Mar 10 2008

Essential equipment.

Published by at 3:26 pm under Equipment

Everyone knows that pots and pans are necessary if you’re going to do any cooking outside of the microwave or toaster oven, but what else should a kitchen have to make cooking easier and less of a chore?

Here are the things I need to run my kitchen the way I want: with a minimum of fuss.

Silicone cutting boards: I used to use a wooden chopping block. It couldn’t go in the dishwasher and was a haven for germs. Then it broke when I dropped it on the floor. My mother told me to buy these, and she was so right. They are inexpensive, durable, and can go in the dishwasher. Four for $10 US at Amazon.

Wüsthof Come Apart kitchen shears: I use them to trim meat, “chop” herbs (much easier than using a knife), open packages, and subdue unwary intruders. The blades come apart for washing so nasty bacteria can’t hide up in the joint. And there’s a built-in jar opener. $19.95 US at Amazon.

KitchenAid stand mixer: Do not mess with the KitchenAid stand mixer. It’s pricey, but if you bake with any regularity, it’s a great help. There are a ton of attachments you can buy, from a juicer to a grain mill or a sausage linker, but so far I’ve stuck with my whisk, paddle, and bread hook. The prices vary depending on what model and capacity you’re looking for, but it’s worth it to save and get one. Amazon sells some refurbished models if you’re looking for a deal.

Good knives: I have a Wüsthof paring knife that is great to work with. It beats my other paring knives all to pieces and calls them sissies. It’s so much easier doing prep if you have knives that work with you, not against you. At the very least, invest in a good quality 8 – 10″ chef’s knife. You can use it for all kinds of things. Wüsthof makes good knives, but they’re expensive. If you’re looking for something more affordable, check out OXO or KitchenAid.

Slow cooker: If you really hate to cook, or are no good at traditional cooking, get a slow cooker. You can buy a decent one for $20.00 US. Add your ingredients in the morning, turn it on, come back 8-10 hours later and eat. There are many recipes on the internet for slow cookers, and many books you can buy dedicated just to making meals using this appliance. It’s great for cooking tough (cheap) cuts of meat and turning them into a moist, juicy entree. I own a 5 quart Crock Pot with a removable, dishwasher-safe stoneware inside, which makes it easy for washing up. Pick up some slow-cooker liners at the grocery store and clean up is even easier – just pull out the bag and toss it.

And, of course, no kitchen is complete without a cat (or animal of your choice) who can sneak up while you’re at the stove, park directly behind your foot, and then yowl when you step on her tail as you’re taking a boiling pot of spaghetti to the sink for draining. Fate serves this function in our house. She is very interested in everything that goes on in the kitchen.

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