Monday, January 12, 2009

A Few Basics

Before I start listing recipes I think it would be helpful to first provide a list of cooking utensils that I think are essential for any kitchen. This list can be accomplished at any price range and I find that Target is a pretty sure bet for finding everything on this list:

(1) Dutch Oven
First of all, every cook needs a good dutch oven. I love my dutch oven and it is the hardest working pot in my kitchen. I use it for everything from chili to pasta sauce to macaroni and cheese to soup to pot roast.

Because a dutch oven is so practical I recommend buying the best one you can afford -- it will be worth it in the long run because you will use it for years to come. A good dutch oven will be made of cast iron with an enamel coating. Mine is Le Creuset and if you can afford the $100+ dollars to buy one of these pots, I highly recommend purchasing one. I was lucky to find and entire set of Le Creuset cookware at an antique auction for less than $200 dollars. I have also found additional pieces at Goodwill for $10 or so (meaning that I highly recommend searchings places like Goodwill and yard sales for stuff like this)

However, if you are not a Goodwill shopper Target carries a variety of lines, including the Rachael Ray line that has a nice 3.5 quart dutch oven for $59.99
(2) A Basic Cookware Set
Every cook needs a good basic cookware set. I lucked out and got an Emerilware by All Clad set for free using my Westlaw points. However, if you are not lucky enough to use Westlaw on a daily basis like I am I suggest purchasing a mid grade set from Target or a similar retailer. The Rachael Ray cookware set seems to be a good choice; Calphalon also has a moderately priced line for Target. I have a large skillet from the Kitchen Essentials from Calphalon line and love it.

A good basic cookware set will have be either 10 pieces or 7 pieces and should have all of your basic pots and pans: various saucepans, a stockpot, and a couple of skillets, with all of the saucepans and stockpots having lids.
(3) A large nonstick skillet
Any brand will do, just find one that you like.
(4) A pizza pan
(5) A cookie sheet

Other Kitchen Essentials:
(1) A Good Knife
I cannot stress how important a good knife is. One good knife will be far more useful than an entire set of bad knives. I recommend buying the best one you can afford. I recommend a triple rivet performance chef's knife. I have three of these (all from Target and all were in the $20 price range) and I use them for everything from chopping vegetables to slicing cheese.
(2) A Variety of Silicone Spatulas
I like the ones from Williams-Sonoma because they have the apple green that I decorate with. However, Target, Wal-Mart and even Dollar Tree have a great variety of these so just pick out a variety in a color that you like and at a price you can afford.
(3) A Variety of Wooden Spoons
I recommend picking up a set of these at the dollar store or Wal-Mart. Seriously, a wooden spoon is a wooden spoon.
(4) A Large Plastic Cutting Board
Again, Target or Wal-Mart for this. I really like the Kitchen-Aid line of plastic cutting boards.
(5) Serving Utensils
I got mine at Dollar Tree and love them.
(7) Can Opener, Vegetable Peeler, Corkscrew

And that's about all I can think of for a well stocked kitchen.

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