Sunday, January 10, 2010

Part 1, Lesson 3: Kitchen Tools

Part 1: "I Don't Know How To Cook"
Lesson 3: Kitchen Tools

We've used a few convenience foods so far in the last two weeks and now it's time to crack down.  Let's also talk about leftovers and what to put them in.  But first, what kind of equipment do you need to put everything together?

Let's look at your objects
If you're like me, you're still using stuff your parents gave you when you left home.  Which is fine.  Like I said, I'm doing it too.  Over time I've learned that the motley assortment of kitchenware I had been hauling from apartment to apartment and finally to my house could be whittled down quite a bit, and that some things that seemed to hold a strange nostalgia for me just plain needed to be replaced.  I still have my mom's electric wok from the 70s? 80s? that has most of the Teflon coating missing from the bottom and I'm pretty sure if I ever use it again it will give my family cancer.  But it's still in the back of the cabinet.  Its working replacement is a real steel Chinese wok.

We've already covered knives.  Bare minimum you'll need that chef's knife (or santoku if that's how you roll), a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife.  Anything beyond that is pure personal preference.

You'll want a large (10" or 12") frying/saute pan/skillet.  If you're just going to own one single pan of this type I would say go with a hard anodized version.  These pans can stand up to some abuse and occasional metal implement useage.  Stainless steel is an option, but it's hell to try and cook sticky things like eggs in without a near-spiritual level of experience with your particular pan.  It's best to have one that can go in the oven, so avoid plastic handles if you can.  You truly get what you pay for in the cookware department so spend a little money here if you can.  If you can't afford it, that's fine too.  You'll just need to pay very close attention to your stove temperature and perhaps use a slightly lower temperature than what most recipes call for.

It's a really good idea to have a cast iron skillet in your arsenal.  Lodge makes a fantastic product.  It's pre-seasoned and very reasonably priced.  I actually use my Lodge pan more often than my fancy-pants Le Creuset.  Cast iron is one of the best non-stick surfaces around and holds heat like a dream.  Eggs and pancakes slide right out.  You can go straight from stove top to oven. 

You'll need a large pot with lid to cook pasta and large batches of soup.

A smaller pot (2 to 3 quart) is great too.  A lid is essential.

Now to the hand implements.  If you don't already have a silicone rubber spatula, get one immediately.  You can use this to saute, scramble eggs, stir soup, lift and serve casseroles, stir-fry, and just about everything else.  Look for a sturdy one-piece model if you can find one.

A flat spatula/turner, slotted spoon, long handled wooden spoon, tongs, metal balloon whisk, box grater, and vegetable peeler are also essential.

You'll need measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a liquid measuring cup.

Finally, a colander or strainer.

These are the bare minimums that any kitchen should have to be fully functional.  Did I forget anything here?  Do you have any favorite kitchen items that you absolutely can't live without?  Leave a comment!

The Takeaway:
You don't need to own every kitchen gadget and utensil you see at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.   You can cook just about anything with a bare minimum of essentials.

Your Homework:
Go through your worst kitchen drawer or cabinet.  You know, the one that you can barely close because of all the crap you have stuffed in there.  Is anything broken, rusted, or hasn't been used in years?  Get rid of it.  In your RFBC journal make note of anything that needs to be replaced or acquired.

Here is Master File 3 with shopping list, menu plan, and recipes.

1 comment:

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