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May 9, 2007 05:15 AM

Equip your kitchen for $200...

So says Mark Bittman in today's NYTimes...

(this is a cross post...hope it's not against the rules but I wasn't sure whether this would go here or in media)

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  1. Hooray for Bittman! I think you can do it even cheaper if you bide your time, buying only the things that you really use and have space for. Some of my favorite things are also quality pieces I picked up for a song at estate and rummage sales - people downsizing and disposing of excellent items.

    1. Bittman is absolutely right -- and I think he even overspent in some cases. I've found terrific kitchen supplies at both Target and T.J. Maxx/Home Goods. They have an ample supply of brand names at low prices.

      I disagree with him on a microwave. I could not get along without one. I also love my boiling water pot, which I purchased after living in Japan. It provides hot water at the touch of a button and that speeds and simplifies cooking. I agree that the rest of the gizmos are superfluous unless you truly want to make bread or pasta yourself.

      11 Replies
      1. re: brendastarlet

        After years of having a microwave, our latest apartment doesn't have one - and there is no room for one. And I have to say, the only time I miss it is when I want to defrost something quickly.

        1. re: MMRuth

          MMRuth, I didn't have a microwave for the first 3-4 yrs in my current apt and I was fine. My mother assumed i wanted one and bought one for me. I use it from time to time, but wouldn't much miss it if it was gone.

          1. re: MMRuth

            The only times that I miss having a microwave is reheating coffee (I tend to drink it slowly) and reheating leftovers (it's a lot faster in the microwave).

            1. re: JasmineG

              I totally agree about the coffee. I long for the "one mug microwave" that will take up virtually no room on the counter but let me nuke my coffee or tea quickly.

            2. re: MMRuth

              The most useful function on my microwave is the timer. It will go weeks without being used for anything else. My toaster oven has a defrost function that takes a bit longer, but does a much better job than the microwave ever has.

              1. re: Megiac

                I'm the least "gadgety" person alive, but I'd sure hate to live without a microwave after having one for so many years. Just the savings in time & water washing the pots you reheat things in on a stove, the fast defrosting, the sanitizing of dish cloths & sponges, the cups of cold coffee and tea I'd have to throw away if I couldn't zap them.

                My excellent little Samsung compact microwave cost me $70 (on sale plus senior discount plus $10 factory rebate). So I'll have to be content with Equipping My Kitchen for $270. (plus tax :o)

                1. re: PhoebeB

                  Feeebeebee, how do you sanitize stuff?

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Rinse out your dishcloth/sponge and put in the microwave for a minute and a half at high power. It will kill everything .

                    Little bonus: leave the door closed for ~5 minutes and then use the cloth to wipe out the interior of the microwave. The condensation from the cloth will have loosened the baked-on spatters and it will come clean as a pin with a couple of swipes.

              2. re: MMRuth

                I have a one-person (or 2 intimate people!) sized kitchen so I have so far not replaced the small one that died going on 10 years ago, but I did really like not having to mess up pots or pans just to heat up a can of soup or reheat a couple of different frozen or leftover foods at once... (Basically, the m/w would take up a lot less space than the dishwasher I can't have anyway and eating canned soup or frozen chili out of the pot is sinking pretty low in my view. LOL)

                For most things, I'd tend to agree that one of the newer immersion blenders probably do as well as most regular blenders, but disagree that blenders and processors are really interchangeable at all. You can "force" them to serve as stand-ins for each other, but the things they do well are really very different IMO.

              3. re: brendastarlet

                When I moved into my last apartment one of the first things I wanted to get was a microwave oven. However I just kept putting it off and never got around to it. 6 years later I can't even remember why I wanted one.

              4. I think Bittman did a good job putting together the absolute essentials for the most part. I'd have to add only one item, a 4qt (or so) non-reactive pot for tomato sauces and bolognese and the like. Ideally, it'd be an enamled cast iron pot (in which I could also roast chickens and make braises and stews). As brendastarlet pointed out, T.J. Maxx or Target or Marshall's would be great places to hunt for such a thing for something probably in the $40ish range as a second quality item.

                1. "the fear of buying the wrong kind of equipment is unfounded. It needs only to be
                  functional, not prestigious, lavish or expensive."

                  The should be posted at least once on all those "All-Clad, LTD or stainless?" threads.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Food processor? Huh? And why bother with a bottom-of-the-line HamiltonBeech unit? I mean seriously, if you are attempting to prepare something that in a large enough quantity then get a better/bigger device. ( and for even slicing he does have a mandoline... for puree a blender/stick mixer will always be better)

                    And a WHETSTONE for $6 is only going guarantee that you hack the heck out of whatever crummy edge your crummy knives might have had from the factory...

                    Rest of the list looks pretty much like what I would have at a vacation rental or cabin --cheap, disposable, but more than capable of living with indefinitely.

                    I can't see why you would not want a microwave, in fact with the price of several name brand convection microwaves now under $250 I would not consider NOT equipping every food prep spot with these. HUGE time saver, much more versatile than non-convecting type, a BRILLIANT marriage!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: renov8r

                      I have a $6 whetstone from the hardware store and it does a fine job keeping an edge on my Wustoff's