Shamelessly (Less) Fussy Fall Picks – A Curated List by The Ardent Cook

If there’s anything I’m passionate about, it’s home and kitchen knick knacks. More specifically, I love creating a mood or feeling when serving food to people, and one of the ways I do that is by using different serving platters, utensils, linens, etc. for different seasons. Now let’s be clear: I don’t like clutter, but a little fuss every once in a while never hurt your soul. So some of these items are “less fussy.” For example, do you really need to eat your soup out of vintage-inspired handled soup crocks? No. But did I include them because they add a little charm? Yes. Less fussy. Not unfussy.

All of the items featured in this post are ones I use myself and they all have a purpose. To break it down, I’ve created a few categories that will help you find what you’re looking for. The categories are as follows:

  1. Most Used Kitchen Tools for Fall Cooking
  2. Favorite Fall Tabletop Pieces
  3. Less Fussy Fall Kitchen and Living Decor
  4. Bonus: Things I’m Eyeing Right Now

Let’s get right to it! I will begin with a disclaimer that there are affiliate links in this post. While I absolutely love sharing insight into my kitchen with all of you, it takes a lot of time and thought to maintain this blog and Instagram, and one of the ways I can monetize my efforts is by sharing affiliate links. The kick-backs from these links are small, and I would never recommend a product that I do not use and love myself. Your support of The Ardent Cook is so meaningful to me, and I am thankful for such a wonderful audience!

  1. Most Used Kitchen Tools for Fall Cooking

When I think fall cooking, I think soups, stews, mashes, casseroles, and everything comforting. Not to mention pies, because, well, Thanksgiving. This category encompasses all of the kitchen tools and gadgets that I reach for more frequently during the fall months. I hope you can find something useful!

Le Creuset Stoneware Pie Dish – 9′ Cerise

This pie dish was a gift from my Dad. I love the lively red color, and the glazed stoneware is a phenomenal heat conductor (leaving you with incredibly crispy crust). I’ve never had an issue with pie crusts sticking when using this pie dish.

Pyrex Casserole Dishes – 2 Piece Value Set

While I love a fancy casserole dish from time to time, nothing beats a classic. Pyrex is durable, easy-to-clean, and gets the job done without any fuss. I love the larger size for meal-prep casseroles, and it’s also the vessel I use to bake my Thanksgiving stuffing. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd. I definitely recommend having both sizes at your disposal, though, because the smaller one fits a one-pound batch of homemade macaroni and cheese pretty perfectly (if you were wondering).

Old Fashioned Potato Masher – Manual Masher

Here’s the deal. I will never, ever recommend mashing potatoes with anything but this masher. Don’t use your hand mixer. Don’t use a food processor. Use this old-fashioned masher. I have a vintage one that was made by US Steel decades ago, and it’s one of the best tools I own. It’s also great for mashing avocado while making guac. Since I can’t link my vintage one, I’ve found the closest thing. It’s also made of stainless steel and the handle construction is almost identical to mine. Do yourself a favor and invest the $8 in this bad boyyou’ll never end up with gummy mashed potatoes ever again.

Le Creuset Oval Dutch Oven – 6.75 Quart in Indigo

Oh man. I could go on forever about how much I love this thing. It’s my most-used kitchen item by-far, second only to my knives. It’s truly amazing. I have the Indigo color, but if I could go back and choose a new one it might be the creamy white “Meringue”. I love them all!

DeLonghi Espresso Machine – 15-Bar-Pump Espresso Maker in Stainless

I know this is on the pricier side, but this is the espresso machine that has powered me through countless work days, family gatherings, holidays, and more for the last two years. It’s wonderful and still works good-as-new since I’ve been pretty religious about cleaning and de-scaling it. It’s not the fanciest one on the market, but it really packs a punch and gives you a delicious espresso. I’d highly recommend it for everything from your daily morning coffee to a Thanksgiving afternoon pick-me-up.

Whisk – Copper with Wood Handle

For some reason, I find myself reaching for my whisk more and more throughout the fall season. Maybe it’s because I make more whipped cream this time of year? Or the fact that I’m always baking? At any rate, I love the look and feel of this wood-handled whisk. I have the two-pack and use the large one for mixing up double batches of baked goods, while the small one is perfect for things like scrambled eggs.

Sur La Table Wooden Spoon – Beechwood Spoon

This wooden spoon is the perfect length and shape for everything from mixing bread to stirring soup. It’s a must-have in my opinion. Affordable for the quality, too!

Citrus Juicer – Force Juicer

This citrus juicer changed my life. Perfect for cocktail making or squeezing fresh citrus onto whatever you’re whipping up for dinner. It’s effortless.

Ladle – Stainless Steel Soup Ladle

This should be obvious, but if you’re a soup fanatic like I am, then you need a soup ladle. This stainless steel one has lasted me years thus far, and I don’t see it quitting any time soon.

Silicone Lids – Five Two Airtight Silicon Lids

When I bought these last year, I was very skeptical of how they’d stand up against plastic wrap. Boy was I shocked. These are incredible. You can use them on the stove for that rogue pan that doesn’t have a matching lid, to cover something in the microwave, or in place of plastic wrap for storing food in the fridge. The best part? They are oven- and dishwasher-safe, sustainable, and come in cute colors. PERFECT for Thanksgiving leftovers.

2. Favorite Fall Tabletop Pieces

Fall marks the time of the year where we start really leaning into hosting. With COVID, who knows how everything will shake out. Whether you have two people or 20 people at your tables this autumn, why not spruce it up with one of these pieces?

Vintage Metal Tart Molds – Egg Tart Molds

I have a set of vintage tin tart/muffin molds that were handed down to me by my Mom. They are so stinkin’ cute. I love using them for baking muffins (rather than using paper muffin liners), and then leaving them in the molds when I set them out on a platter. The metal contrasts so well with the soft texture of the muffins and the white platter below. I’ve also used them to hold nuts, crackers, and other snacks on a cheese board. Since I can’t give you my vintage ones, I found these look-alikes that are just as adorable.

Flour Sack Towels – Solid White 4-Pack

I love a clean dish-towel in place of napkins. Flour sack towels have such a rustic feel to them and they’re incredibly durable. I’ve washed mine again and again. I love to style these by wrapping them up in a piece of brown kitchen twine and tucking in fresh herbs, like rosemary or sage, or a small bunch of twigs and leaves to bring feelings of fall foliage to the table.

Soup Crocks – Vintage Brown Drip Soup Bowls

This is not an affiliate link, rather a link to a private vintage Etsy shop. When I make soup, I absolutely love serving it in my vintage McCoy French Onion Soup Crocks. They are extremely hard to find and are a family heirloom. Eating soup out of a handled crock gives a feeling of nostalgia that is hard to compare to anything else. I’ve found a very similar set to the ones I have, linked above. If you’re looking for other options, you can also try these from World Market (a bit more neutral) or visit your local pottery shop and find a set unique to your taste.

Shallow Entreé Bowls – Melamine and Bamboo Dinner Bowl

I love utilizing a dinner bowl, rather than a plate, during the fall and winter. This time of year, we’re typically serving foods like soup, stew, or gravy-laden roasts. I much prefer a bowl in this situation to make sure I can mop up every last drip with a hunk of crusty bread. It’s just efficient, okay? I recently scooped up these shallow bamboo bowls from Target and I’m obsessed with the quality. They look like a piece of stoneware, but they’re light and easy to clean. I have the terra cotta and the blue, but boy is this grey color beautiful as well!

Cake Stand – Stoneware Tall Cake Stand

Thanksgiving time inevitably means more desserts on display, be it pies, cakes, cookie bars, candy, etc. I love showing off my baking efforts by placing dessert at the center of the table raised up on a cake platter. This stoneware one from the Heart and Hand collection is beautiful and neutral enough to be used all year round.

3. Less Fussy Fall Kitchen and Living Decor

I’m all about a Fall display. Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I’ve been known to leave those decorations up from mid-September all the way until I get my Christmas tree. But, I understand not everyone is like that, so I’ve added a healthy mix of Halloween and Fall decor in this section.

Halloween Raven Figurine – Black Raven on Skull

I love this spooky raven as part of my Halloween mantle.

Yoga Skeleton – Meditating Yoga Skeleton

This little dude is so cute, fits perfectly on a styled bookcase, and really just makes me happy. Why wouldn’t you want a yoga skeleton in your house?

Black Candles – Hand-Poured Taper Candles

Nothing screams ‘fear’ to me like black candles dripping down after being lit for a few hours. I’ve incorporated these into my Halloween mantle and think you should too! I love that they are hand-poured so each one is a little unique in shape.

Scented Candles – Cider and Clove

This candle is everything if you love hot apple cider like I do. I found it at World Market and it’s my latest everyday burn. It is on the sweeter side for candle scents, just as a head’s up.

White Pumpkins – Farmer’s Market

No link here! Head to your local farmers market and grab yourself some white fairytale pumpkins. They’re adorable, affordable, and I love the neutral color and charm they add to my fall decor. I’m not one for orange pumpkins really.

Twinkle Lights – LED Fairy String Lights

I love layering LED twinkle lights in my decor all year round, not just for fall. They look so cute wrapped around a house plant, stuffed in the nooks of a book shelf, or anywhere else your heart desires some ambiance. I love the warm white glow of this particular brand, but any twinkle lights will do!

Dried Flowers and Stems – Eucalyptus Bundles

Dried flowers are always in season, in my opinion. However, I especially love them in the fall. I typically wait to put these up until after my Halloween decor comes down, but don’t let me tell you how to time manage your fall decor. You got this.

Throw Blanket – Chunky Knit Throw in Bronze

One of the easiest ways to change your decor seasonally is by swapping out throw blankets and pillows. I love the look and feel of this one from Target. The warm brown screams autumn to me, and it’s super cozy.

4. BONUS: Things I’m Eyeing Right Now

Black Lab Ceramics – Raku Pottery Bottle with Copper Glaze

Black Lab Ceramics is a local-to-me pottery shop. This is not an affiliate link, rather a link directly to Black Lab’s Etsy shop. I absolutely love this little bottle vase, which I picture filled with a few dried flower stems as part of your fall tablescape. Each item is unique, and no one is the same. I’m holding out hope that some new mugs are released soon, because they are just the cutest! You can find Black Lab on Instagram @black.lab.ceramics

Paper Floral Co – Crepe Paper Dahlia Stem

While we’re on the topic of local artisans, I recently discovered Paper Floral Co, a local-to-me business. This is also not an affiliate link, simply a link directly to Kelly Grace’s website. These paper floral stems are utterly gorgeous and realistic-looking. I might just need this dahlia to go in that Black Lab Ceramics bottle vase… You can find Paper Floral Co on Instagram @paperfloral.co

The USB Lighter Company – USB Rechargeable Lighter (Food52)

I light so. many. candles. this time of year. I go through lighters and matches like crazy! Considering this rechargeable USB lighter to make my life easier and never be stuck without a match ever again.

Five Two Ultimate Apron – Rhubarb

I’m in need of an apron that doesn’t make me look disshelved. I love this rhubarb pink color. Adding this to my holiday wish list for sure! Food52 is known for their Five Two line as being durable and high-quality, so I have no doubt this apron fits that description.

New Kitchen Towels – Dobby Weave Tea Towel

I’ll admit, these towels are pricey. But they’re just so beautiful. The weave makes them look like they’re a powerhouse for drying dishes and absorbing kitchen spills. I’m torn between that mustard color or the olive. Decisions, decisions.

Leanne Ford x Crate and Barrel – Stevey Black Pitcher

If I’m being honest, I want Leanne’s entire collection for Crate and Barrel. But, my favorite piece by far is this pitcher. Swooning.

Lékué Cactus Popsicle Molds – Set of 4 (Clearance)

Okay, so these aren’t fall at all. But I love a good fall sale, and I’ve been eyeing these for months. Cactus popsicles!!! They’re ridiculously cute and you can save them for next summer! I don’t discriminate against popsicles just because it’s cold out, though, so I’ll probably use them ASAP.

Photographs used in this article were taken by Adam Barabas, with the exception of three (grey sweater and jeans), which were taken by Cayce Kolodney.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

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