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Completely Lost - Help Please... ;_;

f
Fanta Cook Jul 22, 2007 05:16 PM

I don't know much about cooking and I'm trying to buy some stuff but I don't know where to begin...

- pan... non-stick or not?
- utensils... I was just searching for this on amazon and it seems the best are steel ones? wouldn't that be bad to use on a non-stick pan?
- uh... what are those pasta-specialized pots are called...? :'( the ones that have a basket in the pot that you life and automatically drain the water... I think.

And unrelated questions but I'm about to explode here to why not...

- can I heat plates in microwaves? or does it have to be an over? how do restaurants do it? Do most people at home do this anyway? I just found out about it. And yeah I haven't been in a restaurant for a while...

- I can't for the life of me find an index of the sub-boards here. There's the latest posts and list of boards by location. My last topic was moved to this forum so I used that link...

Many, many thanks for any help people. <3

  1. p
    pfarrell Jul 22, 2007 05:46 PM

    Fanta...can't answer all of your questions, but I'll throw in what I can.

    I like a non-stick skillet for things like scrambled eggs. There are good quality utensils for use in a non-stick pan. With few exceptions, like a non stick spatula for scrambled eggs, I use stainless utensils (my TONGS!!!) on all surfaces. Most pans hold up for a couple of years.. I'd suggest heading out to your local housewares store and see how the pan looks in person. Pick it up and feel it--same goes for the utensils. Depending on what you plan to cook, it might be helpful to have a non-non-stick pan or a cast iron skillet as well. I'm sure if you supply that info--how you plan to use the pan-- you'll get lots of CH help.

    I don't have a microwave, so if I feel the need to serve heated plates, I generally rinse under hot water and let them sit in a warm place before using. I don't have a dishwasher either, but it occurs to me that one could probably use a very short cycle to warm a lot of plates for a crowd. Most all newly made everyday plates and dinnerware will indicate on the back if it is microwave and dishwasher safe, if that is a concern.

    Hope this helps!

    1. Candy Jul 22, 2007 05:56 PM

      Okay, first you can heat your plates in a low (225 F.) oven for a few minutes before serving. You can buy something that looks like a multi-pocketed heating pad with slots for the plates and heat them on the counter top.

      How much pasta are you making? if you are making 8/6/4 etc. servings then a regular 4-5 qt. sauce pan whic you can use for many more things and a collander to cook pasta.

      For non-stick pans I only buy skillets and if you follow the directions and don't use Pam or other aerosole oils on it they will last a long time. I have never seen the purpose of non-stick sauce pans and I do cook some sticky grains like grits and oatmeal but have Calphalon or stainless is just fine and for some things like polenta I cook it in the microwave. Then put the bowl in the dishwasher. e-mail me drectly for more help. cgrover@kiva.net. I'm a Home Eccy and have been cooking for more than 30 years. I have had a lot of experience with trial and error. There are plenty of companies and stores ready to put out fairly worthless mdse, to get your money. Another thought when looking at cooking equipment, if it is what I refer to as a 1 trick pony put your wallet back in your pocket or purse. If you cannot think of more than one use for a piece of equipment, especially appliances, run away. Yes there are some specialized pots, pans, and baking equipment like tart pans, spring forms etc. Shop carefully, ask lots of questions and ask yourself questions.

      1. m
        MakingSense Jul 22, 2007 07:30 PM

        If you don't know much about cooking, it is sooooo easy to get overwhelmed by good advice. So why not keep it simple?
        Nope. I don't heat my plates at home unless I'm doing a fancy dinner. When you get ready to do that, you can do it in your oven set on a very low temperature. Doesn't sound you're you're ready to do that yet though...
        If you need a simple pan (or skillet) for everyday use, you can start our with a decent quality teflon pan. A 10" or 12" skillet will be big enough to do about anything you need. I bought a set of them at Costco for about $20 years ago and they have worn better than I ever expected. I even use metal utensils in them. They're scratched but who cares? Don't worry about the "health" scares. By the time you overheat it enough to release any "toxic gases," the dang pan will have caught fire anyway.
        Candy's advice is good about the pasta pot. A good 4 to 6 quart sauce pan will be a good purchase. Use it for boiling pasta or making soup. Buy a colander for draining pasta and you can use the same colander for washing fruits and veggies.
        A smaller saucepot with a lid is a good thing to own for cooking veggies, potatoes, or heating soup. Make sure to get a nice heavy one. Maybe about 2 quarts.
        Don't forget to buy a simple cookie sheet to put under things in the oven. You need that even to warm bread or leftovers.
        Keep it simple and keep asking for advice.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MakingSense
          p
          pickledgarlic Jul 27, 2007 03:40 PM

          I have no idea what the type of pan is called... I have 2 of them though:

          12" and 14" across and 2 1/2 - 3" deep (straight walled sides), fits a lid. 1 is teflon and 1 is all-clad.

          They get the most use out of anything in my kitchen.

          Pan pasta sauces (arrabiata sauce etc), curries, burrito filling, doubles has a second wok when I'm in a pinch, large amounts of bacon. It fills a nice niche between frying pan and dutch oven when there is some, but not a lot, of liquid involved.

          The all-clad one does heavy duty searing meats and then going in the oven to finish.

          1. re: pickledgarlic
            revsharkie Jul 28, 2007 08:06 AM

            I have one of those, Farberware stainless; I think they called it a "sauteuse" pan. I use it for rice pilaf and risotto, for sauteing, for poaching fish, sometimes for things that go stovetop-to-oven if I don't want to use a cast iron skillet for some reason. It's probably my most-often-used pan. As a matter of fact, when I moved here I left some basic pans with Mike since he wasn't coming until several weeks after I did, and others I sent in the moving van; but this one pan I had with me in the car just in case the movers were delayed, because it's a versatile enough pan that I could cook just about anything in it if I needed to.

            1. re: pickledgarlic
              r
              RGC1982 Jul 30, 2007 02:13 PM

              If they have straight sides and are somewhat shallow versus their width, they are covered saute pans. They look very much like deep, straight-sided frying pans, but their greater depth allows you to cook things in sautes and sauces without fear of the liquid or oil overflowing. Sometimes the sauteuse has an angled side, or may even be conical (rounded).

          2. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jul 23, 2007 02:39 AM

            Hi there! I'll do my best to help out.

            First, the pans. Non-stick or not? Yes. Both have their own separate applications. If you're going to do just one, make it non-stick. A traditional skillet is really nice to have for doing meats; the outside gets a much better sear from traditional than non-stick, and with non-stick, it's impossible to make a good pan sauce (one of those things everyone should learn to do, and it's easy!) since you don't get any little bits stuck to the pan. If you're going to get just one, go for a 12 inch non-stick. It's what I use for most of my cooking. From there, I'd get a 12 inch traditional. After that, I'd probably do 10-inch in both of them. 8-inchers will only be worth it if you cook things for just yourself, and 14-inchers if you cook for six or more on a regular basis. DO NOT get cookware sets! You'll only use a couple of things in it (the skillet, the big pot, and a saucepan) and you'll save money and kitchen space if you just buy what you need.

            Utensils- The material completely depends on how you're using it. You are very much correct that you do not want to use metal utensils on a non-stick pan.

            Those pasta specialized pots are called pasta pots, and they are completely worthless. As others have said, you're better off with a 6 to 8 quart pot (get one that's wider than it is tall, you can do more with it than vice versa) and a colander.

            You can heat plates in microwaves; get them damp and put them in for a minute or two. If the plate gets hot on its own in the microwave it is not microwave safe. I think it works better in the oven; if you aren't baking anything, set it on the lowest setting and put them in while you're finishing up cooking. If you are baking something, put them in for just a couple of minutes. In restaurants, they keep the plates warm generally by keeping them on the expo line (in between the cooks and the person who brings the food under heat lamps. Most people don't warm plates at home, but it's a very nice touch indeed. Note that if you're serving for a cocktail party where people will hold the plates or balance them on their laps, you want the plates to be room temperature. Naturally, cold things should go on cold plates ;-)

            The list of boards by location *is* the sub-boards. Click the little triangle next to the word "Boards" on the top menu line and it will drop down. The non-regional boards are all in column #3.

            And keep asking questions! That's what we love.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
              MMRuth Jul 23, 2007 05:09 AM

              Lots of great advice, and I will third that those pasta pots with the insets are a complete waste of time and money. You'll use a colander and a stock pot for other things as well, so I'd go that route.

            2. j
              jzerocsk Jul 23, 2007 08:58 AM

              Definitely checkout Bittman's article about equipping a no-frills kitchen:
              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

              I'll also nth opinions that the pasta insert is pointless and that you will want at least one non-stick skillet AND non-non-stick pots/pans.

              Utensils, depends what you need. Metal utensils can damage non-stick surfaces, so you will at least need a few wood/plastic/silicone pieces for the non-stick pan.

              Personally aside from tongs, I don't have any all-metal stuff (large metal grill spatula notwithstanding). My plastic spatulas work equally well in all my cookware. I heartily recommend getting a few silicone "spoonulas." They are great tools. And a few sets of good tongs. One's just not enough.

              1. c
                caminowalker Jul 23, 2007 09:22 AM

                Fanta,
                Pans: Non stick, for skillets only. I have had a couple Calphalon skillets for 20 years now (the hard annodized surface) and have used stainless steel utensils on them with no problems. Totally non-stick, but without the coating. Worth the extra money to buy right the first time. Macy's sells them, and other places I'm sure, but there are Macy's all over the place. If money is the object, however, and you really need to keep your spending in the low range, I would go with a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet, before I would buy a cheap nonstick skillet - cast iron is dirt-cheap, like $10, and bullet-proof.

                Pasta: I wouldn't waste the extra money on the nonstick technology for saucepans or pasta pots, however. Just put a couple of tablespoonsful of olive oil in a regular saucepan or stock pot (depending on how much pasta you are cooking) and the pasta won't stick. Be sure to use plenty of water, don't try to jam a lot of pasta in a small pot or you'll regret it. Drain it in a colandar and presto! pasta.

                Utensils: I use stainless steel, everything else rusts or melts. Doesn't hurt the Calphalon or anything else I have. And tongs are great utensils, I second whoever said that.

                BTW, I've been cooking a long long time and have yet to preheat dinner plates, even on holdidays. So don't worry too much about how to do that.

                1 Reply
                1. re: caminowalker
                  Mandymac Jul 30, 2007 12:56 PM

                  I would buy the cast-iron for nonstick not just because of the price--Teflon and the like are starting to look problematic from a health perspective and why risk it? Cast iron works so well. You can even buy a very small one to cook a couple of eggs in.

                  My advice, skip chemical non-stick coatings for cast iron and some nonstick spray--couple of pans will only cost you $30 or so.

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