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Old 06-07-2016, 04:36 PM   #1
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Cooking essentials...

I know there are probably a hundred and one posts asking this but I thought I would see what the view is of people!

I am new to cooking and initially bought everything on a very tight budget and bought for 'convenience' more than quality...

Now I am looking to improve my cooking, I am wondering what everyone sees as their 'cooking essentials'

What couldn't you live without in your kitchen?
What is the best things to buy to create better dishes in the kitchen?
And just any gadgets in general!

Thanks

~ Paul

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Old 06-07-2016, 05:02 PM   #2
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For us, that question has no easy answer. As we expand into different cuisines, our essentials expand. This is like the "pantry", condiment questions. There isn't a final, conclusive answer!
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Old 06-07-2016, 05:12 PM   #3
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Cooking essentials...

I like my food processor, spice grinder (don't use it for coffee), Liddle Griddle, slow cookers, toaster oven, a few sharp knives, and an immersion blender.

However, when I went to college, I had the most miserable beat-up set of pots and pans, some very dull knives, and managed to make do.
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Old 06-07-2016, 05:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmawson View Post

...What couldn't you live without in your kitchen?
What is the best things to buy to create better dishes in the kitchen?
And just any gadgets in general!

Thanks

~ Paul
First and foremost is your desire to be better and your commitment to learn. Learn your craft as well as you can. You create great dishes, your equipment doesn't.

That said, good ingredients and tools do help the process.

As you cook, you will build a pantry of ingredients you like and use regularly. (Don't ask us what you should have in your pantry, what you cook determines that.)

As far as equipment, a few good quality knives, pieces of cookware make life easier. Quality tools (not necessarily expensive tools) do make life easier.

Sets of knives are generally not necessary. Most of us here will tell you you can do 99% of your kitchen work with three knives. You can always add more knives later.

The same goes for cookware although manufacturers offer so many different sets, you might find one that works for you.

Electric tools can be super helpful and fun. A food processor, slow cooker, stick blender can make life easier.

If you do a lot of baking, a stand mixer is a godsend.
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Old 06-07-2016, 07:17 PM   #5
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Bare essentials

The question is too broad so I narrowed my thoughts to where the rubber meets the road food hits the heat.
  • I need a good heavy stainless steel skillet. 10" and/or 12".
  • 1 1/2 and 3-quart heavy bottom stainless pots.
  • Enamel coated cast iron dutch oven, 5 or 6 quart.
There are others that are very handy but those are essential for me.
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Old 06-07-2016, 07:46 PM   #6
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"I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes... If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes." - Thoreau

I feel the same about cooking equipment!

I use my blender to puree soups and a mandoline to slice vegetables, that is about it as far as specialized equipment, I don't really need those items.

I think it is more important to learn to improvise and make do with what you have, to me that is the test of a real cook.

Like others have said a few sharp knives, heavy pots, pans, casseroles etc... is about all you need.

Relax and take your time to surround yourself with things that you find helpful, fun to use or just attractive to have in your kitchen. I'm in my 60's and I'm still buying and shedding items as I continue to putter around in the kitchen.
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:53 PM   #7
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I live in a tiny apartment at the moment. The kitchen came equipped with one drawer and five cupboards, so everything I use to cook, eat, or drink has to fit in that confining space. Therefore, I only have essentials right now. These include:
  • A cutting board
  • A handful of good knives. About three, like Andy said. I have a chef's knife
  • Two frying pans (1 non-stick, 1 is enameled cast iron), two small pots, and a dutch oven.
  • Spices. I have a lot. Maybe too many.
  • A food processor. It isn't a necessity, but has many functions and can even be used as a blender. I have it out at least 3 nights a week, so it ended up earning a spot on my counter top.

All my non-essentials are currently in storage until I find a more permanent residence. But having been constrained to using so few items, I may have to rethink whether I need all those things.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:49 PM   #8
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I found I needed at least a 3.5 qt and a 1.5 qt pot with lids, a large saute pan with lid and an 8" and 10" fry pan. That's what I need, not what I have. I'm currently considering selling my copper set to get a stainless steel set that has more of what I want and would use.

A couple wooden spoons, a couple pancake flippers, a couple bowl scrapers, a slotted spoon, a decent potato masher, and a ladle. Later on I got tongs and a whisk although I don't think I really need those.

I haven't figured out the knives yet.

I have about 30 spices and I want to add a few more if I can.

A crock pot. A large casserole dish. A bread pan. A cookie sheet. Oh, and I went berserk and got a set of 9 measuring spoons and 8 measuring cups. And I think I'm going to look at getting some of those Silpat baking mats. I'm tired of the smoke alarm going off when the parchment paper turns black. My friend gave me a blender for Christmas (or maybe it's a food processor - I don't know the difference), but I haven't used it yet.
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Old 06-08-2016, 12:24 AM   #9
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As you can see from the above responses, there's no pat answer to your question.
To be a better cook you need to be inspired. It could be that one quality cooking tool could do that for you. It's your wish list for your personal kitchen, and that's a wonderful concept.
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Old 06-08-2016, 02:33 PM   #10
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If you like finely chopped vegetables, you cannot go wrong with this little manual food processor. Amazon.com: SHINKODA SK-2000E All In One 4-Cup Manual Food Processor, Black: Kitchen & Dining
It is the Shinkoda.
Easy to store and easy to clean.
Pans you like, if you think you will be baking, a cookie sheet and baking pans.
Heck I use mostly cheap stuff in my kitchen. A good set of measuring cups. I have the same ones as a poster above me.

More importantly what do you want to cook?
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Old 06-08-2016, 02:46 PM   #11
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When I got the call from the court house asking me if I could take my granddaughter that day, I did take her. I was living with my daughter. I had broken up my home and went to live with her to help her out. I had only the clothes I owned. With my limited funds I went out and bought two of everything I would need. Two plates, two forks, two spoons, two knives, one cup and one glass. One med. Dollar Store 2 qt. saucepan, one wooden spoon and one spatula for turning food over. Like eggs. That pan served me for a month until I could get the time to go to yard sales and add the rest of what I needed to make a home for her. I had gotten her bed from her mothers home.

With just those few utensils I managed to make nutritious meals for the both of us. You get the gist of what I am trying to say. You don't always need the latest and greatest. What would you use if you were out in the woods and camping? You certainly don't haul a bunch of kitchen equipment with you. For food I applied for emergency Food Stamps. For the two of us it was an adventure in frugal living. If I had let the court know that I didn't even own a roll of toilet paper, my granddaughter would have gone into the State system of foster homes. With family help and my weekly paycheck, I was able to put together a home for both of us over time. Today, I am cleaning out my kitchen of a lot of stuff I no longer need. Less cleaning. And she is married with three children of her own.
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Old 06-08-2016, 02:51 PM   #12
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Essentials - in my order of most important to least impotant.

1. Reliable heat source
2. Reliable, and comfortable Chef's knife
3. Proper cutting board
4. heavy pots and pans, as good as you can afford.
5. Cooking spoons, turners, spatulas, and whisks.
6. Serving plates, platters, bowls, etc.
7. Lots of herbs, spices, and flavorings.
8. Imagination, and the willingness to take risks.

That's as basic as I can get.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 06-08-2016, 05:12 PM   #13
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As you cook more you will find out the things you need. At least that what's happening with me. My first big purchase was good quality pots and pans. Then I bought a pressure cooker. I got cook books about Mexican food and one pressure cooker cook book. I bought corn and implements to make tortillas from scratch.

My most difficult purchase was knives. I ordered just 3 knives and they didn't put me in the poor house. The first one arrived today. The other two will arrive tomorrow.

The bottom line is...Cook and you will see what you need. Let your passion lead you.
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Old 06-10-2016, 05:56 PM   #14
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I absolutely love all the responses here and everyone has been super helpful! In answer to some of the questions...

I like to cook anything and I am honestly just about starting off with cooking from scratch with dishes like: spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, fajitas etc but I am wanting to try all sorts of dishes!

Some of my favourite dishes are things such as casseroles and stews as well as any pasta dish really so I am hoping soon to make my own pasta to go with the dishes that I make.

A solid knife seems to be an overall view of one piece of equipment that would be good to get hold of and I honestly think that will probably be one of my first new purchases along with a good quality chopping board and then from there hopefully expand my kitchen to equipment that I can use regularly and create some new dishes to try!
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmawson View Post
I absolutely love all the responses here and everyone has been super helpful! In answer to some of the questions...

I like to cook anything and I am honestly just about starting off with cooking from scratch with dishes like: spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, fajitas etc but I am wanting to try all sorts of dishes!

Some of my favourite dishes are things such as casseroles and stews as well as any pasta dish really so I am hoping soon to make my own pasta to go with the dishes that I make.

A solid knife seems to be an overall view of one piece of equipment that would be good to get hold of and I honestly think that will probably be one of my first new purchases along with a good quality chopping board and then from there hopefully expand my kitchen to equipment that I can use regularly and create some new dishes to try!
End grain cutting board is better for you knives. And you can also place a cheap plastic cutting sheet on the wooden cutting board, with different colors for different tasks, one for meats, one for strong flavored foods such as onions, garlic, peppers, etc., and one for veggies.

You have lots of culinary adventures ahead of you.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 06-10-2016, 07:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmawson View Post
I absolutely love all the responses here and everyone has been super helpful! In answer to some of the questions...

I like to cook anything and I am honestly just about starting off with cooking from scratch with dishes like: spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, fajitas etc but I am wanting to try all sorts of dishes!

Some of my favourite dishes are things such as casseroles and stews as well as any pasta dish really so I am hoping soon to make my own pasta to go with the dishes that I make.

A solid knife seems to be an overall view of one piece of equipment that would be good to get hold of and I honestly think that will probably be one of my first new purchases along with a good quality chopping board and then from there hopefully expand my kitchen to equipment that I can use regularly and create some new dishes to try!
Pasta is a great place to start!

No special equipment needed, you can work 1/3 or 1/4 of the dough at a time using a conventional rolling pin. No rolling pin, try an empty wine bottle!

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