It’s ten thirty and Ian is supposed to be here any minute, which means I have an hour to kill, so I’ll give you a list of my five favorite kitchen tools, the things I use more than anything else.

1. Zwilling J.A.Henckels 8″ Santoku knife. Obviously, anyone who has ever spent enough time in a kitchen to make a sandwich will tell you the benefits of a good knife, but what you should know is that a great knife is the knife you use. I have several knives, and this is the one that, for some reason, sits in my hand the best. I have a Wustof 8″ Cook’s Knife, or as it says on the sleeve “Kochmesser”, that I use a lot as well, but there’s something about the way the Santoku sits in my index finger that feels like a violin bow.

Knives are basically like tennis rackets anymore. Spend around 200 dollars and get one the seriously improves your game. But, understand that you can spend 500 dollars on a knife you never use, and a 30 dollar knife will just feel right in your hand.

2. Spring Loaded Tongs. I have three sets of these, one regular straight up stainless, one with plastic coated tong ends and one super long ones for grilling. I don’t grill, I don’t know what the hell I’m still doing with the six foot long tongs, but the other ones I use all the time. They have a scalloped end and both pairs open when you bump the butt of the tongs against your hip.

Any time I’m frying something, any time I’m making soup, any time I’m braising meat or chicken… I mean, I don’t know how people cook without these. Up at the farm one weekend, I realized that if I couldn’t find the tongs I would simply be unable to make dinner. I think most people think they can’t cook because most people haven’t realized how useful tongs are.

3. Williams-Sonoma Heat Resistant Non Stick Spatula. My dad has given me great advice over the course of my life. He’s the one who told me that, even as a freelance artist, you should get out of bed nice and early every morning and start working. He also told me to put on my socks before my pants, a habit I have never broken. Better than all of that, he told me about these spatulas. You can submerge them in frying oil, you can leave them sitting in a saute pan, you could put them in a baker’s oven and they won’t warp or fall apart. And, I use mine to scrape the inside of the bowl when I’m making everything from soup to bread to cookie dough.

Spatulas are magic. I don’t know how people cooked when all they had was spoons. I suppose you had to make enough food to feed everyone, plus the food you weren’t going to get out of the bowl. When I’m making bread or pasta or any baked goods, and I’m adding the wet to the dry ingredients, I wonder if the recipe is altered for the amount of egg and milk left in the bowl if you don’t use a spatula.

4. Kitchenaid Bowl Mixer- This instrument means I make bread. I would not make bread without it, I just wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t make cookies quite as much, but that’s not nearly as important.

I make my own bread, and I try not to eat too much bread that I haven’t made, and here’s why. I can control the healthiness of the bread I make. A lot of bread is marked as “low carb” or whatever, but mostly that’s because they cover the loaf in nuts and fiberous crap that supposedly cancels out the carbs and adds to the vitamins. But I don’t like crust very much, and my wife and mom don’t eat the crusts, which means they miss out on the vitamins and carb-cancelling fiber.

I make bread using high protein whole weat flour. It’s hard to make a good loaf out of this stuff, but since it costs almost *nothing* to make bread, and since my bread hook cuts down on the amount of time I have to knead the dough from an hour to about three minutes, I can keep trying until I get it right.

For some reason, when I make bread, it stays good for about five days. I’m not lying. Five days later, it’s still moist, it still tastes great. I make a hunkin’ loaf and it lasts forever. For *nothin’*. And I couldn’t do it without the Kitchenaid.

5. Large Ceramic and Metal Bowls. I have several, and I really wish I had more. I mix giant salads and then eat them. I let dough rest and rise. I hold mis-en-place and mirpoix. I whip eggs and milk. These big-ass bowls are the other thing that most would-be cooks are missing, and they are always the thing that they take for granted on cooking shows. They throw together omelet makings into a huge tuscan cermic beautiful bowl and then look at the camera and talk about wisk technique. Meanwhile, we’re sitting at home with a wisk, all the right ingredients, and a cereal bowl trying to get air into the eggs.

I have three glass, three ceramic and two metal bowls, and I use some combination of them every single time I cook.

Honorable mention-

My wisks- I have three and yes, they are used for different things at different times. A big wide balloon wisk, a skinny long wisk and a regular egg whipping wisk.

Pastry Cutter- This is just a large flat piece of metal, slightly sharp on one end and rolled over on the other. I use it to move ingredients, cut bread dough in half and cleaning the counter. Sure. I clean the counter before I roll out dough or knead bread, and then I use the pastry cutter to clean up all the extra flour.

Stick Blender- Now that I have this I never use a blender. I also use a piece of cardboard with a small hole cut in the center as a lid over whatever I’m cooking.

Thermometers- I have two. One is an oil/candy thermometer, the other is a remote with a long wire. Both are digital. Bread? Done at 185. Chicken? Breast meat 160. (I know, I know, I don’t think it’ll kill me). Stew meat? 165, Turkey Thigh? 180.

I mean, yeast blooms best at 110 degrees, so if I’m making, say, sandwich bread, I heat the milk and honey until they are about 120, I pour in a third of a cup of water (it drops to about 113) and then I stir in the yeast. Stirring cools things, and the last of the yeast slips into a perfect warm sugar bath. Mo more “use warm water” instructions for me.

Things I still want-

1. Viking Stove. My current stove is about 12 pounds. I need a stove I can’t lift.

2. Counter Space. My kitchen is ridiculous.

3. Small stock pot. For some reason, I have soup pots and one 64 gallon bememoth.

4. Dishwasher. I don’t mind doing dishes, but our water isn’t very hot and I worry.

5. New Microwave. Ours is full of food crud, and no-one wants to clean it.

6. A full size refrigerator. We bought an “apartment sized” fridge because it was 300 dollars less and, well, we live in an apartment. Huge mistake. It holds about three days worth of food. We end up throwing stuff out just to make room.

7. A Rich and Rewarding Career as An Actor. I mean, as long as I’m asking…