House Beautiful

Steph’s Favorite Kitchen Essentials

When we had to create a registry for our wedding last year, it was honestly really tricky (but I mean, listen… I MANAGED)… at that point in time at the ripe age of 38, I’d already amassed loads of great kitchen swag… so we just didn’t really *need* a whole lot.  I had (in previous years) written guest posts for other publications about “the Perfect Registry” – which was really more a matter of making pretty eye candy on a mood board than actual functionality.  And after we got engaged, I read oodles of blog posts on the stuff people *actually* ended up using that they registered for (versus what looked pretty but took up space & got dusty after the wedding – e.g. a KitchenAid mixer… but it all depends on your lifestyle).  Anyhow – the extra swag I wanted to register for were things that would be timeless, so we did add a few rad things to our arsenal.  I also once heard a married friend say that the best part about wedding gifts was that (you’ll think of the person who gave it to you) every time you use it – and that I have found to be true.  So, I thought I’d round up my favorite things like this shun classic knife set, in case it might be useful for any soon-to-be brides, or just anybody who wants to give their pantry a refresh!

1. Charcuterie Board, $140.  Not sure if these are supposed to be used for cutting (or just for cheese & meat spreads) but I have literally butchered ours and I love it more for the wear.  Karrie & Melissa got this for me for my birthday back in 2016 and it still looks great.

2. Gingham Napkins (20″ x 20″), $20 eachComing mid-February to the shop! (message me for pre-order)  We have the tea towel version of these now and it is one of my favorite things.  Neutral enough to look good with everything (but not beige), the perfect weight and rumply-ness, washes up nicely…  all that jazz.  I know, I know – $20 seems a little steep to spend on a single napkin, but I bought (similar linen striped ones) in the Hamptons probably 8 years ago that are the same texture / quality / weight, and they are still my favorite thing, and something we use daily.  How’s the old saying go that I tell my clients all the time?  “Buy the right thing the first time around and you’ll only cry once.”

3. Oval Nesting Measuring Cups, no longer available.  This is a jerk thing to put on a list of favorite things because they’re so scarcely available, but I freaking love these suckers.  My homegirl Lindsay Aherne turned me onto them – they’re from Williams-Sonoma, they’re oval so they tuck a little easier into space in a drawer, they’re stainless steel so they’re bulletproof, and they come in all the odd increments (e.g. 1-1/4 cups, 2/3, 3/4 etc etc).  Here’s the link – some are still available for pickup in select stores.

4. SMEG Electric Kettle in Cream, $160.  We make French press coffee every morning, and (for the longest time) I would boil a big saucepan of water, then wobble & painstakingly pour it into the French press and try not to also pour boiling water (all over myself).  We had a friend staying with us from out of town last year and she watched me doing it and was like: “Honey, it’s time for a tea kettle.”  This is SO MUCH BETTER.  Works great and looks cute as a button on the countertop, too.

5. Lodge 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet, $22.  I think we use this at least 3x/day.  I find that eggs (over-easy or over-medium) do much better in this than a non-stick, and it’s the best for grilled cheese, searing any sort of meat… anything.

6. Joule Sous Vide, $250.  This thing might be the #1 thing on this list I’d recommend you buy if you want to make restaurant quality meat at home.  The first time we made filets with it, we took a bite and looked at each other and were like: “EHMYGYAH are we at Elk Prime Steakhouse or are we in our living room?”  IT. ROCKS.  Thanks Cousin Liz!

7. Italian Wine Glasses, $26 eachThese beauties from Nickey Kehoe are the closest I can find to the vintage ones I got at a little shop in Paso Robles during our mini-moon.  They are uber timeless, feel nice to hold and are just a little more special than a standard wine glass.  I always reach for one of these first when I hear the pop of a wine cork.

8.  Staub 7-quart Dutch Oven in Truffle, $375.  I use this thing all the time.  A few times a week, at least.  I wondered when I registered for it if it would be that thing that I used once a year, or if it would be too big (they also make a 5 quart and a lots-of-other-smaller-sized-quarts), or if it was too pretentious to register for something with that price tag (luckily, my amazing mother-in-law who’s a great cook and loves nice things got it for us and was like: “IT IS MY FAVORITE THING AND HOPEFULLY IT WILL BE YOURS!”)  And it is!  It’s perfect for a pot of chili for me & Chris (plus a few rounds of leftovers), or a big pot of soup, or last year on New Years, I made a short rib dinner for 6 (also Joyce’s recipe).  The Truffle color was super hard to find (still is) but it is SO PERFECT.  It’s somewhere between an off-white and grey but with these little speckles in it.

9. Modena Tumblers in Lilac, $54 per set of 2.  I would never say purple is my favorite color-color, but it may be my favorite accent color.  So these – in the palest lilac – look great with EVERYTHING.  If you won’t take my word for it, Julia Berolzheimer also has them, so you know they’re kewl.  You’re welcome.

10. Mauviel Copper & Brass Roasting Pan, $270Another thing that felt frivolous putting on a registry, but another thing I use all the time and will have forever.  It’s surprisingly non-stick, roasts super evenly, and is really easy to clean.  Looked gorgeous on Thanksgiving with a turkey in it, and looks gorgeous with veggies roasting in it on a Tuesday night.  Thanks Mulligan!

11. Hamilton Beach 8-cup Food Processor, $40.  I generally believe that you get what you pay for – so I’ve seen $300 lookalike food processors, but this thing, I swear, has about 1 zillion horsepower.  Works & cleans up like a boss, and we’ve had it for years.  I do everything with it – make homemade pesto, salsa and hummus, chop nuts, and chop onions & garlic when I don’t want to (touch them) because we know that makes your hands stank for days.

12. The Ove Glove, $17Not the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, but who cares because it’s heat resistant up to 540 degrees, and that’s the key.  Also, the glove (versus a mitt) gives you more control when handling hot potatoes.  Perfect for anything, but especially for touching the cast iron pan handle or pulling something out of the broiler.

13. Microplane Cut-Resistant Gloves, $15.  Chris said once that (for having been a D1 college athlete back in the day with good hand-eye coordination), I might be the clumsiest person he knows.  He is not wrong.  I grated my knuckles one too many times on cheese graters & zesters, and then I found these.  I wear them when I’m using anything sharp… including a mandoline.

14. Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus Cetrifugal Juicer, $150.  If you’ve ever wondered why fresh squeezed juice from a Juice Joint is so dang expensive, try using any juicer and it makes you realize just how many fruits & veggies you have to use to make 1 measly glass of juice.  That said… this sucker is totally worth it.  I use it daily.  You can throw in whatever you’ve got, but here are a few favorite combos:

for every day – a few stalks of celery, a few carrots, a HUGE hunk of ginger, 1/2 an apple, 1/2 an orange and a handful of fresh spinach.  Beets are always great if you have them.  Makes about 1.5 glasses.

if you are feeling sick – a raw lemon (or 2), an even bigger hunk of ginger, an apple and a few stalks of celery.  I woke up last Saturday sneezing and with my nose running like a faucet, so I made myself a glass of (this) and it knocked it right out.  Makes 1 glass.

One other thing I love that I couldn’t fit on this mock-up: this mandoline (thanks Aunt Diane & Uncle Pete!)  It’s so scary I call it the guillotine – ha!  You HAVE to be extremely careful, then use the cut-resistant gloves, plus use the safety tool that comes with it.  And maybe a hazmat suit & some armor.  But it’s a boss.

Happy Shopping!!

xo,

Gift Ideas | FOR THE HOME

WHAT’S UP TEAM!  Here are a few of my faaaaavorite things:

Crystal Champagne Coupes, Etsy, $168.  I’m crying as I type this because I wanted to order these so badly, but a) we don’t need them, but b) if I bring one more set of glassware into this house I swear Chris will serve me with divorce papers.  So, may the fastest typing hands win them.

Rattan Scallop Ottoman Tray, 20″ x 20″, Covet Living Interiors, $150.  I love this thing so much.  I am about to place an order for them so I can’t promise they’ll get shipped from my shop to you before Christmas which makes this gift guide item a huge bust; nonetheless, let me know if you’d like a swell January surprise 🙂  We’ve all seen a joe schmo tray, but this one ups the ante with the scallop detail – 4.5″ high.  Holla for preorder!

Bone Inlay Frame, Etsy, $65 for 8×10.  Probably also not getting to you by Christmas OHMYGYAH I AM THE WORST – does it still work to gift wrap a Polaroid of whatever you got so-and-so that’s not here yet?  Anyhow – I think this is so beautiful and you can specify your color which I love.

Blue Crush Artwork, 57″ x 41″, Covet Living Interiors, about $750 shipped (depends on destination), January delivery.  My New Years rager continues.  Christine Flynn has some similar, surf-radical stuff on One Kings Lane, but this one is my favorite.  I did it in one lovely client’s house in LA and it’s a stunner.  Send me an email to place an order!

Farm Table Plank, 40″ x 10″, Hudson Grace, $195.  Someone just bought this for us from our registry and I am straight tickled to get it.

Brass Clean / Dirty Dishwasher Magnet, Sir | Madam, $34.  Thirty four dollars is a lot for a magnet, but not having your S/O have a reason to say: “I didn’t unload the dishwasher cuz I didn’t know if they were clean or dirty” = priceless.  THIS CAPTION WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 30 SECONDS.

Gingham Napkins in Cognac & Blue, Covet Living Interiors, $110 per S/4.  Another day, another January party.  These JYEST came back in stock after almost a year of being impossible to find.  I have the dish towel version and the weight and texture is perfection.  You will have these forever.  Holla for preorder!

The Prettiest & Most Vibrant Bolivian Frasada You Have Ever Seen, 56″ x 64″, Covet Living Interiors, $350.  These are HARD TO FIND in great condition and especially in the right colors.  This is the happiest textile I have in the shop.  Dying to cover (a bench, a chair – anything) in it but I just ran out of time and it’s so good, I feel like I should send it out into the universe.

Here’s a dining bench we used another one on in a client’s house 2 years ago… and at that point, that one was the most vibrant one I’ve ever seen.

Vintage Anatolian Runner, 43″W x 109″L, Covet Living Interiors, $1300.  This is one of those pieces that I will probably cry when it sells.  It is really beautiful – purples/violet, this greyish sage color, and then the pumpkin.  I acquired it years ago but never really found a place for it, so it’s a recent addition to the shop.  Holla for dibs.

Rialto Rocks Glasses in Millicent, S/2, Sir | Madam, $52.  What kind of list would this be if the caboose was something that was actually in stock?  It DOES come in the most beautiful rainbow of colors – and also in coupes / martini glasses etc – but the green was calling to me.  I would have these except, again, I’ll be in timeout till 2022 if I bring more glassware across that threshold.

Happy Trails & Happy Shopping!  For any of the items listed at Covet Living Interiors – holla at me to order – stephanie.m.ballard@gmail.com.  I’m off to polish off the rest of the cookie dough in the fridge and pretend like I’m starting a cleanse in the morning.  See yaaaaaaaaa!

xoxo,