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Kitchen Must Haves. Tool Edition!

So I’m kind of a minimalistic, utilitarian when it comes to kitchen. My roommate happens to own most of the tools in my apartment’s kitchen. So here is what I have think are required tools!

  • A good quality chef’s knife. A knife that feels nice in your hand, these are a MUST have, they can do just about anything, and don’t get the serrated kind. Get one that can get sharpened! I have a 10 inch  chef’s knife, get one you can comfortably use. A santoku knife is fine too, as long as it is greater than 8 inches. I like the entire knife being stainless steel, alas those are too expensive this college student.
    ~ I have two, a 10 inch chef’s knife, and a 5 inch santoku knife (for herbs and mincing)

  • A serrated knife, like those chef knives. These work great for soft skinny vegetables or fruits, like tomatoes, which mush if cut with a less-than-sharp straight blade knife. These can be super cheap knives, since you can’t resharpen them.
    ~ I have two ,which I got in a set (one is 8 & 4 inches), it was for my dorm room.

  • A paring knife, for delicate cutting/slicing, and skinning when needed.
  • A frying pan, I love my roommate’s large stainless steel pan. This is useful for just about everything, cheap nonstick ones are nice, but I like the heavy quality of a stainless steel pan.
  • A cast iron skillet, these are amazing! Awesome for just about everything, I’ll take seasoned skillet over a nonstick pan any day. Also they double as an anti-intruder weapon, these suckers get heavy!
    ~  I’m hopefully getting one for Christmas, but I would buy a nice heavy one from a grage sale or flea market, instead of buying one in a store.

  • A wok, specifically a cast iron, or carbon steel wok, these are so useful, not only for stir-frys, but curries, soups, frying an entire walleye. Once properly seasoned you can make just about anything with these.
    ~ I have two woks both carbon steel, a traditional round bottom wok for a gas stove, and a flat bottom wok my apartment’s electric range. My round bottom wok is hand hammered, and my flat is machine made. Buy them from the Wok store on Amazon ($30.00 for a wok, great deal!) ! I love this place.

  • Cutting boards, at least two. Get a heavy butcher block (bamboo or oak), and a lighter wooden one.  This way you can at least separate your raw meat from vegetables. Wooden ones are supposed to be cleaner due to the properties of wood, and you don’t risk shavings of plastic in your food.
    ~ I have a nice heavy bamboo, double sided one. As well cheapo plastic one I use for quick stuff (free, I’m a poor college student remember).

  • Tongs, heat-proof Spatula, ladle, wooden spoon, metal spatula/spoon (for wok), a few measuring devices (more if you bake). Kind of the random simple things you need to use pots/pans.
  • Blender, or Bullet/Bella, these are useful for everything especially soups & sauces (and smoothies)!
    ~ I have a Bella, roommate has a Blender, I find the Bella quicker and easier to clean, if not you have to be a little more careful to use.

So thats what I think a kitchen requires, everything else is nice, additions to use with other things. I would only spend the money on expensive stuff like grinders, smokers, rice cookers, etc. if your going to use them at least once a week, or use them for a month straight or so (butcher?). Spend your month else where, like a vacation?

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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Blogs

 

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My thoughts on recipes

Recipes are not guides, they are pointers. They are great to learn to cook with, but you don’t learn to actually cook without tossing the recipe books out the window and just jamming around in the kitchen. Some of this is based on my struggles with finding all the ingredients a recipe calls for. Sometimes there’s a cheaper or healthier alternative.

So this is my work process with recipes.

  1. Read recipe
  2. Ask “Is there anything I can modify change?”
    – Add or modify the vegetables in it?
    – Add savory, sweet, sour, spicy tastes?
    – Modify or change out, or remove meat?  (Chicken instead of pork, potatoes instead of chicken, etc.)
  3.  Ask “What do have I access to & can afford?”
    – Regular mushrooms instead of shiitake mushrooms.
    – Jalapeños instead of chili peppers
  4.  Ask “What do I have on hand that I can use in this? (aka use what ever is in the fridge!)”
    – This works amazing for curries, stir-fry, & hash.
  5. Go cook something!

You might start with a stir-fry and end with something similar to curry, or start with an omelette and end with hash.

Also, ignore this advice if your baking… I’m horrible at baking, maybe because it depends specific qualities of ingredients.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Blogs, Recipes

 

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