Maybe it’s just a matter of growing older, but something interesting happened when I moved into my late grandparents’ house a few years ago. No matter what project I was tackling, whether in the kitchen or on the farm, the overriding idea that grandma and grandpa got by with what they had so I could, too, kept popping into my head. This way of thinking not only changed the way I worked (and ultimately my career), but also changed my shopping habits.


Sure, whenever I get a cooking-related catalog or visit a kitchen store in the big city I drool a bit over all the cool gear and gadgets for home cooks. Same goes for the Northern Tools catalog or the farm store. Every item holds the promise to make my life easier and raise my abilities to the next level. Most of the time, I resist the urge to buy one of everything, content with my uncluttered, if somewhat underequipped, kitchen. If Grandma Draper could make the world’s best lemon meringue pie in this kitchen, I could certainly scrape up something to eat here as well.

So most of my kitchen drawers are empty, or nearly so, but I get by with these 10 essentials–all of which, with the exception of the digital thermometer, my grandma would have used. And, in the case of the cast-iron skillet and grater, would recognize as her own.

Draper’s Essentials:

• Wooden Spoons
• Rubber Spatula
• Digital Thermometer
• Tongs
• Grater
• One Good Knife
• Cast Iron Skillet
• Stockpot
• Rubber Spatulas
• Measuring Set

I want to know what’s in your kitchen. Are you a gadget guy (or gal) or a minimalist like me? Is there something you consider essential that’s missing from my list?