Let’s Dish: What kitchen item would you save from your burning house?

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by Amy Flanigan on March 22, 2010 · 46 comments

It’s full steam ahead for our move next week. As our household purging continues, I am reminded that I’m really not that sentimental when it comes to “stuff.” I cannot relate to hoarders. First, I hate clutter. HATE. I’m a minimalist. Second, I try to live by a general rule that my wise Mom once said to me, “If you haven’t used it in two years, you’re not going to.” It’s true.

I do, however, cling to so many of my kitchen appliances which have collected dust, cookbooks I haven’t opened in eons, utensils where their function eludes me, and an apron that I have never worn once.

Got me thinking – if my house caught fire and I only had time to save one item from my kitchen/pantry, what would it be? (Keeping in mind, I could be risking serious injury or death, here.)

It was challenging for me, since I cook almost every night and find ALL my kitchen accessories vital. But, if I had to choose just one thing, it would have to be my nonstick-12 inch-deep sauté pan. I rely on it for 85% of the dishes I make.

Funny thing is, the original owner was Paul. Along with a toothbrush and chair, it was the only other physical item he brought to the relationship when we moved in together. Personally, I think it sealed the deal. The man knows good cookware…even if he did use it as a large paperweight.

What item would you save? It can be anything – spices, a spatula, a chip-clip.



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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

lo March 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Oh, gosh. Even my kitchen stuff, for the most part, is still “stuff”… but there must be something.

That said, I’m gonna opt for the set of cast iron pans I inherited from my grandmother. You just don’t get that kind of seasoning on any newfangled preseasoned pans… and I know there are stories all wrapped up in those pans that make my food taste all the better when I cook with them.


Amy March 27, 2010 at 8:07 am

Karen – I LOVE it!! Absolute keepsakes worth saving, for sure. Thanks so much for stopping by.


Karen March 27, 2010 at 12:11 am

It would and MUST be, my self-assembled “Holiday” cookbooks… ANYthing else can be repurchased…Those books are my collected, celebratory recipies of all the wonderful things I do for special days such as “Marvelous Mardi Gras”, “A Grand St. Patrick’s Day Feast”, “All-American Party Weekends”, “Cinco de Mayo” & “The Baum Family Thanksgiving, Christmas Holiday Book”… Treasures I’ll NEVER be able to re-research, duplicate or pull up on the Internet in the same way again…


Amy March 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Jamie – Hi Jamie, always a pleasure when you stop by! All the top chefs say you just need a good set of knives…appliances are unnecessary. Probably true.

Dani – Better late than never! I always love when you chime in. Family heirlooms are so precious, no? I totally understand their meaning. I have an original cookbook from my Great Nan and an apron that she made and wore, which is about 65 years old. They mean the world to me.


Dani H March 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I LOVE that you converted a bedroom to your pantry, Amy!!!! I took my 6′ x 6′ solid oak livingroom entertainment center and converted it to use in the diningroom to hold all of the wonderful kitchen/dining items that I inherited from my mother. I’m late to the party, but I would have to save my late mother’s recipes first, and then every piece of her kitchen items that I’m fortunate enough to have from cut glass serving dishes to teapots to china and silver. I might not make it out! Have as low-stress a move as you can, honey, and I look forward to hearing when you’ve arrived in California. *big squishy hugs*


Jamie March 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I, too, am a minimalist and have very few appliances in my kitchen (alas, no Kitchenaid!). But between a frying pan (maybe my mother-in-law’s very old Le Creuset skillet which she handed down to us when she married because it was too heavy for her), my beautiful knives, my potato peeler or my measuring cups. Baking pans? Hand mixer? Hard to say.


Amy March 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

Thanks to everyone for participating! This was great fun to see what everyone considers a prized kitchen possession. And since some of you couldn’t choose and cheated by taking “sets” of things, and Kevi is taking her stainless steel prep table, and Lora can’t part with her dishwasher…I decided to change my own answer. I am saving my entire pantry; a bedroom that was converted, specialized shelves and all.


Anonymous March 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Kitchen Aid. For sure


Amy March 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Deb – A team, indeed! I know a lot of people are having trouble picking just one item. I love my Le Creuset Dutch oven, too.

Kim – Well, Hello Kim! So nice to see you here. Mixing bowls are a great save. I think a good/versatile set is very hard to find.


Kim March 24, 2010 at 6:53 am

Found you over at Natashya’s site and loved this question you posed! I would probably save my mom’s old mixing bowls. I use them all the time in the kitchen and they always remind me of her.


DebinHawaii March 24, 2010 at 3:12 am

My lovely Le Creuset Dutch Oven (in lemongrass) but I would sneak my immersion blender w/ attachments inside it. ;-) We are a team and all need each other to make soup! ;-)


Amy March 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Paul – I bet you would. Wink, wink.


Paul March 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Okay. I’ll take the cook. Wrapped in bacon.


Amy March 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Bec – Hm. I wonder if this is such a popular item, not just for it’s use, but also because of the financial investment you make to have one?

Julie – Greetings Julie, so nice to see you here! A family engraved glass piece from 1966 is an absolute treasure.


Julie March 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I like this question.

I too, am a minimalist in EVERY part of my house. I can’t STAND clutter. This includes my kitchen. I have the bare necessities to make what we eat. NO bells and whistles or fancy anything. My rule is a year and it’s gone. :)

All of my dishes, utensils, containers, and pots/pans can be replaced as can most of my cookbooks. Therefore, I would have to save a serving dish that was my Mom’s. It is glass piece etched with her married initials given to her as a gift at the first wedding to my Dad–October 30, 1966.


Lora March 23, 2010 at 9:38 am

Can I save my dishwasher? I’m such a messy cook!


Rebecca March 23, 2010 at 11:35 am

I’m with the crowd saving their Kitchen Aids.


Amy March 23, 2010 at 11:30 am

Dad – LMAO. Okay, you win. Not that we are keeping score, mind you.


Mom March 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

Another LOL. Dad has the best answer.


Dad March 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

I’d take the cook.


Amy March 23, 2010 at 10:28 am

Jan – Anything from another country is always worth saving. That would be a rather expensive replacement, considering airfare prices ;-)

Lora – Ha! I love it. We actually wish we could take our current dishwasher to our new house. It’s an LG and it’s so quiet, you don’t even hear it running.

Mom – Excellent answer! That’s a collector’s item by now. The fact that it holds your magical pie recipe in it, makes it priceless.

Jude – Lol. No love/loss for you, since you’re not the one that does the cooking! No fair.

Chopper – Awesome pick. All-Clad rules.


Mike March 23, 2010 at 8:22 am

The espresso machine. Blenders come and go, pots and pans – even good ones – can be purchased anywhere, but a good espresso machine is hard to find.


Chopper March 23, 2010 at 10:12 am

Forget the wine…I’d grab my seasoned All-Clad cookware and run!


Jude March 23, 2010 at 10:07 am

My kitchen is as big as a postage stamp and the least desirable room in our house. Let it burn. But not before I grab a few bottles of wine from the rack!


Mom March 23, 2010 at 9:45 am

Actually laughed out loud reading Paul’s answer.
I have so many items in my kitchen that I would hate to part with, but decided to save something that cannot be replaced. It is my 1963 edition of “Better Homes and Gardens” cookbook that has been in my kitchen since my first year of marriage. It is still today (after all these years) a great basic reference and, of course, has my fingerprint on so many pages. Amy, it is where my apple pie comes from.


jan winning March 23, 2010 at 9:00 am

My bottle of Indian spice “garam masala” from India, my canvas pastry bag from 100 years ago with the rosette tip and the eclair tip, (you can’t find canvas pastry baga any more, ony plastic ones)

My cookbooks are in my computer room, so no problem…but let me take a minute to pimp the Louis Diat “Basic French Cookbook” prior to the Julia Child….it taught me everything I know about cooking. Some day there will be “Jan and Louis” movie.


Amy March 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

Paul - LOL. Ah, Puppy. Great one. That’s why I love you.

Mike - I don’t drink espresso or coffee, so I don’t own one of these, but I bet you are among a very large group that feels this way. Now what about a Diet Pepsi dispenser? I’d save that.


Paul March 23, 2010 at 8:11 am



Amy March 22, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Cheryl – Hard to go wrong with an 8×8 baking pan, since I’m thinking it’s used for a lot of brownie making!

Kevi – Ha! I’m granting a little leniency here, since I know it’s a tough choice for most. And…ahem…if I had a stainless steel prep table, I would save that too.

Natashya – Another vote for their Kitchenaid. This is a popular item…why do I not have one?!

Jen – I wondered what you would save…I didn’t know you used your boat motor that much. Of course, you have the “high end-one can dream about” model, so I would save that bad boy, too.

Krysta – Ya, the camera. Good one. Mine has a permanent place on the counter top, too. Sometimes Paul borrows it and I get cranky.


krysta March 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm

my le creuset and my kitchen aid stand mixer everything could burn and my camera because it’s in my kitchen enough to be considered a kitchen item!


Jennifer March 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Oy. I have to choose?! This is a really tough one because I love my Kitchenaid mixer, love my Cuisenart food processor, and love my immersion blender, (not to mention the copper core skillet Jay got me for my birthday a year ago, which, btw, would be his pick).

BUT…if I can ONLY choose ONE thing, I think it will have to be my immersion blender (or boat motor, as we call it in my house). I use it for everything, and it has made my life so much easier.


Natashya March 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I am definitely not a minimalist when it comes to kitchenwares!
My tangerine coloured KitchenAid mixer would be my favourite though. Hubby bought it for me years ago and it has been a faithful friend and work-horse. Now, can I bring the accessories? :)


kitchensink March 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I am not only a minimalist, but a stickler for rules…I think that both Melissa and Maryann should have to narrow it down to one item from their sets.

I myself would take my stainless steel prep table.


Cheryl March 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

tough question! i’d say this 8×8 yellow baking pan i have – it’s never done me wrong!


Amy March 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Natasha – Yes, yes. Love my immersion blender.

Lisa – If the Kitchenaid would beat out your grandmother’s rolling pin, then you must really love it. Popular item so far.

Melissa – I would have expected no other answer from you! I know how much you have been loving it. I love mine, too. It’s truly one of the best pieces of cookware.

Joanne – A wok! Great pick. I love mine…it has that perfect season to it you can only get from years of use. “A man with a good pan.” Lol. He’s out there.


Joanne March 22, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Wow. That would be hard. Really hard. I’m probably going to have to go with my wok. I cook almost everything in it. It is just super versatile. Pasta. Stir fries. Everything.

I am the exact same as you! I can get rid of anything as long as it isn’t food-related. Now I just need to find me a man with a good pan. And I’ll be set.


Melissa March 22, 2010 at 11:45 am

Easily, my Le Creuset French oven I just bought in February. I’d love to save my Le Creuset deep skillet/braiser while I’m at it, but given the choice, it would be the big pot.

Also, I HATE clutter too. I should send you pictures of my house from when we first moved in. It still looks the same.


Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary March 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

I think it would have to be my Kitchen-Aid mixer. I saved for awhile to buy it, and I really do use it all the time….but then again I have my great-grandma’s wooden rolling pin and I really wouldn’t want to lose that.


5 Star Foodie March 22, 2010 at 9:34 am

My immersion blender! Can’t live without it!


Amy March 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

Heather - I don’t have a Kitchenaid either, but I know my Nan left me one. I think it’s in my parent’s garage, waiting for my return.

Mellissa – Oh yes, it’s hard to beat a really good set of stainless steel cookware. You’re closing so soon! Ours is still a few weeks away, but we’re heading out early. Anyway, I feel ya.

Pam – Ha, I bet that would survive a fire. Anything from that generation always stands the test of time, even through flames.

Kristy – Homemade gifts are the best. And who can live without a salt and pepper grinder set? Good one.

Maryann – I do understand the sentimental value of “stuff” that’s handed down. I have an apron that my Nan hand made and wore forever. It’s priceless to me.

Cheryl – Thanks! Finding the right picture is always challenging, and fun. Good call on the blender…I make a ton of smoothies, too.


Cheryl March 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

Always love the pictures you choose for the let’s dish! Okay…one item…easy. My blender. I make a lot of soups, smoothies, and cocktails, so I can’t live without it.


Maryann March 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

Well I know you said just one item, but since Mellissa said she might save her cookware set, I’m going to say my grandmother’s china set. I actually don’t even like it (not my style) but it’s such a keepsake for me since I was so close with her. What can I say – I am sentimental!


the wicked noodle March 22, 2010 at 9:02 am

This one is easy for me! Hands down, I’d take the hand made wooden salt & pepper grinders my dad made for me last Christmas. They’re beyond priceless!


pam March 22, 2010 at 8:05 am

My grandmother’s cast iron skillet – of course now that I write that, I wonder, it might actually survive the fire!

Also got the movie in the mail!!! thank you so much!


Mellissa March 22, 2010 at 8:02 am

It is a tie between our stainless steel cookware set and my kitchenaid mixer. Good luck with the move! We close on our new house on Thursday so I am feeling a similar sense of chaos :)


Heather Davis March 22, 2010 at 7:15 am

I would love to say my kitchenaid. But as I don’t have one (seriously want one though!) it will have to be my hand held beaters. I’ve had them forever and no cake is complete with them. And a man who knows his cookware is definitely worth his weight in gold. I keep showing mine pics of kitchenaids and saying “pretty please” but all he sees is the price and goes “no way”!


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