Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and stuff in my kitchen
Shiny steel All-Clad pans, sharp Wusthof knives
These are the things which make cooking so nice.
When I’m chopping…
And I’m browning meat,
I simply make use of my favorite things…
And then we sit down to eat!
I have been collecting kitchen gear for as long as I can remember. I’d already begun a decent collection before I left for college. For years afterward, my birthday wishlist involved pots and pans. I got a knife one year for Mother’s Day. I asked Santa for a stainless steel colander. My collection has been built slowly over time. I’ve spent months collecting gift certificates at holidays and saving up for a prized item. I love diamonds and pearls as much as the next girl, but as far as shiny things go, I’d rather have a good knife or a pan. There are always more items on my wishlist, but at this point, I’ve got a pretty functional cooking collection. I love it all, but there are certainly some items which get more regular use; the items I couldn’t cook without. If you’re looking to build your cooking equipment collection, perhaps you’ll find some useful tips here.
These are a few of my favorite things…
A couple good knives will change your culinary world. Sharp, high quality knives are safer to use than any dull knife. Most of my knives are Wusthof or Henkels, because I like the way they feel, but Shun and Global make excellent knives too. It’s a personal preference thing. You have to get your hands on the knives and see what feels good to you. Look for forged knives (not stamped) made of high-carbon stainless steel, with a full tang (that piece of metal that runs from the blade all the way through the handle. I like a knife with a good amount of heft. Of all the knives in my knife block, my Santoku knives (Japanese chef’s knives) and my long, serrated bread knife get the most use. If I could only have two knives, those would definitely be my keepers.
Pots and Pans
Oh, my darling pots and pans! Don’t ask me about my pots and pans, unless you have a lot of time on your hands. I could talk for hours about them. All-Clad should pay me for the time I’ve put into raving about their cookware. My pots and pans are the prized gems of my collection. I’m an All-Clad girl through and through; copper-core, given my druthers. I’d rather save my money for one good All-Clad pot than fill up my cupboard with a collection of something else. In my opinion, this cookware is as good as it gets. Truth be told, these pots and pans are not cheap. But, they will last you forever. You’ll pass these pots and pans onto your grandchildren. Seriously. Don’t worry about trying to buy a whole collection at once. You’re better off buying a pot or pan at a time based on your needs. Whatever you choose, look for cookware that’s sturdy with solid construction. Avoid pots and pans with a disk base, which will be more likely to warp if overheated. I’ve had that happen more than once in my pre-All-Clad days. I’d recommend that most of your pots and pans are a high quality stainless steel, which is most durable and won’t interact with foods. Look for cookware that is oven safe, since it’s a really convenient thing to be able to move a pan from stove top to the oven. I’m leery of non-stick surfaces due to health concerns, though I do keep at least one non-stick pan on hand for omelets. My favorite cookware, the All-Clad Copper-Core line, features a five layer construction with the durability of stainless steel on the interior and exterior sandwiching layers of highly conductive, even-heating aluminum and copper. It’s also handy to have a good cast-iron skillet, grill pan, and dutch oven on hand. Le Creuset makes excellent and beautiful enameled cast-iron cookware.
Instant-read Meat Thermometer
This is one of those items that I think belongs in every kitchen. I use mine almost every night. It takes the guesswork out of determining if your meat is cooked, helping to ensure that things are cooked safely, without overcooking. To use an instant-read meat thermometer, first remove the meat from the heat. If you’re measuring something large, like a roast, remove the pan from the oven. If you’re measuring something smaller, like a chicken breast, lift it slightly from the pan with a spatula or tongs, before inserting the thermometer. You want to be sure you’re measuring the temperature of the meat, not the heat in the pan, oven, or grill. Insert the thermometer into the center of the meat. Make sure that it doesn’t poke out the other side or make contact with the hot pan. Read the temperature, then remove the thermometer and continue cooking, if necessary.
Assortment of Bowls
Sort of an obvious one, but I love my bowls! I’m partial to the bright ceramic ones, but the stainless steel bowls are definitely most versatile. I especially LOVE my huge stainless bowl, which is invaluable when I’m making big batches of salads for parties or mixing up cookie dough.
Colanders and Strainers
I love pretty enameled colanders, though admittedly the stainless steel ones are more durable. There’s really no reason for anyone to have as many colanders as I do, but I love them. The conical shaped strainer is called a chinois (pronounced shin-WAH). It’s a very fine mesh strainer, great for straining sauces or stocks.
Nothing too exciting about these. Just a couple of sturdy aluminum baking sheets, which get a tremendous amount of use.
Salt and Pepper
So, maybe salt and pepper doesn’t seem to go along with the other items on this list, but somehow they belong here. I keep my little canister of kosher salt sitting next to the stove. It gets used in almost every single thing I cook or bake. Salt is a flavor magnifier. A touch of salt can make a dramatic difference in the flavor of a dish; turning something bland into something spectacular. Don’t neglect your salt. Keep it handy and use it often.
I hardly use my small kitchen appliances; partly because they’re out of the way and I don’t have a more convenient place to store them and partly because I like be hands-on when I cook. I honestly love chopping, slicing, kneading and whisking until my arms are sore. I have just about every small kitchen appliance in the book; large and small food processors, hand-mixers, stand mixers, ice cream makers, coffee grinders, espresso machines, and blenders. But they are all lonely and neglected. Out of all of the small appliances I own, the one that gets the most use is my immersion blender. It’s a relatively inexpensive addition to any cooking collection. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and it’s easy to clean. I use mine for smoothies, blended soups, pureeing vegetables and fruits, making sauces, and lots of other things.
Good cookware doesn’t make the cook, but it sure helps!
I love talking about cooking equipment, so if you ever have a question, just ask!