if you only use once or twice a year. Worst case, with the holidays approaching you could always buy gifts for others if that's something you celebrate.

Happy shopping!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 7:20PM
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We only have a few All Clad pieces, but we use them a lot. I am pretty sure we have a 3 qt sauté with lid, a 6 qt stock pot with lid, a 3 qt regular pot and 2 qt saucier. And I think a small fry pan, but we don't use it much. We also bought the steamer insert, which we use at least once a week.

We also use a cast iron grill pan quite a bit, it's great to sear steaks then pop the whole thing in the oven to finish.

A good Dutch oven is nice too. As long as you get the right size for your needs, it is very versatile.

Two nice cutting boards (so you can switch out if needed) and some conditioning oil is always a good choice.

We also favor our Santoku knife. Very nice feel to it. I'd also recommend a paring knife and a bread knife if you don't have one. We also bought a tomato knife (serrated) because we actually eat a ton of tomatoes.

Not sure if they sell OXO products there, but the can opener is fantastic. I love the one I recently purchased, and it was not expensive.

Do you have a good set of steak knives?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 7:46PM
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....and cake pans.

Lol. I'm the type of person who lives simply and talks myself out of buying things and tells myself I don't need this is quite an experience.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 8:09PM
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Re: cutting boards. I have the epicurean ones from W-S and hate them. They mark and slip. I would buy one of the other ones they offer.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 8:09PM
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Do you like to make pureed soups? Do you already have an immersion blender? I use ours for all sorts of things: pureeing of course, but also making small quantities of breadcrumbs, grinding a few nuts, etc. We used to have one with a whisk attachment for whipping cream or egg whites, which was great. It's so much easier than hauling out the big food processor for small quantities or pouring a hot soup into a blender to puree. I'm not someone who has a load of specialty appliances, but this is one I wouldn't be without.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 8:10PM
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It's not for cooking but WS has a good horse hair broom that is supposed to be really good - you can search on GW for the thread,

I have both the all clad measuring cups and glass pyrex.. When I need to soften butter, I use the pyrex in the microwave.

I have all clad - made in the US and Mauviel - made n France. I have 1 le crueset dutch oven.
The other items to get are BPA free plastic food storage bins or all glass.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 8:58PM
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Ah, yes, mgoblue 85 ... a Vitamix is a great idea! Sure wish I'd had a gift certificate when I dumped a good chunk of change on mine recently. It is an awesome piece of equipment and I don't know how I managed to live without it for so long. Definitely splurge worthy!!

I also like Flying_C's suggestion for an immersion blender ... another handy little contraption that I use constantly. Mine came with a mini chopper attachment that is great for chopping onions and garlic.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Think about getting a pressure cooker, especially since gift money is paying for it. I just got a new set (Fissler Vitaquick) and it cooks circles around my old inexpensive one that I can't get gaskets for anymore. They're great for beans, stews, soups, meat, and lots of other things I haven't tried yet. They also double as normal pots when you use the regular lid rather than the pressure one; so if you have an 8-qt pressure cooker (for example) you wouldn't need to buy a separate 8-qt stockpot.

I'd also recommend getting induction-compatible cookware. It will work fine on other types of stoves too; it's just insurance in case you find yourself cooking on induction someday. I haven't looked but I bet most of the stainless cookware at W-S is induction compatible already. (I am happy with my plain basic Farberware on my induction stove, so you don't have to buy expensive cookware to get this.)

And since the subject came up, I like my very inexpensive Ikea cutting boards because they're lightweight and have a finger notch cut into the bottom at the ends (makes it easier to get them off the counter). My least favorite one was a huge wooden one from years ago; it didn't fit into my sink so was a pain to wash. So my recommendation is to get wood, not too heavy, and not bigger than your sink basin.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 9:25PM
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...also you might want to look at Cuisinart's French Classic line of tri-ply cookware. I have a few pieces that I feel are very comparable to my All Clad items at a more affordable price, but granted, made in France, not U.S.A.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Many All Clad pieces are now made in China, so be careful. Some roasting pans, ceramic liners for double boilers, utensils, most lids, electrics, steamer inserts, etc.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 10:44PM
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If I had a gift certificate, I'd get a Naspresso machine. So much better than a keurig, but quite pricey.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 10:50PM
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sloooooooooooooooow down!
The credit will last forever.
I think it is "Cook's Illustrated" that has a t.v. show, a public radio show, and a great website. One version of the website is free and you get frequent emails with tested recipes, frequent kitchen product ratings, wonderful tips, tricks. I think it is the most valuable "kitchen anything" available to new and experienced cooks.It may cost something to be a " special member' of their website and get the detailed ratings. But I promise you'll make your money back on the first big ticket item you don't buy because of their information.
They do evaluations of a myriad of kitchen products, and I have been surprised at how often Sonoma's products have been bested by something less expensive. Not to say they don't have wonderful items, but not everything they sell is good value for the money.
Frankly you can get great cookware at Homegoods or TJ Maxx because kitchen fashions change and fancy stores need to move their perfectly good stock out of the store for the newest and brightest. I've seen highly rated rubber scrapers, many oxo products at great discounts at TJ's.
With the holidays coming you can get the newest bluest or red-dist Kitchenaide Mixer for hundreds less than full retail at many department stores

that being said, Here are a few basics I'd start with that I know Sonoma has, and I bought there:
an instant read meat thermometer,
the "real" microplane for zesting citrus or parm cheese.
A good quality pepper grinder (skip the battery operated ones. )
If you think you'll use an immersion blender, they sell good quality ones.(on the other hand, I use mine 10 times a year, so the $30 dollar version suits me fine)

A Lecreuset deep pot is great, because you can brown all the veggies, then the meat and put the whole thing in the oven to simmer. However, I've seen the exact same pots on line and in discount stores for much less than full price. I swear they are the same pot. Be forwarned: these acquire a "patina" after a hundred lovely stews...I've never been able to scrub that yummy brown glow off. I look at it as memory 'stains' but if it would drive you crazy not looking pristine as day one, skip it.

Go to the back of the store where they have the sales items:
frequently they have wonderful linens, including dish towels.
I've also bought great glassware for 1/2 off, as well as the occasional ceramic pasta dish at deep discount.

Over 40 years of cooking I have loved and used weekly the "Alpico" baking porcelain. It is not for the top of the stove, but it is heavy duty, simple and white that goes with everything.
The oval has proven the most versitile. Tuna casserole and homemade mac and cheese, enchiladas all look and taste better in French porcelaine!

You are going to need to do a spread sheet to keep track of all the suggestions

Enjoy your shopping sprees....just spread them out so you can buy what you need as you do more and more cooking.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 11:25PM
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I love my KitchenAid mixer I received as a Mother's Day present last year, so if I didn't already have one that would be first on my list. Would also like the Naspresso machine!

Maybe you could get just a few things and then save the rest of the gift cards for later, after you've had more time to cook in your new kitchen and realize what you're missing.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 1:49AM
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If you like to make soups, I would recommend an immersion blender! I love using it rather than pouring the whole pot of soup into a food processor!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 8:17AM
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Appliances that are right tools will increase your enjoyment of cooking and will allow you to cook faster and better. So immersion blendars, vitamix, spice mills, small breville ovens are all useful. You will never feel like spending 50 bucks on a set of measuring cups but the nice heavy weight ones from all clad will give pleasure every time you use it and will last a lifetime. For cookware and bakeware, I would suggest getting one or two classic pieces that you will use on regular basis. Think the kind of quality that your child will want to inherit from you. Things like aluminum cookie sheets and cake pans, I would just buy online and select a good brand like vollrath or Chicago metallic. Prices online are much cheaper.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 8:47AM
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One of the things that changed my relationship to cooking is taking a knife skills class a few years ago. I'd cooked every night for over 30 years, but the class gave me confidence and control so that spending time chopping vegetables is more fun (and quicker). This was especially helpful since DH and I recently became vegetarians. I think some WS stores offer cooking classes -- you could check to see if there are any knife skills classes around.

A few gamechangers for me, aside from the knife skills (and the new kitchen!): a lamson sharp fish spatula, an all clad 5d stainless steel "essential pan", a breville toaster oven, an epicurean cutting board.

I just want to say a little bit about the cutting board: I LOVE the epicurean. It's lightweight but sturdy, and it stays completely flat and unwarped. Sometimes I clean it by hand, but it's perfectly happy going through the dishwasher as well. To use it, I set it on some silicone trivets or potholders and it doesn't even jiggle -- solid as a rock. I've been chopping on mine for two years, and you'd never guess it had gotten that kind of use. Love it.

Good luck and have fun!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:14AM
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Like a few people above, I couldn't live without my immersion blender. I've tried a few brands and the Braun is a workhorse. Great for soups and veggie purees and NO cleanup! I just rinse in hot water and it goes back in the drawer.

I use a quality nonstick wok for all sauteeing. Stuff doesn't fall out over the sides and it fits in my dishwasher better than a huge saute pan. Use at least 4x per week.

I would get the Le Creuset/All-Clad dutch oven at Homegoods/TJ Maxx, since you're not concerned about having a big matchy set. Waaay cheaper. They always have white and a few other colors. Also got my $$$ Nordicware popover pans there for a song. They have all the OXO stuff, as mentioned.

All-Clad griddle from WS--the big one that spans 2 burners is the BEST. It has a groove for grease and a pour-off spout. Pancakes, eggs, bacon...all at once! Can go in the oven, too.

I got our panini grill from WS and it was fun for a few weeks but now just takes up space. )-:

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:18AM
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Breville convection toaster oven
Bamix immersion blender
All Clad
Sil pat sheets -- if WS doesn't have these, get them some place else!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:19AM
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For me, the smart thing would be to buy quality basics, not peripherals.

Knives: Pick 2 additional Wustof knives and buy them individually. Suggestion: 3rd from bottom paring knife and smallest serrated. Then you have basic knives to cover most tasks.

Other essential tools:
Can Opener This one will last a lifetime. Made in USA.

Cutting Board Set Nice to have a range in sizes to fit the task.

Kitchen Shears. These are sooo useful. Wustof and this one comes with a paring knife.

Microplane grater for small grating chores.

4 qt Deyemere Dutch oven/saute One of the most basic and useful piece of cookware for any kitchen. These are ultra quality and cook like a dream.

Demeyere 2 qt sauce pan another dream basic.

Bamix Immersion Blender comes with a small cup and has a powerful motor.

Brownie pan with cover also useful for cobblers, community cakes and cornbread.

Cuisinart Griddle/Grill This is such a handy appliance as it does the work of both a small skillet and a grill for meats, fish or hot sandwiches. I go to mine to grill 2 chicken breasts or a boneless steak. Think grilled cheese sandwich.

Spatulas, turners and wooden utensils They have really nice quality in this area. I'd pick 2 silicone spatulas, 1 wood stirrer and a turner either for fish, meat (whatever is needed most).

This should about spend the certificate. If there's some left over I'd go for the new Flared Roaster which is not deep enough for turkey but great for everything else. The genius here is the flared side that gives access to the bottom when you want to transfer the roaster to the stove to make a sauce (or just to clean it).

Have fun!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:35AM
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Ha! I don't have most of these things, but now I want them all!!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:04PM
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All Clad measuring cups and spoons. Nutmeg grinder.

FYI - January sale time is great! Your GC never expires. Also, periodically, you get 20% off coupons, etc. Join their email. Make a plan and go slow.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:54PM
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It's important to handle whichever knives you consider to make sure that the grip and balance appeal to you. Likewise, the pots and pans you consider, preferably weighed down and with the gloves or pot holders you are likely to use. I have never had a toaster oven or missed one, but many here love their Brevilles, so consider whether you would use one. Nor have I incorporated an immersion blender into my routine, but that is because I fear scratching a good pot, not being able to reach all the ingredients, and splattering hot liquid. Others don't seem to have these issues, so I would listen to what their procedures are. I use a food processor frequently, and there are many available. All sorts of opinions are listed on other forums. Is one under consideration?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions!!

I'm actually putting all suggestions into a spreadsheet now and ranking them by whether I think I could get allot of use. The two that are stumping me now are food processor and horsehair broom.

I've never used a food processor, so I really have no idea what you really use it for. Whenever I think of it, it always seems like a big thing to clean and store. If it were something I'd use weekly neither of those two things would be am issue.

I sweep now and have three pets and fairly new rugs. I hate when things get stuck in the broom. When I saw horsehair attracts dust it makes me worry that dust will clump to it and I'll have to use my hands to dislodge. I've been thinking about this ever since that huge broom thread started a couple months back.

PS. The countertop oven I did my roasts in when I lived in my tiny apartment is a breville and I have to agree, it's fantastic.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Microplane and Immersion Blender and good knives.

Plus everything else that everyone suggested. How Fun! You should have a blast spending that gift.

Say, I did an internet search for 'Williams Sonoma Lifter' and there were about 6 things listed:
hamburger press and lifter
bundt cake lifter
pie lifter
mini pie lifter
roast lifter
turkey lifter

Which lifter are you guys referring to? The big fork things for roasts and turkeys? Possibly I need some of those.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 3:29PM
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The big fork things for roasts and turkeys? Yup. And they really work. I use 'em for lifting roasts and roasted poultry out of the roasting pan. Yes, you still need mitts, etc., for handling the pan, but not for lifting the turkey out of the roasting pan.

So, nobody has a problem with the immersion blenders being to short for the soup you're trying to puree? What is the length of your blender?

This post was edited by kitchendetective on Mon, Nov 11, 13 at 16:52

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 4:46PM
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mags -- after reading that you have 3 pets and new rugs, I'd suggest considering a Miele Calima vacuum. I bought one for DB and SIL as a wedding/house gift. They have a Persian and he says he couldn't believe the difference it made.

There would still be enough left over for some choice pieces of equipment.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 4:57PM
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Thank you rococo!! I was fortunate enough to be gifted a new vacuum as well that works well (after a year of using it, I'd think the rug would be bald with how much it picks up......yet I had a party last week (the rug doesn't normally get that much foot action) and there they were again, the dreaded rug balls)

I sweep on days I don't vacuum (8 month old puppy who chews up all her toys.....the pieces get swept and any dust onthe hardwood.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 5:18PM
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Of the things listed above, I echo: IMMERSION BLENDER! I am not sure why it took me so long to realize they exist, but I am in love with mine.... for blending soups, sauces, smoothies, dressings, etc. I use it every morning to make a protein shake. (To the person who asked how long the blender is... I have a feeling your soup pot is really deep? I just make batches in my crockpot so the immersion blender is long enough.)

We also use our panini grill much more than we would have expected. It makes sandwiches and burritos much tastier, imo.
We use it weekly.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 5:59PM
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@kitchendetective The metal part of my immersion blender wand thing is 6" long. I'm not usually making large batches, so depth hasn't been a problem. Also, you can get a kind of vortex action going, which I find pulls in food from the edges into the blades. You do have to move it around a bit, but it's not like you're chasing around every little bit of food.

Scratching also isn't something I worry about. However, I don't have any nonstick cookware and I'm generally pretty unconcerned about, ahem, patina. Scratches would only be from the blade surround, anyway; the way it's constructed doesn't allow the blade to touch the edges of the pan.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 6:15PM
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How wonderful to have all those gift certificates to use up. You are a very fortunate person.

I tend to get things that I want, but I wait for, if I had those GC, it would take me a while to use them up since I'd wait for the deals. But, that's just me.

On my wish list is an immersion blender and a Vitamix. (I never realized that I NEEDED a Vitamix until I was here! haha). I also have an inexpensive OXO mandoline and would love to get a "higher quality" one. Personally, I'm finding that I use my full sized food processor less than I thought that I would, and I think that if I had the immersion blender and an even better mandoline, the food processor will become mostly a dust collector.

I'm eyeing up a LeCrueset...and if you are flexible on colors, I find that WS sometimes has different pieces on sale/clearance.

A recent favorite of mine was an Emile Henry baking stone.

Finally for now, I'm trying to decide if I need this or not: the Cuisinart Steam/Convection oven:

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 7:42PM
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I will second the Emile Henry baking stone. It is great for pizza and bread.

Regarding blenders, I would say read through the "help me like my vitamix" threads on here. A Vitamix is so expensive and they hardly ever go on sale, so it may be that if you think you would want one the gift card would be a good opportunity to splurge. They are great for so many things.

Finally, everyone is right when they say take your time. You may be able to find some great things on sale. You've gotten a lot of great feedback!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 8:58PM
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Very interesting reading the recommendations. Congratulations and do let us know the final results!

My suggestions:

Above all - sign up on their email list and wait for the 20% off sale. Sure to be coming soon over the holiday season.

I do love Williams-Sonoma but am one of the first to admit that they're not always the best choice.

Seconding GWlolo here - do get the heavy measuring cups and also 2 sets of the measuring spoons.

Do get a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

Love their Apilco line; dishes and bowls.

And here are my don'ts:

Instead of an All Clad set - buy Walmart's Tri-Ply Tramontina. Far, far less expensive and great quality. (There are a few threads on GW; I've had Calphalon and a few All Clad pieces; really like the Tramontina).

Instant read thermometer - there is only one! The Therma-pen.

The vitamix is a wonderful tool but very pricey; I'd suggest not buying it from W-S. (Check the Vita-mix website; they offer refurbished ones).

Pressure cooker - again, great tool and I love mine. No need to buy from W-S. I have the Presto Professional and would be pleased to do an infomercial on it :)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:37PM
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A really good quality enameled cast iron dutch oven, a roasting pan with rack and lid, a pizza stone, a pizza peel, a set of good knives and a shapener, a mini-food-processor like the Cuisinart mini. Also, I have found that I cook faster and better if I am wearing a good cute apron. So pick one up while you're there.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:46PM
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I vote for

All Clad D5 cookware--I got the small 5 piece set which has some smaller pieces that I use all the time (2 quart saucepan, 3 quart sauté pan and a French skillet). I also added the 4 quart D5 essentials pan. That all together will get you the bonus, which includes the lasagna pan and the Marcella Hazan cookbook.

Microplane--an absolute must.

Immersion blender--absolutely.

Vitamix for smoothies, among other things. But I have to say that yesterday I made butternut squash soup and tried to use the Vitamix. My batch was too big and frankly, I found it easier to just dump the whole thing into a soup pot and stick in the immersion blender.

A cast iron skillet.

Can I put in my pitch for the OXO avocado tool? I am not big on single use tools, but this one is an exception.

A good santoku knife, bread knife and chef knife.

And a Nespresso machine.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Thank you, lolauren and Flying c. I guess if I were going to use an immersion blender, I'd have to plan to use a shallower pot than I usually use. I do tend to be very gentle on my cookware. Will have to think about that.

I am not the greatest fan of All-Clad. Never loved the handles and felt other cookware functioned more like I wanted it to. All Clad offers one gazillion pieces, though, and the brand certainly has a serious following. I encourage O.P. to examine and handle a lot of different pans at WS. Demeyere (various lines), AC, Mauviel (copper and stainless), Le Creuset, Staub, WS brand, Calphalon in its various incarnations, and whatever else is about. I'd also encourage watching demonstrations of small appliances. 20% off Tabletop is going on now, I believe. Not sure how long that lasts.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 11:13PM
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I have two sets of the 8oz Sienna glass mugs (made in Spain) and we love them. They are the perfect size for milk and juice (not too big, not too little) and with the handle, it is easier for kids. I have received sooooo many complements on those glasses. And in 5 years of use, we have only broken one...from a direct fall when unloading the dishwasher.

Since I have ordered from W-S in the past, at least once a month I get a 15% off coupon code in my email. I bet you can sign up for emails from them and get that offer too. Also, a few times a year they offer free shipping and I am pretty sure they let me know that via email. William Sonoma is one of those places that I would never order from without a coupon code...make that $1500 stretch.

Ditto on the dish towels .... I always have a supply of those!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 6:25AM
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You can also use those gift certificates at all of the WS affiliated stores, e.g. Rejuvenation, West Elm, Pottery Barn, etc.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 9:48AM
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I second the advice to go slow. I would love to just have a WS "bank account" to draw off of when I stumbled across something I just had to have!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 10:03AM
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ChristyMcK much fun to go shopping for other people. I'd definitely go with the bigger ticket must have items first since they are always the hardest to spring for later on (e.g. vitamix) My favorite kitchen tools/items/recommendations include:

Technivorm Moccamaster coffee maker, made in Denmark I think, get the stainless carafe if you can
Vitamix 300 pro series (newest addition) USA
Rosle garlic press (so easy to clean!) Germany I think
Other Rosle tools (e.g. peeler)
Demeyere cookware (Not sure if WS has this)
Le Crueset, europe?
Thermapen temp gauge, USA?
Apilco porcelain dinnerware (from France)

Do you have a good toaster? Maybe the Dualit? I can't speak to its quality since I have a crappy toaster that refuses to die.

Go slow and have fun!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 1:39AM
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Here's how I would spend the money (in no particular order, they're all must-haves for me):

Chef's Knife, Hollow Ground, by Shun

Santoku Knife, Hollow Ground, by Shun

Paring Knife, by Shun

Blender, by Vitamix

Stand Mixer, by KitchenAid

Circulator, by Polyscience

Oval Cocotte, by Staub

Grill Pan & Press, by Staub

I think the list may be over-budget, so I'll stop here. But just input on the Le Creuset vs Staub discussion... Staub performs much better in all respects. It browns better, cleans better, braises better, and looks better.. all imo. I have both brands of dutch ovens, and always select the Staub first. I think the quality is also better.

This post was edited by FoxCrane on Fri, Nov 15, 13 at 19:04

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 3:02AM
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You have a knife that you love. Give it a wooden cutting board big enough to be easy to work on, a steel or sharpener to keep its edge, and a nice block or magnetic strip to store it in/on.

Then keep cooking and check your spreadsheet as you feel the need of something here or there.

You have a minimalist heart, so I would avoid something big, expensive, and only intermittently useful like a food processor. I've cooked for forty years without one, happily.

Likewise, a Vitamix is overkill unless you often make drinks or smoothies that require finely crushing ice cubes.

But you'll take my immersion blender from my cold, dead fingers! If it has a whisk and chopping attachment, it can: whip egg whites, make whipped cream, make hummus, nut butters, pesto, chopped liver, and puree soups. SO much easier to get out, use, clean, and store than a stand blender!

Things I use a lot from W-S that have lasted well and been well worth the $: the set of three mesh footed colanders with handles, waffle-weave white towels for drying (15 years and still going!), an OXO digital scale (not discounted anywhere, so might as well get it from W-S), and a 3-qt All-Clad saucepan with the handled steamer insert (which turns out to be perfect for making couscous the traditional way as well as steaming veg).

A big silicon spoonula is about my favorite utensil -- much more heat resistant than rubber spatulas, cuts way down on cleaning needed for bowls and pots, cuts way down on waste when transferring from one vessel to another.

Big-ticket items that are super versatile: Dutch oven, wide shallow two-handled braiser (which can be used, lidless, to roast and bake, in addition to one-pot prep of things like short ribs and braised chicken w/veg). This is a nice braiser: that will be easier to handle than an enameled cast iron one, but those have the advantage of being attractive enough to use for serving.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 11:14AM
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Nobody mentioned a scale. If you enjoy baking, a good scale is a must. Once I started weighing ingredients, I never looked back. Get one with a metric option and tare function with a capacity of about 11 lbs. More and more cookbooks now provide weight measurements as well as volume. Some even provide metric measures which , when you get used to them, make baking a breeze. Very easy to scale quantities up and down.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 1:21PM
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Oh Ellabee!! You wonderful, wonderful gardenweber! A spoonula! This is what I'm talking about! As soon as I see it go on sale, I'm scooping one up and testing it out, and then probably ordering a couple more if they're as good as I think they're going to be!!

I agree with everything you listed! Thanks for telling me the things you've actually bought from WS that you have bought and thought were worth the money.

Is this the all clad 3 qt you were referring to? I could definitely see it's benefits since it has multiple uses (currently I steam using my fine mesh handled colander that I use to rinse my quinoa and a put with water....or I just put a tiny amount of water in a lidded pot with lots of veggies)

Here is a link that might be useful: 3 qt pot

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Could you please go into detail about the benefits of a scale? I have go to baking recipes (cakes, pies, bread, cookies) that I measure with measuring cups and they've always been consistant.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 8:49PM
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My King Arthur Flour cookbook says to always measure your flour with a scale, fwiw. I have one and have to say that I like it and use it more than I thought I would for things other than baking, too.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:40PM
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Thanks Deedles! What type of "things other than baking too"? :)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:42PM
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You know, when I wrote that I had just woken up (I work nights) and for the life of me couldn't remember what else I used it for, haha.

So, lets see.... Mostly I find it really helpful when I'm portioning things out for storage from bulk packages so I get the same in each bag. I use it when I'm canning to measure out my fruit or whatever. And I always do use it when I'm baking now instead of scooping flour and sugar. I know there have been other things, too like weighing stuff for shipping rates occasionally. Either way, my scale is very thin and battery powered and takes up no room, hardly. Compared to my, lets' say oh, pressure cooker, or ricer, I use this a lot more.

Are you closing in on any couple of things that you think you might want for sure?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:42AM
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I'm kind of late here, but hubby and I received a WS gift card for our wedding and decided to splurge on a couple of GOOD balsamics. We've never been able to go back to the grocery store kind, LOL.

Here's what we normally buy now; it's not super expensive, but it is divine!

Here is a link that might be useful: Yummy Balsamic!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 7:29PM
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I have a food scale that I got from Costco for under $15; it works very well.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 1:32PM
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@magsnj - Something told me you'd be the kind of person who gets excited about a spoonula. Mine's a Cuisipro, with a metal handle, very similar to the W-S one on the left in the link below. Don't wait for a sale, spend some of that free money today!

That saucepan and steamer you linked are the same size as the ones here, but my saucepan and steamer each have one long handle instead of the two loop handles. The 3-qt A-C is one of my two workhorse saucepans, along with a 2-qt Cuisinart Multiclad Pro (I like its more open proportions, pouring lip, and comfier handle compared with the A-C 2-qt).

For a long time I didn't really use the steamer insert (which was a freebie bonus with the pot), instead using a collapsible steamer inside the saucepan. But when I started making couscous the traditional steamed-over-stew way it was the perfect tool for the job. Since then I've discovered I also prefer it to the collapsible steamer for veg's -- no worries about water boiling away before the veg's are done.

If I had it to do over again I'd get the version of the saucepan with a helper handle -- or the nifty two-handled version in your link. It's a near-indestructible pan, and so will be with you when you're aging and losing a bit of arm strength. Twenty years ago, when I got it, it seemed a lot lighter!

Here is a link that might be useful: W-S silicone spoonula

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 4:34PM
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