What’s in Your Kitchen?

The other morning I put up a photo of my kitchen before dawn; it was very dimly lit and a couple of you asked questions about the pots and pans hanging over my sink.  Perfect timing, because I was planning to tell you about some of my favorite kitchen things; so we can start with this!

Almost every house I’ve ever lived in has had something in common.  Cupboards on both sides of the sink, with a window in between.  Is yours like that?  It can be very handy!

Lots of people hang their pots and pans over a kitchen island, but my houses never seem to come with one!  This turned out to be such a great way of getting all my pots and pans out of my cupboards, where they were stacked all on top of each other, falling out every time I needed one, and clattering all over the floor.  Now my frying pans are within easy reach, and my cabinets are free for pie plates, cake pans,  baking dishes, cooling racks, and cupcake pans.

 If you need some kitchen-cupboard space, and you have this setup with the cabinets on both sides of your sink, you might want to try it.  It’s pretty easy; how you do it depends on your house; I have a high ceiling in my kitchen so I needed to have that little board made to screw the hooks into to get the handles of my pans down low enough so I can reach them (very important to measure for that :-)).  In my last house, the ceiling was lower, so I just screwed a finished-to-match-my-cupboards board to the ceiling and that’s where I put the hooks.

One of the things I love about it, besides the pure handiness, is that when I hang my basket strainers after washing, they drip right into the sink.  Brilliant!

Which brings me to one of my favorite kitchen “gadgets.”  I’ve used these basket strainers in my kitchens forever . . . they’re so useful, I have two.  If I had three sinks, I would have three.  (BTW, Don’t you love the heart-shaped sink stopper?  It cheers me up to look down there and see that!  That’s a chicken in the other sink; they have all kinds.  I got them at my favorite kitchen shop here on the island —  btw, they also sell the most delicious aged balsamic vinegar I’ve ever tasted!  You may trust me, sight unseen, it is pure heaven.  Plus (I keep thinking of other things), the orange olive oil; fingers to lips, muah, delicious!  They do ship (508-693-0030).  Maybe you need a small pre-holiday pick-me-up in the form of a kitchen-care basket?

Anyway, the strainers are so big, they hang comfortably on both sides of the sink, leaving room underneath for a large pot, so I can just hang the basket over it to strain it completely! Perfect when making chicken stock, excellent for pasta!

And just the thing for washing and air-drying fruit and vegetables.  And by the way,

(Just thought I would throw that in! You know it’s true!)  The more into cooking I got, the more I learned I could live without lots of kitchen gadgets . . . I’ve managed to get through life without a bagel slicer or a garlic peeler —  I’m amazed at what I see at yard sales:  battery-powered flour sifters, egg crackers (I mean, really!), pickle pickers, sectioned pie slicers, and even a Hello Kitty toaster!  I guess these must have been gifts!   But there are some kitchen things I just couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to, live without.  They seem so unimportant, but for me, they’ve been true bang for the buck.

This is one of them.  Silly thing. It’s a scraper.  But it’s a scooper too.  Mine is really old, I’ve had it a long time.  Now they make much prettier ones, here’s an $8 one made from slate!

But pretty or not, its usefulness makes it beautiful to me!


Using the scraper and my other hand for scooping, I can transfer large amounts of chopped vegetables and herbs from the cutting board to the soup pot, much more than just with my two hands alone, plus they don’t fall all over the floor. That’s good, right?  But that’s not all.

See my scraper up there near the rolling pin?  When I’m all done rolling out this pie crust, my table has bits of dough stuck to it like cement, and about as hard to get off; I scrape the table with my handy little tool, and it’s all gone in a flash. It does make me very happy.  Yes, it’s the little things in life.

I came out totally against electrocution the first time I heard of it.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen Joe put a fork in the toaster; it always gives me heart failure.  Wooden tongs; I love them.

These new (ish) microplane zesters are unbelievable; if you don’t have one yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Old-style zesting, which, for me, always included bits of stray knuckle, is over if you have one of these.  Just drag this zester across a lemon or lime, and the peel jumps off the fruit in thin strips, gathering in the top of the grater, and leaving the bitter white part far behind, where it belongs.  They come in different sizes, for me it doesn’t matter which size I’ve gotten, I like them all.

What else?  Oh, this:

I’ve tried so many different tea balls, and still have these favorites hanging in my kitchen. They managed to stick around for various reasons.  The duck is good if I’m bringing tea to a guest who’s having a hard time getting out of bed.  I found the Victorian silver one in the back at a flea market in England; it has wonderful dents in it, as if a baby played with it.  And was fun to paint!  But for pure workability for any size teapot, including my really big ones, this stainless steel mesh ball is my favorite.  It has a twist lock on it, so no little breakable parts. It allows loose tea to float so all the flavor comes through; plus, there’s room for the tea to expand.  It also works for herbs and spices as a bouquet garni for flavoring stocks and sauces.

My favorite kitchen shop is also where I got these wonderful deep bowls, all sizes, all great colors, lightweight, perfect for all the holiday baking we’re about to do!  *And those are a few of my favorite kitchen things.*  Now I would love to know what your favorites are; every time we get together to talk, I always learn something new! 

I think I know what Patricia Wehner’s favorite kitchen thing is right now . . . She was the lucky winner of our vintage recipe box — she received it and wrote us to say the cutest things:

Oh My Goodness – I got home from Dallas last night and opened my box and joy and happiness jumped out all over my lap and into my heart!!  I took out every precious paper, every precious little surprise tucked in here and there and every precious recipe.  My childhood jumped out of my heart and into that box and happiness spread everywhere!!!!  I love every bit of it and can’t wait to get home and go through it all over again J  Thank you so much for making my fall!!!  Please tell all the girlfriends I will try to send a picture of it (being held tightly in my hands) so they can see it.  I can’t wait to add to it and put it in my kitchen.  I am getting ready to move, and it will be riding in the car with me, NOT packed in a box on a van! Give your kitty a big hug for me – furry children are the preciousness of our days.
Love, Patricia Wehner

That was so much fun Patricia,

And thank all of you for your wonderful comments and stories, that was so much fun!!! And, now, for your reward, speaking of “furry preciousness,” because I know what you really came here for today; you want your reward for sitting through Kitchen 101, right?  And maybe a little recognition for being the adorable people you are?  Oui?  OK.  Jack.  Need I say more, but why should I when a picture is worth a thousand words:

If you don’t hear from me, you know who you can blame. 🙂  Pure cuteness, sweetness, and kitty kisses in the neck are just irresistible.  Girl Kitty is fine too, sweet as ever, but I think she thinks if she pretends there is no Jack, he will disappear.    Have a wonderful day!!!

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

329 Responses to What’s in Your Kitchen?

  1. Pamela Jo says:

    Hi Susan! Love the video of Jack. He’s so precious! Always love to find out more about your kitchen, too. I really like the idea of hanging pots and pans where they’re easy to reach and don’t clutter the cabinets. I have 12′ ceilings, so that won’t work for me…I have a terrible fear of heights. My dad built a special cabinet between my ‘fridge and stove just for my pots and pans. All the shelves slide out, so it works great.

    My kitchen “must haves” are my pots and pans. Back in the day of “Door-to-Door Salesmen” I was visited by one right after high school graduation. He was selling “Thermo-Core Temp Tone” cookware. It was “Futuristic & Scientific and NOT Available in Stores” (LOL!) and I was entranced by the shiny 23-piece set! The salesmen said I would surely want to own “tomorrow’s cookware today.” YES I SURELY DID and I had to have it! Very pricey, but my mom and dad thought it would be a good way for me to learn to budget. I was shocked by that, as they are very, very frugal. I bought the set, sent in my monthly payments from my payment book, and I’ve never had one regret. It still looks new more than 30 years later, so easy to clean, and I don’t know what I’d do without it. Even now, when I have my parents over for dinner, they say “Aren’t you glad you bought the cookware?” Yes, I am!

    I’m glad you asked us about our favorite kitchen things. It makes me appreciate them all over again. You have a way of stirring up so many wonderful memories.

    P.S.~ I spent the day with an old friend. She had a gift for me. You won’t believe it…She gave me Thanksgiving decorations. A new set of tissue paper honeycomb pumpkins and even a turkey! You know I’ve been admiring your pumpkin. I’m thrilled!

    • sbranch says:

      Sweet story Pamela Jo! Amazing, you have the gift, you want honeycomb pumpkins, and you get honeycomb pumpkins, and more!!

  2. DonnaRay says:

    Hello Susan and Girlfriends…..loved being “washed with special memories” (as Ruth from Penn said) as I looked at your kitchen, Susan, and read other’s stories of well-used and well-loved kitchen necessaries. My favorites are all things that once belonged to my mother, mother-in-law or my Grandma…….big yellow mixing bowl, cast iron skillets, Mother’s wooden spoon still purple from stirring all that grape jelly……just love all these things. Thanks for the reminder to notice them more closely. I’m down right rich in such things!
    About Jack……. reminds me of our wonderful black and white Timothy who wandered away one summer day….searched and searched for him! At a Super Bowl party months later there he was cuddled in the arms of a neighbor boy. We exclaimed, TIMOTHY! He casually looked our way as if to say he’d found a better place to be. Needless to say they couldn’t bear to part with him and we were just happy to know he was happy and we were newly in love with another kitten named Precious. Sometimes we pick them and sometimes they pick someone else!!

  3. DonnaRay says:

    Forgot to ask…….what is that moon shaped thing hanging with the pots and strainers?

    • sbranch says:

      Its a moon-face mold — I use it to make a big ice cube for punch — but mostly, it’s just a very close friend to my pots and pans!

  4. Jacqui G says:

    Hi Susan! I love watching your kitty cat. I forgot how playful kittens can be! Our Pippin is the king of our house and allows us to live with him, but it’s been a long time since he jumped that high 🙂 Loved the kitchen, loved the pots…heck, I love everything “Susan Branch”…but especially how nice you are and how you let us into your life. XOXO Jacqui

  5. Angie(Tink!) says:

    It’almost Midnight & before I doze off a Little voice told me to turn on the computer & fly to Sweet Sue’s Blog…ahhhhhhhhhh…it’s like I was reading a Delicious Bedtime Story….I Love Your Kitchen & how Smart You are with where to Put Everything!… My Pots still fall all over the floor at times…when I reach to get them Ooooops! Crash! Bang!!! Yikes :-)…I need to really Think about Hanging them Up! Oh Herbster…. 🙂 anyway…I have Many Favorite things in My Kitchen..I think These days I really Adore My Blue Tea~Kettle…My Kitchen is Blue & White & I found this Exact Blue Tea~Kettle that Matches the Blue in the counter~Tops…it’s so Pretty & when it Whistles it makes me Smile…cause I Know it’s “Tea~Time”…Yep it’s My Blue Tea~Kettle…I Love That Amazing Half~Moon Face Pan that is Hanging Up in Your Photo…where did You Find Him? Ok & Now…let’s Talk about…JACK…Meow….Purrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..Kitty~Kisses….This New Kitty is Beyond Adorable…His Kitty Face…His Paws…He’s So Playful & Funny what a Personality…I can see That Jack Knows He is HOME…I Know that Girl~Kitty will Fall In Love with Him tooooooooooo….She just has to Get Use to Sharing You & Joe…She Will….♥….I Love How Loud Jack Purrrrrrrrrrrrs while He Plays with You Sweet♥Sue….Now I Shall Have Kitty~Dreams….Dancing In My Head…ahhhhhhhhhhh Yawn…..Sleepy Time….by TheTime You read This it will Be Morning…so Good Morning Sunshine…sending Kitty~Pixie~Dust your Way…Wishing You & Joe & Girl Kitty & Jack a Dazzling Day! Yay! xoxo Poof! ♫♥♫♥♫♥

    • sbranch says:

      Good Morning Angie! Love hearing from you! I found that little half moon ice mold many years ago, has always hung above my sink somewhere!

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        Good Morning Sweet♥Sue…ahhhhhhhhhhh The Little Moon is an Ice Mold…Cool…just Flying By with warm Hugzzz for You & Joe & Kitty & Jack! have a Cozy Day! xoxo Poof! ♫♥

  6. Trish says:

    No matter how many things I buy at Williams-Sonoma, there’s one integral item my kitchen is missing: a chef. 😀

  7. Suzanne Talbot says:

    Hi Susan,
    Loved the video this morning of adorable Jack with the contented purr.
    I thought of one of my favorite movies that I watched the other night. Title would be a great nickname to add to the many you will come up with. Great movie and great Stones song!
    “Jumpin’ Jack Flash!”
    The way he plays, it fits him! So cute.

  8. Christy says:

    awwww – when he falls on the floor???? and then, and then, awww when he makes the flying leap for the toys, I mean…… AWWWWW – much cuteness Susan, he certainly is a pet’s pet. What a love. So happy he’s come home to you all. And oh yeah, THANK YOU for Kitchen 101.

  9. Claudia says:

    Jack is adorable, Susan. What joy our animal friends bring to a home. I came downstairs this morning to my two dogs greeting me and I felt so grateful for their steadfast love and devotion.

    On to basket strainers – we used to have one and reading your post reminded me that I have to buy a new one. I used mine all the time – they are great for washing brown rice, as well.

  10. My kitties are 12, 7, & 6 years old and they don’t toss themselves to get a toy anymore and Jack made me remember when they use to do that and I smiled. He seems to have found his “forever” home and his sister is just outside that door and when you feel comfortable you could accidently leave it ajar while playing to see if Girl peeks in or better yet just comes in to show the boy who is in charge?? I absolutely love glass of any type and I have to say that bowls are a favorite of mine in the kitchen….I was lucky enough to inherit my Grandmother’s sugar bowl (she was from Alabama) along with her biscuit dishpan that she mixed so many of her delicious buttermilk biscuits for all of us to enjoy which she started making when she was 9 years old and she lived to be 92 years old. I took on the tradition of making her biscuits and there are only 3 ingredients, Self rising flour, crisco, and buttermilk and it is all in the mixing and she just pinched them and rolled them in her palm in perfect circles…I found that interesting since most of her generation rolled them and cut them out. They melt in your mouth. I cherish anything that belonged to her and the memories of her making fried peach pies and chicken pot pie will be with me forever. Thank you Susan for always stirring these special memories in me…you are such a dear friend to me.

    • sbranch says:

      There is just nothing in the world like homemade biscuits!!!

      • DonnaRay says:

        Our people call those pinched biscuits cat head biscuits….not sure why? Ma Bohannon used to grab up a piece of dough, pinch it off, roll it quickly in her hand, then roll it in bacon grease before putting it in the iron skillet to bake in the oven………oh! I’m hungry now.

        • Melissa R says:

          Hi DonnaRay
          Read your post and was wondering where “your people” were from. I was just making biscuits last night and told my husband MY people (from S.C.) call them cat head biscuits because of their size. Funny because I just said that last night then read your post today! My guess is you’re from the South, too?
          Greetings from Utah!(?)

  11. Kathy says:

    Your video of Jack had me giggling too! He is just way too cute. Yep, we have been waiting patiently to get an update from you on him.

    I thought long about what I couldn’t live without in my kitchen and it has to be my island. It has four bar stools around it and it is the gathering place for everyone when they walk into my kitchen. I set out arrangements on my table runners on it so memories kick in of who gave me what thru the years….Every excitement the kids would run in the house and share with us from school, to college to weddings to babies, would be told at the island as well as sadness and tears. I use it cut out all my fabric and patterns, put my groceries on when I carry them in , prepare meals at and I could go on and on about the memories on that island alone! Someone once told me I should scrapbook all our pictures thru the years of events centered around the kitchen island.

    Kathy in NY

  12. Patricia Wehner says:

    Susan is so right! My wonderful recipe box is my favorite things and it is settling right in at my house 🙂 It’s becoming a combination of the Stewarts and the Wehners cooking, and I just love it! Baby Jack is so cute and looks absolutely content in the Peter Rabbit Room. Big Sister will come around when she realizes it’s her job to “raise” him and teach him what to do 🙂 Ahhhhh furry babies – they’re the icing on our cakes!

    • sbranch says:

      Hi again Patricia! You know I’m a Stewart too? And my mom’s a Pat Stewart.

      • Patricia Wehner says:

        I know:) I meant your Stewarts and my Wehners – a combo of our two families recipes. Is your Mom a Patricia Ann? I think that was the most popular name in 1945, and I was one of the thousands who received it 🙂 My maiden name was Hill, so those recipes are in the box too! A melding of great families!

        • sbranch says:

          Ha ha ha … I thought that seemed a little close! I’m Susan Anne, My mom is Patricia Louise.

          • Patricia says:

            Sorry- can I sneak in? I’m a Patricia Anne and it’s lovely to know someone else who has that name! There were more Tammy’s and Melissa’s when I was a kid in the ’70’s then “Patti Anne’s” 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Of course, sneak in anytime! Happy to see you here!

          • Debbie P. says:

            I would love to jump in on the name conversation! I’m Deborah Louise; Louise was my great-aunt’s middle name and because my mom was born on her birthday, she also has the middle name of Louise. When we had our daughter in 1985, we decided to end it there. Sometimes, I have a faint regret about that but I can’t go back and change it now, can I? It took me years to actually embrace my name ….always wanted a prettier one….but now that I’m over 50….well, I love my name!
            You almost always know that a Debbie was born in the 1950s. I notice so many of your blog followers have that name, Susan. I wonder (and I hope) that the old-fashioned names like Debbie, Susan, Barbara, Carol and Linda will come back.
            Just interesting…..

          • sbranch says:

            Sooner or later, doesn’t everything go around?

          • Debbie Gage says:

            haha Debbie P, that’s so funny! I am Deborah Anne and I was born in ’51! You definitely do NOT see little girls with any of those older names now. My father gave me my name because my initials would then be DAD. I also used Anne for the middle names of my 2 girls. I always thought I wasn’t very creative but, I’m glad I did. Their initials were MAW and that’s what we called my Mom! Funny, huh? However did we get on names!!?? Fun though.

            My favorite kitchen gizmos are my saladgitters and s’kettigitters that have been with me forever. I don’t know what I’d do without gitters! My girls and I named them when they were little and the names just stuck! (Of course, they are salad forks and spaghetti tongs :), but you knew that!)

            Anyway, thank you, dear Susan, for the wonderful things you do to my memory! I’m sure this blog will someday help me to fend off dementia because it forces a person into bringing up all SORTS of old memories, and rememberings are just what the healthy brain requires! You are priceless!

          • sbranch says:

            I love your gitters!

  13. Dawn says:

    That was fun!
    And Jack is so incredibly sweet.

  14. Nellie says:

    I must say that I would be completely at “wit’s end” without my Kitchen-Aid mixer, part of my “kitchen arsenal” for over 30 years! There are days when the mixing bowl is washed many times, just so I am able to move to the next project.

    My pot rack hangs over the island, and it was one “must have” when we built this house 7 years ago. The one inconvenience, however, is for my husband. While the pots and pans are at a good height for me to reach, he is several inches taller, and often knocks into them with his head!:-)

    Couldn’t make it without my cutting board, either. It is one that has seen much action, but is of a material that shows very little wear. I often slip it into the dishwasher for a good cleaning, too.

    Now I’m off for a day of using some of those kitchen necessities. I’m hosting a bridge group tomorrow and have some “goodies” to prepare – cranberry bread, pumpkin bread, and the like.

    I truly love the look into your kitchen, Susan. Thank you so much for the inspiration you give us each and every day! xoxo

  15. Mama Bear says:

    I love a window over the sink but haven’t had one in years…the last few houses we’ve lived in didn’t….this one doesn’t….I have the wooden tongs, not for very long, but I love them and they stay out on top the toaster…they’re great for getting things out of the toaster oven too…speaking of which we have a small rectangular stone in there which never leaves, we just use it over and over…then there is the heat resistant spatula and the wooden spoons….
    I loved this post.
    Mama Bear

  16. Trish K. says:

    Okay. You are making me want a kitten now. Baby animals are so much fun! Thank you again for the beautiful post, I love the pots and pans idea. I need to get to work now, but I would rather just stare at pictures all day long. I love looking at the world through, not “Rose” but “Susan Branch” colored glasses!

  17. Ann-Lis says:

    So I have found this wonderful blog of yours! I wish I had cupboards om both sides of the sink and a window in front of it! 🙂
    Thank you for sharing! ♥

  18. Liz says:

    Dear Susan,

    You warm my heart with your writings and photos!! My kitchen treasures are packed away at the moment, as I am “in transition”. But my favorites are my 40-plus year old stock pot and my super-duper KitchenAid mixer!!

    Thanks for being my girlfriend-I-never-met!!

  19. pat addison says:

    good morning Susan, cold and foggy here so i have my fire in the woodstove going, the cats are curled up in their basket and nice and warm and toasty. they love their basket by the woodstove, its their favorite place to be on cold mornings. my favorite kitchen gadget, hmmmmmm i have quite a few that i love, my strainer baskets, definitely could not live without them and i proudly hang them on the side of the cupboards, i don’t have kitchen sink by a window yet..want one but so far haven’t gotten one….yet!!! our kitchen table is by the window so we can watch the critters in the yard while we have our meal. i love my board scraper, life is not complete without one of those handy. love my saucepans and skillets, but they have to hide in the cupboards for now, no place else to put them. i love my handy grater for cheeses and my lil graters for zesting lemons, limes and oranges. love my yellow ware bowls, have all assorted sizes from very large to very small and i use them all, especially in holiday baking which is coming up fast. love my lemon reamer, and love my crock pots that hold my wooden spoons ( love those spoons too) and i love most of all my beautiful wood carving board, i couold not live without that in my kitchen. its gets cleaned and oiled and is sooooo well used and loved. i love your kitchen, reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen, all warm and homey. well have to get out and feed the chickens, and gather up the eggs, you have a great today, hugs and purrs to the cats, love much, laugh often and live well. hugs everyone, Happy fall!!!!! 🙂

  20. Connie Michael says:

    The wooden tongs are a great idea for retrieving toast….! I’m guilty of using a fork as well…..and I always think before poking it into the toaster “this could really curl my hair if I’m not careful!!!” My favorite pot is an old Revere Ware one (with the copper bottom) – was my mom’s, and I remember many a pot of soup being cooked in it for 45+ years. It’s my go-to pot for soup, chili, stews, beans, potatoes….seems to make everything taste better. The copper bottom is still in great shape! Mom used it for cooking up candy also – she always made those pulled butter mints that are little pieces of heaven in your mouth! If I could have ONLY two pans this would have to be one of them. The second would be my flat griddle pan I use for cooking bacon, eggs, pancakes, french toast, grilled cheese sandwiches & stuff like that. I could survive with just those two pieces! And…. your little man Jack has the most beautiful markings under his chin! What a handsome boy he is!

  21. Patricia says:

    I love the pots hanging over the sink! I’ve asked my husband to try to sort out something similar for me as our sink area looks just like yours. I used to have a wonderful pot rack in my old house but we left it when we moved for the new owners to enjoy. I would definitely be happy to have the cupboard that my pots are currently stored in for other things!
    I had to tell you and the other ladies the following little story: today I went to my mother’s house for lunch and when I walked into her dining room, on the table was a crystal banana bowl (very similar to yours!) filled with bananas. I said “Mother, where did you get this banana bowl?” She said “oh do you like it? I came across it the other day when I was clearing some things out- it was my grandmother’s and I thought I’d dust it off and use it.” I told her the story about the banana bowl on your website and the give away and she said to me “well, I’ll let you win a giveaway here- you may take it home with you!” I was so happy and grateful. So I currently have a lovely old banana bowl (my mother even gave me the bananas! *smile*) sat on my kitchen table and better still….it was my great-grandma’s. Hmm…starting to think before I buy anything I should go “shopping” in my mother’s attic. 🙂

  22. Janie Phillips says:

    Thanks for the kitchen tour, Sue! I just love it when you give us tours. All of your ideas are great (those strainers!), and I had to think for a while to come up with a favorite you didn’t mention. I decided it’s the old McCoy cookie jar that my mom kept cookies in when we were kids. I broke the lid the last time we moved (sadness!), and I rarely bake cookies now, but I need to have that cookie jar on my kitchen counter. Eventually, when you have a lidless cookie jar and placemats that need a home, you will get the brilliant idea to roll up the placemats and put them in the cookie jar. The result is sentimental, functional, and cute (if I do say so my myself). Covers all the bases and makes me feel better about that broken lid.

    I watched the video of darling Jack closely, and yes!, near the end of it he really does fly! He is an aerial kitty 🙂

    xoxo Love you, Sue!

  23. Enikö says:

    Hi Sue!
    Another fabulous post! I’ve hung pans & strainers in my windows forever…in this house I had Jim put the hooks on either side of the cupboards to make room for my little lace curtains & “Cousin It”, the resident hanging ivy that is now taking over the window completely (on my “to do” list to find It a new home). I agree that “less is more” when it comes to kitchen gadgets -though Jim seems to bring home every new kitchen tool he finds. I gave him his own kitchen drawer & I have my faves in an old crock: (1) 25 year-old spatula w/wooden handle, (1) pair of professional stainless steel tongs, (1) 8″ whisk, (3) wooden spoons of varying sizes, (1) slotted spoon, (1) serving spoon, (1) garlic press -that’s it! I only use one of these 9…you’ll probably run into the rest at a yard sale one day. XO-Enikö

  24. Debbie P. says:

    Happy Thursday, Susan~

    When I went looking around my kitchen for my “favorite” item, I realized how much I love EVERYTHING in my kitchen! I’d have to say my baskets are essential to keeping the kitchen organized and pretty. Instead of hanging my pots and pans over my sink, I hang some of my baskets. They’re holding heads of garlic, shallots, extra cloth napkins, etc. I have a basket for recipes, one for notepads and pens, one for bread, one on the windowsill for our medicines and vitamins, one on top of the fridge holding mason jars of canned tomatoes. As you can see, I LOVE my baskets!
    The next favorite thing would be the whirly-pop popcorn pan….makes the best popcorn ever with no burned kernels. I received it as a gift many years ago from one of my popcorn-loving sisters and I’ve given several as gifts since then.
    Love the video of Jack….I giggled out loud with you! too cute for words!

    xoxo Debbie

  25. Sandra says:

    Jack is SO AAAdorable! I’ve wanted a black and white kitten for ages; still looking and one will come along, surely.
    Love my tea balls and strainers, my scraper is metal and one of my favorite “tools” is the milk frother. It takes skim milk, froths it and makes a no-fat latte…yum!

  26. Sandy Richmond says:

    Hi Susan,
    Loved seeing the close ups of your pots and pans. I have a similar window and have not utilized it for that (yet!) Some of my favorite kitchen items are a paring knife I bought almost 40 years ago, my pots and pans rack on my wall, and my Mom’s “bar” pan that I inherited. I loved seeing Jack, so playful. I have a little 5 pound Tuxedo boy, but he is old and I fear we are going to have to say goodby to him soon… He reminds me of Jack- my vet calls him 5 pounds of fury! I really enjoy this blog, and looking at your Autumn book- soon it will be time to bring out your Christmas book!

  27. Tricia B. says:

    Hi Susan,
    Oh my, Jack is precious!! So happy for you that you have a friend for Girl Kitty. I think she will come around and then they will be pals!! I think my favorite kitchen item is my mom’s cookbooks and her recipes. I also received from my mother-in-law some of her and her mother’s recipes (originals) so I am excited. It is so interesting to look at all of them and know they were used years ago. Especially since the recipes are in their handwriting. I am really lucky. I just want to thank you for sharing your home, I love the tours you give on your blogs. Oh and of course your recipes too, made the “Touchdown Chili” last Sunday and it was fabulous!!! You are such a sweet inspiration to me each and everyday. I am sure all “the girlfriends” would agree with me. Have fun enjoying your little furry freinds!! GOD Bless. Love and Hugs, Tricia B.

  28. Nancy says:

    Please send more info on Jack. Has he met Girl Kitty yet? I’m waiting to hear how it goes before I get another kitty. I loved your video they are so much fun. By the way my favorite kitchen tool (besides a dream chef too) is my cast iron skillet.

    • sbranch says:

      Yesterday I brought Jack down in his carrier and set him on the table in my studio. Girl came in later, climbed onto her regular pillow (throne) and apparently didn’t notice him about 5′ away because he was sleeping. But when she did, I heard a low growl. She didn’t run away though. She let me hug her. She has just kept her distance from Jack, no “under the door paw play.” And I think it might always be this way. Only someday, she’ll stop growling. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. We are going very slow. It’s good for the kitty too, because he feels nice and safe in his bedroom; when I bring him out, his eyes are big and he’s a little nervous — so it’s just a question of them getting used to everything. I never put Jack on any of Girl’s regular places. I would do it all again in a minute!

  29. Lisa says:

    Susan, I absolutely love the way you hang your pots and pans and such, but doesn’t the board have to be really really sturdy in order to keep from sagging from all the weight of the pans? I’d like to do the same thing in my tiny kitchen, but am not sure about what kind of wood to use. I, too, am so sick of bending down and pots and pans falling all over the place. JACK IS ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE!!!!!!

    Lisa B.

    • sbranch says:

      If your ceiling is low enough, you would just screw the board to the ceiling and put the hooks in it and it would be fine. Hold the smallest pan you have up to your ceiling by the pot end, stand on your tip toes and if you can get the handle about an inch from the ceiling, that means you’ll be able to reach everything, so you can just put up the board and be done with it. See the scalloped wood “apron” above the pans in my photo? My actual ceiling is way above that, so the narrow piece of wood holding the pots and pans has a wooden support in the center that connects to the backside of the apron — that’s what keeps it from sagging. Good luck!!

      • Lisa says:

        Thank you so much, Susan. I am going to see if I can have hubby do it for me. It would make such a world of difference for me. You are sweet to respond so quickly. Happy Veterans Day!

        Lisa B.

  30. Carol says:

    Hi Susan,
    Some of my favorite things in my kitchen are those that were gifts from my mother or items that she passed along to me. This afternoon I used her huge metal bowl to mix pizza dough and then bread dough. It is huge I can actually knead the dough right in the bowl. Baking is therapy for my mind and aromatherapy for my spirit. For dessert tonight I baked your Cranberry Apple Crisp…the recipe was in our local Country Register….My Oh My! I am making another pan tomorrow for my dad who is a Korean War Veteran in acknowledgement of Veterans Day…the cranberries are red, the apples are white, now if they only grew blue oatmeal 🙂 thank you for the goodness you share!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you, so glad you like it, we just never get tired of that apple crisp. I know you know this, but a few blueberries on his plate couldn’t hurt! 🙂

      • Carol says:

        I love it!! I have so many blueberries that I picked at our local farm this summer!! You are a genius! I cant wait to get started! Thank you!

  31. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan…loved all the pics, stories, gfc’s (girlfriends comments) and jack..what a sweet face that one has..anyway..the photo of the strainer with the chicken soup gave me paws (ha!) because it reminded me of one of my kitchen disasters..ya know..the one’s we ALL have?!?!?.. picture it…Thanksgiving Day..preparing for the 4:00 traditional Thanksgiving Feast, the in-laws are present..want to make a good impression…everything is ready..check the gravey…uh oh..IT”S LUMPY!!! quietly and swiftly i grab my trusty strainer knowing that once through the sieve, i’ll be good to go….to the sink i go..strainer in one hand..hot pot of lumpy gravey in the other…holding the strainer steady, i pour……the gravey…. through the strainer and RIGHT DOWN THE DRAIN!!!! OH NO!!!!!!….forgot to place the catch bowl under the strainer…aauaugh!!!!!! PANIC ensues…what to do!?!?!?!…..ha! what a sight i must have been…then…the COVER-UP……salvaging what i could from the pot and the strainer, i hit the pantry like a Betty Crocker on steroids… looking for anything to help resurect the all but lost gravey….and then..there it was…..from somewhere above…a jar of…don’t even know what’s in it and don’t care…GRAVEY!!! why it was there? ( and for how long? )…i never knew…surely I hadn’t bought jarred gravey..that would be against my religion……this was no time for judgements..acting fast…in went the salvaged gravey..plop went the jarred stuff .. added a bunch of salt, water, chicken broth, Kitchen Bouquet and VOILA!!!! the best darn-tootin gravey this side of my next door neighbors’ house…never told a sole…until now!!!! that’s what girlfriends are for!!! : ) happy frost moon..so beautiful tonight…..love your blog…..see ya next time…c

    • sbranch says:

      Nightmare averted! Good job. Reminds me of that quote by Mrs. Calvin Coolidge; after her maid dropped the turkey, she said “Never mind Mary, just take this turkey back to the kitchen and bring in the other one.”

      • Cindy Maulin says:

        Yes!!! I first saw that story in your book…which I truly LOVE and re-read every year…..all of your books are wonderful! I use the recipes year round and still give them as gifts…. : )

    • Cindy Maulin says:

      OPPS!!! Meant to write “soul” not “sole”…. ha!

  32. Erin Stroud says:

    Just have to say you’ve inspired me to begin collecting tea balls! My go-to kitchen tool is my box grater. It’s pentagonal, and I’ve had it for 20-something years. It shreds (in two sizes!), slices, grates, and zests. It’s in near-constant use. I should name it.

  33. Cindy Garner says:

    I just noticed your sink stopper…..how much fun is that, a sink stopper with hearts….just way toooooo cute!!!! ♥

  34. Shirley Ann says:

    You have the MOST beautiful blog! I am So glad that I found you. BTW – I have that same little house tea-ball. It takes pride of place on my Christmas tree each year. It was a treasure of a find in a second-hand store.

  35. Susan, you will be surprised how Girl Kitty will come around it might not be today or even tomorrow; but, believe me she will in time accept the new addition to the family. I truly do believe it will take Jack being out and about under your watchful eye of course, the two need to see each other for the acceptance to begin though? I can tell you that Girl will make noises you didn’t think she was capable of making and that is establishing her superior ranking in the home…..Jack is young and will know she is his new boss. Eventually the two have got to come nose to nose for the process to begin; but, that is totally up to you and your comfort level (it will be noisey and the hissing and slapping might be part of it) Girl needs to realize that Jack is here to stay. I loved the earlier blogs of names in the 50’s….my name is Deborah Lynn (1955), and I always thought my parents named me after Debbie Reynolds?? not for sure I was born in Japan while my Dad was stationed at Yokota Air Base in Tokoyo and didn’t come back to the States until I was 2 yrs. old. I love getting on your blog every morning to read all the updates on Jack/Girl and hope everyone has a lovely weekend!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Same to you Deborah! Thank you for comforting words on kitties!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Now, don’t laugh–as this is coming obviously from a dog person–but can you put a cat on a leash? If so, would that be a good way to introduce them so no one hurts anyone? That is the way we introduce the dogs, and incidentally outside, so no one is invading territory. Or what if you put Jack in his carrier and let Girl K. check him out from outside first? (Ha, can you tell we are all eager to find out what happens when you introduce them?) 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          You can, I’ve heard of people doing it. We have a cat carrier, we’re now bringing him down stairs in it, setting it around the house, so Girl Kitty gets the message that Jack is here to stay, only as gently as possible. She has seen him, and basically, after she growls, she leaves the area! 🙂 Poor thing. I just kiss her more. It’ll all work out I’m sure. Girl is very shy. I can’t wait for the day that they can both run free in the house and co-exist! Thanks Pat!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            Well, I’m laughing about the hissing and leaving the room bit…our schnauzers can do that act: “If I ignore it, it isn’t there…”, though, we’ve both said the worst thing about having two is that one of them is always looking boo-boo when the other is getting petted so it is a constant effort to be equal and to keep jealousy at a minimum though it is always there–kind of an “I want to be Uno!” mentality with both of them. I’m sure that though you want to be patient and careful, you are anxious for Jack to have more freedom and for things to settle down before the holidays. Before we had Betti, when Fanny was the one-and-only, one night we were sitting watching a movie. Norm was in the wing chair with Fanny on his lap (yes, that name in a sentence evokes strange images!) and I was sitting on the sofa. He looked over at me and said, “I feel sorry for you.” I said, “Whyever?” His reply: “Well, I have a schnauzer on my lap and you don’t!” I looked at him and said back, “I could probably take care of that pretty quickly” and thus when Betti became available a couple of months later, I did! 🙂 Things do settle down though I’m imagining Girl Kitty chasing through your house after Jack…Ha!–the real test is the first time you leave them alone in the house together all by themselves… 🙂

  36. Hello! We at LeRoux at Home/LeRoux Kitchen/lerouxkitchen.com thank you for linking to our website in your blog. One of your readers in California (who shops with us) mentioned the connection.
    I did want to mention one thing regarding your favorite utensils. It’s true, a good scraper is a wonderful thing. The one that you mentioned as made of slate, however, is actually a wood composite from sustainable sources. It comes in several colors, one of which is slate. It is a beautiful and useful product (thank you, Wm. Morris!).
    And thank you for a beautiful and useful blog!

    • sbranch says:

      How nice of you to write! Thank you for the info…it did seem a bit much to be actual slate, but that’s what I thought I was reading! 🙂

  37. Wendy says:

    Oh my gosh! Jack is just TOO CUTE! I adore that moustache! Kitties are the best…Thanks for sharing him with us!

  38. Jan says:

    Just had to let you know my favorite kitchen gadget. It’s called a Clever Cutter. It works like a pair of scissors, but the bottom blade is a mini cutting board. My oldest son and his wife gave it to me as a gift from a nearby kitchen shop he does the website for. It’s great for cutting up onion, celery, etc.

  39. Shana says:

    Thanks for sharing your kitchen favorites and your kitty. I can’t wait till your new book comes out…when will it be ready for us to buy? Is it a themed book…like your Summer, or Autumn book…well, the only season you haven’t done yet is Spring…till then, I’ll be enjoying your blog.
    Thanks for all that you do. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      It’s got stories and recipes, and yes a theme, but it isn’t a season…those are the clues for today! 🙂 Thanks Shana!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Heh Shana, where do you live? Don’t you have FOUR seasons? Where I live, we are waiting for Susan to come out with both a Spring and a Winter book!!! 🙂 (Just giving you more ideas for future books, Susan…) LOL!!!

  40. Karen P. says:

    I am reading your blog today on my Android phone. Too difficult to scroll and read everyone’s comments….bummer. But, LOVE the info on your kitchen tools. And the video of Jack is precious! However, is there a giraffe that’s missing his tail somewhere!? Ha-ha! (Looks like Jack LOVES his kitty toy!) I am staying with my son and daughter-in-law to help out with my new grandson. AND, in the process getting some much missed kitty loving from their two cats, Josie and Simba.

    • sbranch says:

      I love to have other people’s kitties to love when I’m traveling! Congratulations on new baby!

      • Karen P. says:

        Me too! And when my husband isn’t along, they get to sleep with me! Nothing like kitty purring in your ear at night! xoxo…kp

  41. Amy says:

    I just discovered your books and blog, Susan…and I’m already a huge fan!!! Can’t wait to read more 😀

  42. Teri (GiGi) says:

    I love it! I have the same thing: A window (with a beautiful view overlooking the mountains and the valley) between 2 cabinets. My husband came up with the idea of putting a pot rack up there between them. Then…to top it off…we bought some new pans to go on it! I love it. I love having them up and away…but still close enough! I have an enamal ware pitcher that is white with red trim that I keep all my “handled gadgets” in. It was my grandmas. I love it. I have her wooden recipe box, as well as a wooden silver ware box. I actually live in my grandmas house…so nothing has gone too far from its home…including me!! I am not sure what my favorite thing is…I enjoy all of it! My moms motto is….”Use it up…Wear it out…Make it do…or Do Without! I love it! and her too! Thanks for the fun blog where we can share and remember and feel some warmth in our hearts!

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful Gigi, to live in your grandmother’s house! Did you know that your mom’s motto is in my first book? It is! We are on the same page! Have a wonderful day!

  43. Marianne says:

    Butter molds… I need butter molds. Silicone would work best! I want to try and make the maple sugar butter than Susan told us about on her previous blog. Any ideas?

  44. Kathy Phenix says:

    So sorry to keep everyone waiting for the promised recipe. I just saw that several people would like to have it, so :
    “Merry Company Cake”

    2 3/4 sifted cake flour(Swan’s Down) 2 tsp baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp salt 1 3/4 cup sugar (granulated)
    1 cup Crisco 3/4 cup milk
    3 eggs and 1 egg yolk(unbeaten) 3/4 tsp orange extract and 3/4 tsp
    Reserve 1 egg white almond extract
    Measure dry ingredients into a sifter. Soften shortening in a bowl by stirring–
    sift in dry ingredients. Add milk and flavoring and mix well. Then beat 2 minutes
    at low speed. Add eggs and yolk and beat 1 minute. Pour batter into lightly greased and floured 9″ tube pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45minutes. (Brown on top.) Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then loosen sides of cake from pan with a knife. Turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
    Frosting: Beat one egg white with a dash of salt, 1/2 tsp of orange extract and 1/2 tsp almond extract, 3 TBS of Crisco and 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar and a little milk. Beat to good consistency (add sugar or milk to reach desired consistency.) Frost only top of cake.

  45. Kathy Phenix says:

    Things ran together when I went to publish. The two extracts are almond and orange 3/4 tsp of each in the cake. Reserve the egg white from the one egg yolk used in the cake. The egg white is used in the frosting. Hope you can understand my meaning.

  46. karen saunders says:

    with so many comments hate to add to them but i wanted to tell you susan that when i get new kitties i whistle every time i feed them…..teaching them to come when i whistle. and take him in the car whenever you can, so you can take them to the vet or where ever. my cats love riding in the car….comes in handy.
    my favorite pet ever was Waldo, named after the lookout i was on when i got him. i have to say….he did not belong to me, i belonged to him. we were inseperable. we went everywhere together. even to the drive-in. (uh oh…i’m telling my age!)

    • sbranch says:

      Love the whistle idea, was just wondering how to get some control over that kitten 🙂 — did you put your cat in a cat carrier when you took them in the car?

      • karen saunders says:

        no….cats HATE to be put in ‘boxes’ or cat carriers….HOWEVER, if you are taking your cat someplace where you have to get out, you need to confine them. (don’t want to lose them in traffic. ) i also must say, and this is totally weird but true. people always say you should destroy cats with leukemia so it won’t spread. and i did that with a number of our cats. (I ALWAYS spay and neuter our animals, every stray that comes our way and these were usually the ones that were infected.) but i stopped doing that because i could take our cats to the vet a MILLION times and never one meow. whenever i had to take a cat to the vets to put down…..THEY KNEW!!! they yowled and cried and freaked out!! EVERY SINGLE TIME and EVERY
        SINGLE CAT!!! no matter what town we lived in , whatever, they always knew they were going to die. it was heart wrenching and i decided i was not going to play God anymore, (to heck with everyone else.) i just couldn’t do it anymore. i let them die peacefully on their own. cats are weird but it is my animal of choice…even tho i have two dogs now.
        the driving in the car thing if your not getting out anywhere is nice if you have to transport them somewhere for any reason or just if you like their company. which is why i did it. my cat waldo and i went EVERYwhere together.

  47. Katharine says:

    I have a picture of my mom taken at my cousin’s farm on an island off the coast of Sweden. It is a farm house and my mom is standing inside at the window holding a mug of coffee like she’s saying, “Good Morning World”. My mom was born and raised in Sweden and was visiting her sister and went to visit other relatives. My Aunt lives in Stockholm. Also in my kitchen is a Dala Horse and a Dala Rooster. The rooster is suppose to bring good luck. I have a red colander that I bought to match my red, blue and yellow accessories and my mom bought me a salad spinner cause she thinks everyone needs one. My favorite is my crockpot. I love to put it on and forget about it till dinner time.

  48. Jennifer England-Burnside says:

    Wow, this is my first time commenting on one of your posts, so I’m actually feeling a little shy knowing that Susan and others will be reading it. But anyhow, I just wanted to share the “oddest” or “quirkiest” thing I’ve had at Thanksgiving dinner and that is: sauerkraut.
    Yep, out of a jar (no caraway seeds thankyouverymuch), heated up sauerkraut on its own in a dish. It is my husband’s tradition though it turns out to be because of me. (I would have never thought to have sauerkraut on Thanksgiving, though I am nearly 1/2 German.)
    You see, my husband and I dated in college for almost three years. We talked about marriage back then but he realized that he just wasn’t ready (and he was right 🙂 ) so we broke it off–a very sad time. Naturally, our time together had left its marks on both of us. For example, he realized that he loved sauerkraut, though we had argued more than once about sauerkraut’s merits back then. Turns out, he has eaten few Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners without sauerkraut since our last holiday season together in college–he insists upon its presence at the table.
    This came as a shock to me when we got back together as I well remembered his sour face whenever that “sauerkraut” word was brought up. He confessed it was stupid pride that kept him from admitting that by the time we’d broken up, he realized it wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, it was quite tasty. In fact, he *had* to have it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. He said it was his way of remembering the good taste of an old friend. Yes, it’s odd. But now we have our own silly little tradition and I am looking forward to our first married Thanksgiving and Christmas (with sauerkraut on the table), nearly 20 years after we parted ways years ago.
    Happy Holidays!

  49. Millie Ray says:

    Hi Susan…….Cats and kitchens, two of my favorite things. Love to read about your adventures around the Island, and see videos of the things you do. My two favorite things in my kitchen are the Food pantry, and my dish pantry.The builder put in the Food pantry, but the dish pantry, was hubby idea, he transformed a coat closet in the kitchen, into something more useful. I’m not quite five feet tall, and some cupboards are too high for me to reach without a stool. My husband put shelves on the inside of the door of the dish pantry, and I have all my spices there, ready to grab, of course I have them more or less in alphabetical order! We have been retired for sixteen years, and my sweet husband goes around seeing how he can make things easier for me. Aren’t I lucky?

  50. Davett Lee McClain says:

    HELLO!! SUSAN!!!!!…I too have aquired two cats recently,..a black mother cat named Binx and her 3mos. old baby calico named Zooey…they belonged to my niece whom is 21 , she and her boyfriend moved down from N.Y to Pa. and found out her landlord will not accept cats…So guess who the lucky recipient is??? you guessed it!, ME!!! now for the tough part we had a white cat..Casper…he passed..in 2007..I’m not sure if I want to go through that agin or not…but, on the off chance i decide i doo…..what are your suggestions when it comes to the Christmas tree…?????we plan to put one up in the next couple of weeks.. I was told if you treasure your ornaments don’t put them out,..others said, don’t decorate the bottom half,others said don’t put up a tree they will just climb,climb,climb..and the tree will be knocked over….My husbands cat, Casper.that I briefly mentioned.. was already an older cat…when i came into the picture so all he enjoyed doing was sitting under the tree to nap…Do you have any helpful hints? tips? ideas?????also what do you do when ur kitten ejoys walking your kitchen counters??? Thankyou! and I enjoy your Blog!!!

    • sbranch says:

      My grown up cat, Girl Kitty, has never been interested in the tree, so I’ve been spoiled. I’m pretty sure Jack is going to be interested. But Joe is not going to want to leave things off the tree. So we have a conundrum. We might lose an ornament, but we are in the process of teaching the kitty the word NO. Firmly said. He is already getting it. When I say it, he takes off running! Maybe by the time the tree goes up, we’ll have that teeeny little window of hope. We tie up the tree anyway since the time it fell over, fully loaded, all by itself! With any animal living in the house, there are things that will go wrong, but I would rather have that than not have a fuzzy wuzzy little character that makes me laugh all day long!

      • Davett Lee McClain says:

        Thankyou Susan for your response,….Glad to see I’m not the only one thinking about these things..if I can I will send you a few pictures of Binx the mom n Zooey the 3 mos. old on your facebook page..Thankyou again!!

  51. Robin says:

    I have always loved hanging things in my kitchen window, and also have enjoyed hanging my revere ware even though I have no plans to make the copper look new and shiny. I contemplated hanging the pots and pans in my window at my grandfather’s old house, but thought that I shouldn’t. Now that I see yours, I know that my instinct was right. I have lots of cool old things tucked away in the cupboards of this old kitchen and now I feel liberated! Thanks for the idea!

  52. I think that is one of the most vital info for me. And i am happy reading your article. But want to observation on some basic things, The site style is great, the articles is in reality great : D. Just right job, cheers

  53. Debbie says:

    I have the Thermo-Core cookware and was wondering who made those pots. In the 80’s I bought a set and still have it, but my handle crumbled and I want a replacement but have no idea who made it. I have a patent number too.
    Thank you.

Comments are closed.