I spend A LOT of obsessive time doing research for various products I’d like to buy or to add to my wish list, recipes I’d like to try, photos I’d like to take, etc.. So, after the hours and hours of my research, I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that you can come to for all your cooking, (food) blogging, photography and small business needs. I’ll add to it as I learn more, so stay tuned for updates.
Now, I don’t have the best kitchen in the world, or maybe not even on the block. However, I do know what products have worked for me.
FYI, I am an affiliate of some of the below links. However, all these suggestions are based on my experience and extensive research. Basically, when I buy products, these are what I buy (or put on my wish list).
- Le Creuset 5 1/2 Quart Round French Ovens: Um, can I just say I am in LOVE with Le Creuset? Just ask my husband or my friends…I literally drool when I use the Dutch oven. They could probably make a piece of coal and I would want it…NOW. Le Creuset makes good quality, last-you-forever, beautifully- constructed pieces of kitchen equipment. The Dutch oven, in particular, is my favorite. Dutch ovens are great for making soups and stews, braising meats, making roasts, etc. You really get what you pay for with Le Creuset. And they are oh-so-pretty.
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer: This is #1 on my wish list (though my husband would tell you I have many #1′s…and,well, he’s right). This is such a useful piece of kitchen equipment. With all the various attachments , it can grind, mix, roll pasta and probably even play the guitar. However, I use a hand mixer for the time being because the mixer is somewhat of an investment. However, it IS wonderful.
- Cuisinart SmartStick Stainless Steel Hand Blender: This little tool is pretty awesome. Gone are the days of scooping out soup, ladle by ladle, into the food processor in order to blend it together. Instead, just blend your soup in the pot you cooked it in. I have also used this to make whipped cream, fantastic salad dressings, honey butter and hollandaise sauce. It will revolutionize how you blend, whip and mix foods. Plus, it has a very reasonable price tag.
- Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Cook’s Knife: Having a good chef knife in your kitchen is like having milk in your cereal. You just need it. I’m speaking from experience here. I used what I thought were “decent” knives for years before I took a knife handling class at Sur La Table and discovered the beauty that is a good, sharp chef’s knife. Now, I would recommend you go and try out the knives for yourself at Sur La Table because you will want it to feel comfortable in your hands. But, this is the one I use and I love it.
- Wüsthof Classic 3.5 Inch Paring Knife: I believe all you really need in the kitchen for knives is a good chef’s knife and a good paring knife. This is the paring knife I use and it is great. The rule is to use a paring knife on anything smaller than a tomato and a chef’s knife for anything larger than a tomato, FYI.
- Calphalon Simply Nonstick Cookware: I am a big fan of Calphalon cookware. Great quality AND a lifetime warranty. I have actually sent a few pots and pans back after several years of use and they have been replaced without any questions. The durability and quality of Calphalon is hard to beat.
- Nikon D60 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera: This is the camera I use to photograph my food…and my life. It is a great DSLR. I happen to be partial to Nikons, but Canons are really good DSLRs as well. The Nikon D60 is a user- friendly, starter DSLR which was/is exactly what I need.
- Nikon 55-200mm Nikkor Lens: No, this is not a crazy expensive, phenomenal lens I bought especially for food photography. Rather, this is the lens that came with my Nikon. And, for coming with the camera, and, for being a relatively inexpensive telephoto zoom lens, this lens is pretty darn good. This is the lens I use most for my food shots.
- Nikon 18-55mm Nikkor Zoom Lens: This is the lens I use when I want to get a nice close, but not too close, shot of my food. This is another good deal of a lens, as it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to own.
- Table-Top Sweep with Colored Paper Backgrounds: This is a neat little photography tool that allows you to have different colored backgrounds for your food photography. It sits nicely on the table and does the trick. Not too expensive either.
- WordPress: This is the #1 Blog publishing platform. WordPress is free (which is awesome) and is easily customizable. I have also been told they have wonderful support, but I have yet to need any. My blog uses WordPress.
- WordPress Plugins: There are many downloads that allow you to install plugins, widgets, or other elements for your WordPress blog. This is a great way to customize your blog and a lot of them are free, which is always exciting.
- Google Analytics: Google provides a FREE website tracking and analytical tool. This program is wonderful and extremely useful for anyone with a website. Google Analytics allows you to track and monitor traffic to your site, bounce rate, length of time visitors stay on your site, and much more. It’s pretty awesome, though, if you’re anything like me, you will obsessively check your data.
- Google Adsense: Allows you to make money by placing relevant ads on your website. This is free to use, but you have to register for an account. This is a great way to monetize your website or blog. Each time a visitor clicks on an ad, you get paid.
- Google Adwords: You can advertise on Google and select keywords and locations to optimize potential clients. You pay each time someone clicks on your advertisement and you can set a daily maximum budget to limit your costs.
- Get1free.com: This is an ad booklet that is mailed out on a monthly basis to various zones in San Diego County. Each zone covers 50,000 homes starting at the highest income levels and working down to $50,000. They also have a website where you cam access all the ads. Check out my ad for Sweet Pea Chef Personal Chef Services in the 4S Ranch, Poway & Rancho Bernardo zone mailer or online!
- VistaPrint.com: My all-in-1 business form site where I order my business cards, brochures, fliers, letterhead, magnets, etc. Very reasonable prices and great customer service.
- Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Really, anything Ina says should be followed. The woman is recipe gold. I can’t think of a recipe of hers I’ve tried that hasn’t been great…and I’ve tried many. This is a great reference book of recipes with beautiful pictures. Don’t you just want to give her a hug?
- Everyday Pasta: I really enjoy Giada’s pasta recipes. She has a way of making great flavors really pop in her food. Plus, I love me some pasta. So, overall, this book is a win-win.
- Cuisine at Home: I have found A LOT of wonderful recipes from this monthly cooking magazine. The editors must have some secret camera in my home because they always seem to put recipes I was recently thinking about in that month’s edition. Plus, the magazine offers great tips on cooking.
- How to Start a Home-Based Personal Chef Business This is the book I read that made me realize I can create a Personal Chef business. The author writes this book with a clear and matter-of-fact tone that works well for me. Plus, she offers TONS of advice and tips on starting your own business which is based on her years of success.