Essential, hardworking tools for your kitchen.
If you follow our blog, you know that we run Cultivations out of our home. It is a small house in a Northwestern Connecticut village. We have a beautiful view of our town from our kitchen and the light in the morning is magical. With all of its charms, there are some challenges with our kitchen: we don’t have a microwave, toaster or a dishwasher and there aren’t endless cabinets to store kitchen gadgets and utensils. The first few weeks in this kitchen took some getting used to: no more quickly zapping cold coffee in the microwave and a much more methodical approach to getting all the dishes cleaned, dried and put away. Now that we have gotten used to it, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t miss the microwave at all: we reheat our coffee on the stove, toast can be made under the broiler in the oven, or even better, seared in a little butter or olive oil on our iron skillet. Handwashing and drying our dishes has become a soothing or fun activity depending on the music we are playing on the record player.
We spend a lot of time in the kitchen: baking and recipe testing for the blog or just cooking meals for our friends and family. Everything we bring into our kitchen must be hard working and lovely to cook with. Some of my favorite items are pieces from the Cultivations collection. Every tool is handmade by artists who have a passion for making well-made and useful tools and the process of cooking with a handcrafted item is truly special. Without too much technology in our kitchen, we embrace the pure process of preparing meals the way they have been prepared for generations before us.
Here are our favorites:
First things first, a good mug is an essential assistant for every cook. I am constantly boiling water for tea and having a favorite mug makes the hot beverage even more comforting. I often like to cycle through favorite mugs, depending on the season. Right now, I love the texture and color of Sydney Williams’ Striped Mug. It is a bold and striking design in contrast with other details in my kitchen. It keeps my tea hot for a long time and looks quite lovely with steam rising from the surface.
Our iron skillet is the most-used-and-loved cooking tool in our kitchen. Everything from toast to eggs, brussels sprouts to salmon and even baked goods gets cooked in this beautiful workhorse. The seasoning of the pan grows more complex and lovelyevery time we use it. It is handmade by Matthew Shirey and it shows with the subtle, hammered texture on the surface. The naturally non-stick iron surface makes cooking easy – you can get the perfect sear on a steak and cook the best fried eggs. Clean-up is easy: scrubbing with salt gets off the stuck-on bits and a quick rinse with water is all you need! Soap is not used to wash this pan as it will strip the seasoning off the pan. Once we’ve rinsed away any grit, we do a quick wipe down with a rag and then smooth a little olive oil on the surface before putting it in a hot oven for a few minutes so that it can fully dry. Often, we cook our whole dinner in this pan, so it makes for easy clean up.
Finally, we spend a lot of time doing dishes and something that is really important for us is a good towel to dry dishes before they get put away. We love Melissa Hanken’s handwoven Hemp Hand towel. The hemp fiber is absorbent without leaving any lint behind on our dishes. It can hold up to a whole meal’s worth of drying dishes, cooking tools and glassware. It drapes beautifully and brings joy to the mundane chore of washing up.