KITCHEN BASICS | Conscious Cooking

Cutting Boards

The function of a cutting board is to take the brunt of a working knife’s impact. To do this efficiently, the board must be relatively soft to protect the blade, but solid enough to protect the underlying surface. Ideally, the board should be made of a hard wood like maple, or plastic or rubber. A cutting board needs to be cleaned thoroughly and frequently with hot, soapy water to avoid the transference of bacteria.


You will be using the following items continuously. As you continue to expand your kitchen, you may want to pick up a variety of utensils to cover your specific needs. Store them in a drawer, show them off on a rack or display them in a container on your counter. Whichever storage option you choose, make sure to keep them where they are readily accessible.

Get spatula, wooden spoons, tongs and a ladle.


I recommend buying one good chef knife rather than an entire set. The odds are that you will not be using all the knives that come in a set, so it is not worth the price. It’s best to build your own set with time. Then you can pair with a paring knife and serrated knife.

Pots and Pans

Pots and pans are essential to cooking. You will use them daily for many years to come, even if you are only cooking one meal a day. It is important to make an educated decision about which to buy and how much to spend.

When it comes to buying pots and pans, purchase the highest quality you can afford. Cheap, flimsy cookware isn’t efficient and will fall apart quickly. Good cookware is an investment.

Highly recommended are pots and pans that have a porcelain-enamel coating, as this material is the least reactive to foods being prepared in it. Cast iron are amazing as well but you can’t cook acidic foods in them. Stainless steel is the most common material for pots and pans. Stainless steel by itself is not the best heat conductor and may cause uneven heat distribution. If selecting stainless steel pots and pans, look for ones that are layered with a highly conductible metal like aluminum. Glass pots and pans are also great are non-reactive to foods being prepared in them and allow you to view the food while it cooks. Copper pots have also excellent conductibility but they are expensive and need polishing.

I recommend brands such as (I’m not paying for saying this) Le Creuset, Mauviel, Lodge, Chantal, Staub, Mario Batali, All-Clad and Calphalon.

About Teflon

If you are using Teflon coating, do not use it at high-temperatures, always add fat before cooking, do not scratch it (if starched, discard it) and follow the manufacture’s directions for proper cleaning.

Baking Sheet

Whether you are roasting vegetables or baking delicious treats, a baking sheet is a must. A non-stick surface will ensure that you won’t have to add extra fat to grease the pan or struggle to remove food when it’s done.

Another great tool to use is a Silpat liner. Silpat can turn any pan into one with a non-stick surface.

Microplane Zester/Grater

Microplane is the brand name for this stainless steel, razor-sharp zester/grater that finely shaves fresh ingredients, instead of ripping and shredding them. This maximizes flavor with minimum effort on your part. This tool is proficient at zesting citrus fruits or grating garlic, ginger, nutmeg, nuts and hard cheeses.