In My Kitchen: The Essentials

Over the years, I’ve come to rely on a few key tools in my kitchen. These are legit—the classic items I turn to again and again. I love combining the use of modern mixed in with vintage family pieces like my Memaw’s rolling pin or biscuit cutter. There’s a certain nostalgia when using something decades old but that still fully-maintains its function…I can just imagine how many meals it created. Embrace the old with the new—here are my top 7 essentials.

1. KitchenAid Stand Mixer

This is really the workhorse of my kitchen. I use it for nearly everything I bake. It whips up cream, cake batter, cookie dough, and frosting like no other. White is my color of choice that goes with everything.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer, $349.99

2. Williams Sonoma Melanine Mixing Bowls

You can honestly never have too many mixing bowls. And I love these melanine ones because they’re durable and light.

Williams Sonoma Melanine Mixing Bowls, $29.95

3. Pampered Chef Classic Scraper

Seriously, this is a can’t-live-without item. Remember back in the day going to a Pampered Chef party at a friend’s house? You may think they’re out of style, but they’re still around and are the most durable products I’ve ever owned. This scraper doesn’t stain and can withstand super high temperatures.

Pampered Chef Classic Scraper, $12.50

4. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Not all vanilla extracts are created equal. Neilsen-Massey is what sets the bar. This rich vanilla extract really makes a difference. It’s definitely pricier than imitation, but worth every penny.

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, $18.95

5. Crate & Barrel Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

Simple, no-fuss measuring cups that are super durable. Enough said.

Crate & Barrel Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, $19.95

6. Microplane Rasp Grater

I’ve literally had this grater for at least 8 years and it’s still sharp as can be. It’s equally wonderful for zesting citrus and grating parmesan cheese.

Microplane Rasp Grater, $14.95

7. Stainless Steel Pastry Blender

This is a must-have tool for making pie crust by hand or my signature scones. Stainless steel is the way to go—it keeps the butter cold for flakier pastries.

Stainless Steel Pastry Blender, $10.95

If you have any questions or want more recommendations feel free to contact me!

Family Favorite Recipe: Sock-It-To-Me Cake

My love for baking started very young. Before I could even talk, I was in a high-chair at the kitchen counter while my Memaw made her southern family specialties—banana pudding, pineapple upside-down cake, snickerdoodles, and, one of my personal favorites, this Sock-It-To-Me Cake. It’s basically a pecan coffee cake loaded with butter flavor. And best of all, it uses a boxed cake mix which makes it incredibly easy.

I’m so happy to still have all my Memaw’s handwritten recipes cards. I often sort through them and think about all the wonderful memories I have of her cooking. Many of them are still covered in spills from active kitchen duty. I love to incorporate her old kitchen tools like this vintage bundt pan, metal clip, and cake server into my own baking. Memaw was also very talented at crocheting and I used one of her doilies for displaying the finished cake.

The best memories of my life are of Memaw and I in the kitchen. I can feel the tradition and history in every bite.

Sock-It-To-Me Cake


1 box Duncan Hines Butter Cake Mix

1/2 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp butter flavoring

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix the cake mix, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, sour cream, vegetable oil, and butter flavoring in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour half the batter into the prepared bundt pan. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and 2 Tbsp sugar. Sprinkle on top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter in the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until cake it set. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan about 10 minutes then carefully flip over cake onto a wire rack to cool.

Photography by Erika Mattingly Photography