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Top ten cookware essentials. February 7, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. If you could name just ten kitchen tools that you use constantly and that make your life easier, what would they be? Here are my ten:

* A gas stove. Gas has it all over electric when it comes to temperature control. Not only can you adjust the burners to the precise heat you need for each dish, but once you turn the burner off, it’s off (cool): no long cooling-down period as with electric. It’s got to be gas!

* LeCreuset pots and pans. Heavy, enamel-coated cast-iron pots and pans are a lifesaver in my kitchen. They have all the heat-retention of cast-iron without the bother of seasoning, rusting, off-flavors, and so on. They also are very easy to clean. I love my LeCreuset Dutch ovens and large, heavy frying pans. But they’re not the only options: I found a wonderful Mario Batali enamel-coated cast-iron saute/saucepan at a thrift store for pennies on the dollar of my LeCreuset pots and pans. (I’ve also bought LeCreuset pans and lids on eBay and saved big bucks.)

* A rice cooker. Perfect white rice, brown rice, lentils and rice, anything and rice, any kind of rice, every time: amazing. As someone who could never manage stovetop rice, the rice cooker has been a real godsend to me. We love rice and eat it often. And the rice cooker is fine with plain rice or rice doctored with everything from hemp and chia seeds to sauteed onions and mushrooms. Best of all, no worry about standing over the stove ’til it’s done. And its $19 price can’t be beat.

* Little Vicky. My Victorinox paring knife (fondly referred to by fans as “Little Vicky”) stays sharp and cuts beautifully. And it costs a fraction of what high-end knives like my Wusthof Trident paring knife go for. The Victorinox has serrations, unlike the Trident, and I find them helpful for holding slippery veggies in place while I’m trying to cut them.

* A real potato masher. I inherited mine from my mother, who may have inherited it from hers. It’s a heavy stainless-steel circle (of course, on a heavy handle) with square openings all over it. This design makes it not only incredibly easy to mash potatoes (or any other vegetable), but also to mash beans for refried beans or black bean soup. It serves as the perfect low-tech substitute for a blender or food processor when you need to thicken anything from a dip to a soup.

* An air-popper. Here’s another $19 item that will make life simpler if you happen to love popcorn. The air-popper spews out a bowlful of hot, fresh-popped popcorn, which you can choose to top with melted butter, shredded cheese, or whatever you like. No gross, stinky, carcinogenic microwave popcorn, no oil-coated popcorn and long, greasy cleanup. Once the air-popper is cool, just wipe it out with a paper towel and store until you need it.

* Pyrex dishes with lids. Forget storing leftovers in carcinogenic plastic containers, or storing takeout in the original containers. Buy an assortment of Pyrex glass containers with tight-fitting lids. They’ll go from fridge to oven (minus the lids), they keep food fresh, and they’re easy to clean. Avaialble in groceries everywhere.

* Corningware. I’d be lost without my Corningware, from individual heating dishes to casserole-size dishes with glass lids. I’ve bought all of it from thrift stores, except for the individual baking dishes, a hand-down from a friend, and I use them every day. I love the individual dishes because you can serve up a portion of leftovers and heat it up, just the right size for one serving.

* Bamboo spoons. I’ve dutifully used wooden spoons all my life, but they tend to fray and shred, even crack, over time. In my experience, bamboo spoons offer all the benefits of wood without the fraying and cracking.

* A good cutting board. Mine’s handmade maple, a gift from a friend. I use it every day, as I do so many items on this list. If I didn’t have this cutting board, I’d probably be looking into one made of bamboo.

Bonus:

* A hand-mixer. I have an old Sunbeam hand-mixer that I use whenever cream or eggwhites need to be whipped or butter and sugar beaten for a batter. It does the job perfectly and is easy to store afterwards, unlike a stand mixer.

There are so many other essentials that it’s hard to know when to stop. I couldn’t function without my set of stainless mixing bowls, which I use for everything from beating eggs for an omelette to serving as a salad bowl. What makes your top ten?

‘Til next time,

Silence

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