How many of you have walked through a department store and browsed the housewares section? There are many tools to use when cooking. If you watch a cooking show, every host has a particular tool or pan that is a must have and then try to pass that item off to you. I’m guilty of purchasing things I have used once or never used at all. Here is what I learned over the years. Expensive cookware is pretty to look at on a shelf. Nice, shiny stainless steel, hard-anodized, non-stick… the choices are endless. Well, so are the prices.
When I first started cooking, I used cookware bought from a department store. It came in a box and consisted of one frying pan, a pot, saute pan and maybe a lid or two. As my horizons rose, I purchased my first set of expensive cookware. My struggling purse felt the purchase of that set of Calphalon cookware for months. I have to say it was worth it. In my haste though, I would not allow anyone to use it but me. I took great care of cookware and still have it years later. Why am I mentioning expensive cookware?
If you are going to purchase a set of cookware, spend wisely. Make sure it will fit your everyday needs and not only used for special occasions. Choose pans that will fit on the stove for even cooking. Sometimes apartment-size stoves will not hold commercial cookware. One apartment I lived in had a stove so small that my fourteen-inch skillet would not fit on any of the eyes. Also, make sure the pans hold up to temperatures required for high heat or prolonged baking periods. From the stovetop to the oven is a time saver.
My must have in my kitchen is sharp chef’s knives, a knife sharpener, several cutting boards. I use different cutting boards for meat, vegetables, and herbs. Garlic and onions will permeate wood. So unless you mark the cutting board on each side, be aware of it. None of these items have to break the bank, but let them be sturdy and hold up to constant washing. I personally like the wood cutting boards with the wells that catch liquid. Also, I like the antibacterial cutting boards for meat. These boards can be flipped and are good for aromatics. The odor doesn’t seem to stick around and are dishwasher safe. Never put knives in the dishwasher. Clean after each use and place in a knife block for protecting the blades. This is not a lesson on how to, but just general information. I’m assuming if anyone is reading this, they already know how to boil water, cook an egg and use a knife without losing fingers.
Other essentials I have in the kitchen are a mixer, measuring cups and spoons, tongs, wooden and heatproof spatulas…. yadda, yadda, yadda. You get the point. I’ll post a picture of my favorites items for everyday cooking.
On the baker’s rack are items I use every day. I like to hang my pots and cast iron. It is easier for me to grab stuff as I work. If I need a trivet, cutting board, knife, or any baking ware, I don’t have to shuffle under the cabinets for one. I don’t use the canisters except to store spices that are in bags. I also store dry rice in them. The containers are airtight, and nothing can get inside. It saves room in the cabinets by not having those bulk items taking up space. I keep my spices on a rack too. I don’t know who designed my kitchen, but they had to be people over six-feet tall. The cabinets over the fridge are useless to me. I have two racks of spices I use every day. It saves time from digging through the tall cabinets for stuff I need. I could use a step stool, but at my age, I’m not liking the idea of replacing a hip to go along with my bionic knee.
So, that’s about it for this blog post on essential items. Next week, I will talk about chicken wings. I love them, and my kids love to eat them. I will give my recipe and tips on what I do when I oven fry or deep fry them. Either way, they are good! Have a good night.