Someone's comment on a friend's blog started me to thinking about the kitchen equipment I would recommend to novice cooks. Sure, I have a potato masher, a Bundt cake pan and an oyster knife--but what do I use every day, or every week? Here's my list. Note that it's better to buy one or two nice pieces at a time and build up your cooking arsenal gradually, instead of getting a 187-piece set that's either crap or freakishly expensive. And for Pete's sake check out Ebay or the local restaurant supply warehouse. You don't need a designer chef's knife for crying out loud.Forschner (Victorinox) chef's knives
: You gotta have a good knife. A crappy knife is worse than no knife at all. Forschner is one of the two Swiss companies that makes Swiss Army knives. This feels good in your hand and you can get one for under $25. And you can stick it in the dishwasher. If you can get only one thing from this list, it would be this.
If you get a decent knife or knife set, it's also a good idea to have a sharpening steel to straighten out the blade before each use. I've got a diamond-coated one
that sharpens AND straightens the blade. (Thanks, FIL!)Heavy-ass Dutch Oven
: And I do mean heavy
, for even cooking and temperature retention. Enameled or cast-iron--I have both. You can use a Dutch oven for soups and stews, pot roasts, even breads. The Lodge company
has info on caring for cast-ron cookware. No brillo padz, plz!!2-qt saucepan w/ tight-fitting lid
: if you like to make rice. Like all pots and pans, it should be heavy, esp. on the bottom, and not feel light or flimsy.Plastic cutting boards
: Get them at Target, at restaurant supply houses (super cheap), IKEA... I have several. Some people have color coded ones-one for meats, one for veggies, etc.Non-stick skillet
: If you like omelets. NOTE: Don't turn the heat up past med-high, otherwise you'll ruin the coating. Don't get a thin, cheap one. It should be heavy. I have one for omelets and another with a lid for other, non-omelet stuff.Silicone spatula
: Sick of accidentally melting plastic or nylon spatulas? Silicone ones are non-stick and heat resistant to 500 deg. F. Get 'em about anywhere.
- A ton of cheap kitchen towels and dishcloths. You can find them at IKEA or Tuesday Morning or wherever. I get white or unbleached ones so I can use hot water w/o worrying about fading.
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Pyrex casserole dishes for heating stuff up in the microwave, or storing the stew you made in your Dutch oven.