I’ve always thought I was pretty standard when it came to items I use in my kitchen – wooden spoons, mixing bowls, and the like. But I do have a few things that I realize may not be part of the normal kitchen.

Marble Board – Another hand-me-down, it’s one that I’ll probably have to fight my brother for when he reads this. It belonged to my dad, and he scrounged through a marble dealer’s scrap to find it. He brought it home, cleaned it up and framed it. Daddy used it primarily for his fudge and peanut brittle. We do too, but I found that it works wonderfully when I make pastries that require the dough to stay cool, due to the amount of butter in them, like croissants. Marble retains heat and cold, so depending on what you are making, it’s a wonderful addition to any kitchen.

Stainless Steel – If I am baking – cookies, especially, I wouldn’t trade my stainless steel baking sheets for a mountain of gold. My cookies bake evenly, and I rarely have soggy tops with burnt bottoms. Quite a few of our pots are heavy-bottomed stainless as well, and they are the go-to pots when Randy makes Gumbo. Food doesn’t stick to the bottom and it heats evenly. Plus, they are all big enough to make several batches of jam at one time, or enough stew to feed an army.

Stoneware – I have several friends who sell Pampered Chef, and I have several of their pieces. The bread pans are some of the best I’ve ever used, and I even splurged once and bought a stoneware baker. I was a amazed to find that you could bake a whole chicken in the microwave in 40 minutes, and have it come out golden brown and absolutely delicious. If properly cared for (never, ever, clean it with soap and water, or put a cold piece of stoneware in a hot oven), it will last a life time. That is, if you don’t drop it on your foot. Then you’ll end up with a broken toe and shattered pieces of stoneware all over the floor.

Enamelware Bowls – We have these from small ones to gigantic ones, like the one in the photograph.  Randy uses the largest one to mix his meat up to make sausage, and I use it when I’m prepping food for canning.  All of them come in handy, even the 6″ size, for pre-measured spices.  Ayn keeps trying to steal the blue speckled bowl, but so far she’s been unsuccessful.  It’s just a little too noticeable when she walks out the door.

Tea pot – It’s not just for making tea. Randy uses his to boil water for his coffee, and I have a small one I use for making my tea. But we also keep a full one on the back burner to use to top off the water in pots of beans and peas, or to make sugar-water for the bees. We even use it for a humidifier when the weather is just cold and miserable outside.

Aprons – they may sound old fashioned, but what cook in their right mind wouldn’t use one? Especially if they cook like me. Randy swears I get flour on the ceiling when I’m baking. (And there have been a couple of times he would have been right.) I have at least one or two from every generation, and keep them hanging on a rack close by. Randy has one made of camo fabric that Greg gave him for Christmas one year, and he wears it when he’s processing. Now. If I could only get him to wear one every day and do all the cooking, I’d be in great shape!

What are some of your must-have kitchenware? I have one that I haven’t used yet, which floors me. It’s a wooden bread bowl, and it’s about time I broke it out. There are also some that I would love to have, but space is a bit of a problem, as my cabinets have more cooking paraphernalia than I think the law allows. How about it? Can you ever have too much?   Let me know what you think. And stay tuned tomorrow for the Kitchen Series – Part 3: Kitchen ‘Littles’.