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Old 02-18-2007, 03:47 PM   #1
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Cooking Essentials

My daughter just moved to her first apartment and I am wanting to help her put together the "must have"s for cooking. She enjoys cooking and baking. But, convenience must be considered as well. She has a three year old son, a 25 hour week job and is in graduate school. Any suggestions ?

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Old 02-18-2007, 04:41 PM   #2
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The initial considerations that came to my mind are how much space does she have to devote to kitchen/cooking/baking things and how much money is available to spend on same?

Then, how skilled is she at cooking and/or what does she prefer to cook? Will she be cooking only for herself and her child? Appliance-wise, how is her apartment kitchen outfitted? What does she already have?

Answers to these questions will give a baseline from which to answer your question better.
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Old 02-18-2007, 05:37 PM   #3
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The first things to my mind was: Good knife, solid cutting board, Quality pot, and a quality pan. Those are the essentials. A bit Spartan, but enough to get by.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:06 PM   #4
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For 23 years old, she is a good cook. She grew up scratch cooking. But, she leanstoward more convenience right now. So I guess it is a blend. She likes to bake cakes, quick breads, cookies, etc. Loves pasta anything. She has a pan from Marshall Fields 2 1/2 qt, I think it is their private brand, a set of cooking utensils from Bed Bath and Beyond, a jelly roll pan and muffin pan (borrowed). That's basically it. She will be cooking most of the time for three (one big boy who loves steak - so I was wondering about a grill pan).
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:09 PM   #5
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This is the perfect time to do it right.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:12 PM   #6
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I forgot, she cooks with fresh herbs. I intend to make an herb pot of some type for her balcony.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:16 PM   #7
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Convenience might mean a selection of food storage containers. Possibly larger cookware so she can cook in bulk on her day off, and store stuff for the week.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:16 PM   #8
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Don't bother with a grill pan. She would be better off with a cast iron fry pan. She will be able to cook great steaks in one of those. They are inexpensive which is a good thing, but don't let price fool you. They are great to have. A grill pan just gives you nice looking marks, but you actually want more contact with the pan so if looks are more important than taste then go with the grill pan.

A decent chefs knife is a must. Let her pick it out though. It needs to fit her hand, just as a pair of shoes need to fit. She needs to feel it to make sure it fits.

A stock pot for boiling water for pasta and soups.
A sauce pan.
A large fry pan.
A pair of locking tongs.
Some wooden or plastic spoons.
A spatula.
measuring cups and spoons.

Those are just a few things off the top of my head. Every person is different though so what one person considers essential another would consider useless. Since she does a lot of baking then a silpat might be essential for her. I don't bake much at all so for me it is not something I would spend $ on.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRCooks
For 23 years old, she is a good cook. She grew up scratch cooking. But, she leans toward more convenience right now. So I guess it is a blend. She likes to bake cakes, quick breads, cookies, etc. Loves pasta anything. She has a pan from Marshall Fields 2 1/2 qt, I think it is their private brand, a set of cooking utensils from Bed Bath and Beyond, a jelly roll pan and muffin pan (borrowed). That's basically it. She will be cooking most of the time for three (one big boy who loves steak - so I was wondering about a grill pan).
It's nice that she likes to bake, but you can't live on baked goods. Quick breads, etc. are good for breakfast and snacks. Breads, etc. can be used for sandwiches, toast and such.

You say she's into convenience at this point, then a covered 2-quart casserole would be a must. Maybe even two of them. On weekends she could prepare casseroles and freeze them. All she has to do is to line the casserole dish with parchment paper. Once frozen, remove it from the casserole and store the food in a freezer zipper-lock bag. Normally I would suggest lining the pan with foil, but she might want to reheat the casserole in the microwave and foil is a no-no there.

The grill pan is a good idea. She can use it for more than steaks. Chicken breasts, fish, chops. Just use your imagination. Grilled chicken is great for a main dish salad in the summer. However, a cast-iron skillet will suffice as well. Plus, there's nothing like cornbread cooked in a cast-iron skillet.

Her 2 1/2-quart pan will be good for soups and stews for four people. She'll need a larger pot to properly cook pasta. Get a colander to drain the pasta or kill two birds with one stone and get a salad spinner. She can use the inside basket to drain her pasta.

Another item she might find useful is a skillet with lid that can be put in the oven. She could make frittatas for breakfast, lunch or dinner with one of these.

A good knife and cutting board are high on the list. As are high-heat silicone spatulas and scrapers. Good heavy potholders will serve her well especially if she gets any cast-iron, which is what I would suggest for a grill pan.

There are more I could suggest but there are others on this board who will offer great advice. I'll post more as I think of it.

Even though she's facing a time crunch right now, she can still cook from scratch and not rely on some of the boxed quickies that are on the market shelves. She'll save money, too, cooking from scratch and will cook in a more healthful manner.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRCooks
I forgot, she cooks with fresh herbs. I intend to make an herb pot of some type for her balcony.
Purchase a strawberry pot at your local garden center for a balcony herb garden. I've done that and it works very well. Before you put the soil and herbs in do this:

Buy a piece of PVC pipe 3-inches in diameter and about 2 inches taller than the pot. Drill a bunch of 1/4-inch holes in the pipe evenly down and around it. Then put the pipe in the pot before adding any soil. Put the soil in the pot around the pipe, plant the herbs in the little "balconies" in the pot. When the herbs need to be watered, pour water into the pipe. The holes in the pipe will allow the full depth of the pot to get water and you won't wash the plants out of their spaces trying to water from the outside.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:52 PM   #11
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All great ideas. That I Will Follow.
Do you have any brand name, etc. suggestions?

She knows how to bake yeast bread, but she does not yet recognize how easy it can be when you just think about the timing.

As far as cookbooks, she has the new Better Homes and Garden and what I thought was a really neat cookbook from ReallySimple.
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Old 02-18-2007, 07:33 PM   #12
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The girl definately needs a crock-pot...it will be a great convenience for her.

I was just thinking about when I first got married. It was a quickie wedding and we didn't have anything, so my mom and grandma got some things together for me: an inexpensive set of pots & pans that included 2 saucepans, a skillet and a Dutch oven...a set of 3 mixing bowls that my mom got with Top Value trading stamps...2 cookie sheets...2 round cake pans...2 pie pans...a rolling pin, mat & mitt...measuring cup & spoons...assorted utensils that they had extras of, including a chef's knife and paring knife...hotpads, dishcloths and towels. My mother-in-law got me a set of stainless steel silverware, and dishes she'd gotten at the grocery store through those specials they used to run, where for every certain amount of $$$ you spent, you got a free plate or something. She also gave me a bunch of Green Stamps she'd been saving, and I got myself a little hand mixer with those.
I did a lot of good baking and cooking with what I had.
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Old 02-18-2007, 07:57 PM   #13
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I think get her at least one large pot with a lid that can be used for anything from boiling water for pasta to making large pots of soup, one large non-stick fry pan for anything from fried eggs to grilled cheese sandwiches, a pan that can go from stove to oven . Also a couple of good knifes, a cutting board, a colander, a couple of casserole dishes, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons. (she already has the utensils). That ought to get her off to a good start.
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Old 02-18-2007, 09:11 PM   #14
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what abou one of those Food Saver vacuum things since she would like to prepare meals to serve later due to her scheduling difficulties?
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Old 02-18-2007, 10:02 PM   #15
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Vacuum packing is for more long term storage. Like long term freezing. storage bags, and containers are good for a week or so.
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Old 02-18-2007, 11:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elcameron
Vacuum packing is for more long term storage. Like long term freezing. storage bags, and containers are good for a week or so.
I would respectfully disagree with everything in this post. I use vacuum packaging for both short and long term storage. The bag and canisters are good for a heck of a lot longer than a week otherwise their would be no point. I have food in bags that is years old and still fine.

I would not consider a vacuum packing machine a necessity, but it sure is a nice luxury. It is something that gets used daily in my house. If you have the money to get her one (or if she does) then they are a great tool by all means. They are not necessary though.
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:03 AM   #17
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I think your post and mine are in complete agreement. Vacuum sealing for longer than a week, bags and other food storage for a week or so.
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Old 02-19-2007, 09:05 AM   #18
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I vacuum seal items that I use daily elcameron.

When you were talking about bags and containers I thought you were talking about those made for vacuum packing.
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Old 02-19-2007, 11:38 AM   #19
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I've already started shopping online.
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Old 02-22-2007, 04:22 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by LRCooks
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I've already started shopping online.
Any good finds??
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