Im a young cook and im tryng to figure out stuff i need for my kitchen.
what are some things that you have to have in your kitchen?
whats the best one?
where can you find it the cheapest?
im also looking into a pizza stone for baking if any one has any ideas or suggestions.
thanks for the help!
p.s if you have any more tips or ideas for me please let me know.
If you get a copy of Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything," you'll not only have the best all-purpose American cookbook (I think so, anyway) but also a chapter on what cookware is the most useful for most cooking. He doesn't recommend specific items by brand name, but once you've decided on your basic hardware needs for the cooking you expect to do, you can get very specific recommendations here.
For just starting out, fancy equipment is not necessary. I did JUST fine with no kitchen aid mixer, food processor, or dutch oven. Actually I STILL don't have a dutch oven although it's on ever birthday and christmas wish list, and I have used my Cuisinart food processor maybe one time in the past year. Here's my list...I spent May-September cooking in my BF's kitchen with most of my stuff in storage and many of these were the items I actually brought with me in my car as I couldn't go without them:
-Chef's knife. That's it. I solely used my Global chef's knife for years. I now have a Global paring knife as well but I hardly use it.
-Large non-stick skillet. I have a 13" one from Ikea that I use multiple times a week. They also sell a glass lid separately, get that if you want, it's helpful for some things. You can get at Home Goods also.
-Smaller non-stick skillet, like 8-10".
-Large lidded pot of some kind, at least 5 quarts. I have both stainless and non-stick, both work fine but I find I like the non-stick better, because, well, it's easier to clean.
-Smaller lidded saucepan. Again, mine is non-stick.
-Cast iron skillet. I got my Lodge at Crate & Barrel as I was never able to find one at a thrift store.
-Large wood cutting board. Mine's from Ikea and is about 2" thick.
-Plastic cutting board. I use this for raw meat, but not much else.
-Meat thermometer. I got one at Target and it works just fine.
-If you plan on baking, some kind of mixer is nice. I bought a cheapo one to use for the summer for $10 at Target and it worked just fine. A stand mixer is nice, but absolutely not necessary. I've been baking since I was 5 years old, and didn't get a stand mixer until I was 26, and managed just fine.
-Baking sheet. Not just for baking, useful for roasting veggies, putting under casseroles in case there's spillage, carrying stuff out to the bbq, all kinds of stuff. Get a heavy duty metal one with sides, skip the non-stick stuff and just get parchment paper.
-Potato masher if you like to make mashed potatoes.
-Box grater with 4 sides
-Microplane for zesting
-Good set of tongs. I have 2 from ikea, and 1 Oxo that I got at Crate & Barrel. I like the Oxo's better.
-Vegetable peeler. Y peelers are better for stuff like squash and apples, the longer peelers are better for stuff like carrots. Up to you as to which one you want, or you can get both.
-Multi-time kitchen timer.
-Nowadays I can't live w/ out my food scale, but if you're not worried about losing weight and keeping it off, I don't think it's entirely necessary
-Measuring cups. You can get these at the dollar store, or you can splurge for a set of stainless steel ones. A 2 cup glass pyrex one is usually pretty handy also
-Measuring spoons. Again, dollar store or splurge for stainless steel ones.
-A few sizes of rubber/silicone spatulas. I even have a miniature one that I absolutely love.
-Pyrex baking dishes, the sets with the lids are nice to have, available at Target.
After you get the basic stuff to get you going, you can then add to your collection based on your cooking style and what you like to make.
The two appliances in my kitchen I would hate hate hate to give up are my Kitchenaid stand mixer and my Cuisinart food processor. mmmm... Wait a minute. The NUMBER ONE appliance I would not want to do without is my Jura Capresso super-automatic espresso machine. Use it every day, sometimes several times a day. THEN comes the mixer and the food processor. My knives are precious to me. I'm a Sabatier devotee. And you can't keep good knives without a good cutting board. Mine are bamboo. These are the heart and soul of my kitchen. For young cooks starting out, I think it's important to go for "investment quality" equipment. That does NOT necessarily mean expensive, but it does mean things that will hold up through constant use. Replacing stuff is spinning your wheels! One of the best investments I ever made was buying a ten dollar (then) Benriner mandoline. It's been a reliable friend for sixty years! Plastic! Who knew? If you love cooking, and I certainly do, then there is nothing as rewarding as having the right tool for the job. Don't be afraid to accumulate, even things you may only use once a year. When you need them, you need them immediately, and it's great to have it waiting for you. Happy cooking...!!!
Things that I must have in my kitchen (minus what others have already written):
- set of metal mixing bowls. They are lighter then the glass kind, and stick one over a pot of simmering water and you have a double boiler.
-set of measuring spoons. Look for ones that are more flat and wide. They fit better in containers that have a spoon slot.
- at least 1 whisk. I like metal, but if you have coated pans a plastic one might be better.
- cooking utensils, maybe this is too basic a suggestion, but you'll want a big serving mixing spoon, flipper/turner, and a slotted spoon. You can often buy them in sets, but check the quality, you don't want a flimsy handle that bends when you go to flip a burger. the advantage of a set is they often come with a holder if drawer space is at a premium.
Also skip the appliances until you can afford them. You don't need a kitchenaid blender when you can achieve the same results with a hand held mixer. A good knife, cutting board and grater can work in replacement of a food processor. I do really like my blender, especially for soups and smoothies.
-baking pans are always useful, 8x8", 9x13", a loaf pan, and a cookie sheet. Should get you through most dessert and casserole recipes. I like metal, president's choice brand at superstore are some of my favorites just cause they are a nice heavy weight. Also depending on cupboard space, get a letter sorter or pan rack to hold pans upright it makes the cupboard look neater and makes it easy to grab the right size.
- a platter and serving bowl are always useful.
Just remember a kitchen is a work in progress, and you don't need everything right away. I've used a round drinking glass as a rolling pin, 2 knives to cut in butter, and my metal bowls do double duty as a double boiler. Take your time, investigate your options and enjoy cultivating your kitchen. :)
I agree with the posts that you don't necessarily want the cheapest versions of anything. But for often times good values, visit a kitchen supply warehouse. If you're in/near a city there is more than likely at least one that is open to the public. Usually good quality things like knives, sheet pans, serving utensils and much more. Enjoy the adventure!
My advice would be that you take your time and buy things as and when you need them. Just get the important things first like knives and pans. Be mindful of hype created in forums that can lead you to buy unnecessary stuff. Also remember that other people's suggestions are based on their own preferences/experiences which may widely differ from yours.
By the way: If you get a chef's knife you do not need a Santoku at all. They both do the same thing or should I say there's nothing Santoku does that a chef's knife can't do.
When it comes to cast iron skillets I would suggest you go for stainless steel instead (deBuyer Force blue is a good make). A lot easier to look after and you don't have to bother with all the rituals of creating and maintaining a patina.
For the young chefs on a budget, I feel compelled to direct you to my favorite chef, Alton Brown (of the Good Eats era, not Iron Chef America era). On his show he constantly touted the benefits of multi-tasking tools/utensils, and wouldn't stock his tv show kitchen (which I believe was his actual kitchen) with anything that didn't serve at least two separate purposes.
I'm a young'n also starting out. I've learned so much by reading these boards and where/how to spend my money. So my two cents on my first kitchen (that I'm still building):
1. A decent chefs knife. My first was a Walmart Chicago Cutlery santku I got for 8 bucks. It works but one day I'll get a good knife. It's a nice feeling when you don't look for replacements bc you already have the best.
2. A cutting board. I looked at Boos but I can't afford it. Ikea I go: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30087148. I have to oil it constantly as it's still new but it's getting better. I think my next board might be bamboo. I also have cheapy plastic foldable ones for meats. Meat doesn't touch my wood board.
3. a large skillet. I had one given to me when friends moved. It's a non stick Bialetti and it's kinda huge, 13" across with 3" walls. It's just really versatile for me.
4. Garlic press. I looked around and ended up with more ikea: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00089163. I know everyone loves zyliss and kuhn rikon but this is one of those things that I love the cheap one just fine. I do peel it first, and it's easy to clean. I used to just mince it, but the garlic press just gets all those juices out which is great.
5. Nesting/prep bowls. Mise en place is your friend. I got these glass ones (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...) because its non reactive. I also have four Pottery barn snack and dipping bowls. Great extra storage and I can use it at the table too.
6. Rectangular pyrex set. I use these for cookies, casseroles, roasts, whatever. I don't have a lot of space so I need multi taskers and this does it.
7. Measuring cups! I felt stupid when I started to bake and realized I couldn't figure out an 1/8 of a teaspoon. I have cup measures but not the teeny tiny ones.
8. Hand Mixer. WS has it a KA on sale right now for $50. Bc no matter how hard I try, my hand and a whisk will never get something light and fluffy enough for cookies and cakes
9. Veggie peeler. I got this from the dollar store. Pretty much just for carrots. I rarely eat veggies and my bf is making me. He says theyre good for me.
10. Eyedropper. Weird I know. I use this for vanilla extract pretty much. I'm scared to pour a teaspoon of extract into that tiny bowl.
11.Wine pump. I cook with a drinking wine sometimes. I don't need teh whole bottle. pump the bottle, drink it later.
12.Bread knife. IT was on sale, and its kinda awesome.
13.Spatula. Again WS because it was one of the highest heat resistance I could fine. Ikea melted.. can't win everything. It makes me happy to get every last drop.
14. Mini chopper. Can't afford a big one, and Im sure I won't use it just cooking at my level for two. 10 bucks at target, it's enough to chop up some chillis.
15.Baking sheet. used with parchment paper. considered a silpat but I'm pleased with the paper. I will vouch for the commercial grade WS sheet. I think it has more versatility than a cookie sheet. I lift the whole paper out to slide it on the cooling rack.
My eye on:
Staub..blue or grey. round or oval. around 6 qt for me...
A great knife
A table top oven (bc my big oven is overkill for six cookies
second cutting board (it's good to have help)
oil pourer (bc drizzling is hard out of costco bottle)
cooking utenlis. bc mine are sad.
I think I'm done now..
I have been collecting kitchen tools for many many years. I have been replacing lesser quality items as I go along. Some of my lesser expensive tools have withstood the test of time, and are still functioning great. So, until the time comes when I need to I have just been going along with my lesser expensive items for a while now.
#1 You must have a 7.25 qt. round Le Creuset cast iron enameled dutch oven...look at the outlet stores for first quality, and if you don't care about the color you can often times get them at an additional discount. You can call the Sawgrass Mills Le Creuset Outlet, and in the month of Dec. they will ship for free. You must have this!
#2 You must have good silicone spatulas, again the Le Creuset are the BEST, get from the outlet, pretty inexpensive, especially since these are the best around. Get one or 2 in every size.
#3 Get a 10-12" cast iron deep fry pan. Look at estate sales, or even Goodwill. You can season yourself, or re-season as needed. I have a 10" and a 6", I would love a 12-14" as well.
#4 Knives. You need at leas halfway decent knives. My cousin loves the knives she got from IKEA. I prefer my Calphalon. Start with an 8" chef's knive. Look at TJ Maxx in the clearance isle. You will have to hold to see what fits your hands best. Get the best you can afford.
#5 Small skillets. You will need 2 at least. I like my cheap Wearever I got at the grocery store. I got them when I was on a real budget. They are non-stick......when they wear out I will look into Calphalon for non-stick, and All-Clad for clad stainless.
#6 Small saucepan, and large saucepan. I like stainless clad. I have a Martha Stewart set I paid around $250 for many many years ago. Very heavy, copper bottoms. When I replace these I will get All-Clad. Get the best you can afford. 18/10 Stainless heavy clad.
#7 Stock Pot. I have one from Sams Club, they come in diffrent sizes and for boiling water for pasta, it does the job. I do everything else in my dutch oven.
#8 Wooden spoons....I love my wooden spoons. I have Calphalon spoons, they have a slight curve, to hold sauce, and they are light weight. I have 2 sizes and I will be buying more of these. I love them.
#9 Wood cutting board. Not for meat, for that I use a plastic board, but a really good wood cutting board will last a lifetime if taken care of properly. I have a Boos, and I got the biggest I could get for my counter. I condition with the mineral lotion by Boos every few weeks. This will help your nice knives last longer.
#10 Large bowl. I have a graduated Pyrex mixing bowl set. I most often use the smallest one and the biggest one. I use the big one for mixing salads, pasta, letting bread dough rise, and for marinating. I would guess it is about 16-18" across.
I could go on and on, but without these few things I would be lost in my kitchen. I also could not live without sea salt, a pepper grinder, my 12" Calphalon hard anodized wok, and a chinese spider. I also have a Pro 600 Kitchenaid Mixer, and a Cuisinart Food Processor, 2 appliances I couldn't live without.
I am going to assume you have a limited budget and limited space to put it all in. Consequently, I am making a minimal list and will list inexpensive but good quality stuff if i can.
10 inch chef knife (Victorinox)
3.5 inch paring knife (Victorinox)
a peeler with stainless steel blade
Good silicone spatula
an enameled cast iron dutch oven 5 - 8 qts (Lodge or Tromontina)
a 12 inch 3 ply stainless steel Fry Pan (maybe a cuisinart)
a 1 qt stainless steel sauce pan with lid
a 3 qt stainless steel sauce pan with lid
a 12, 10 and an 8 inch non stick skillet
one of the new programmable slow cookers 4 qts
dry measuring cups
1 2 cup wet measuring cup
2 flexible cutting mats
one of those spin and store plastic storage container sets
Ask Santa for a pepper grinder with stainless grinders like a peugeot (about $30)
a box grater
Cook book "How to cook without a book" by Pam Anderson Teaches you techniques and general recipes and how to modify them.
I was in your shoes a little while ago + with no money. Fortunately, someone had given me good knives (thanks, Mom!) I just had to do the rest. I did it all with yard sales (which will be starting up again soon) I am now the proud owner of several pieces of LC, calphalon for 5-10 dollars, little gadgets for .50-1.00, an immersion blender for 15. The only thing I had to buy was a little cusinart (Big ones are available usually for 10. but lack counter space) At the most I spent couple of hundred dollars for excellent stuff (although I did have to expand a lot of elbow grease cleaning~) and patience--it took a summer of looking to get the good stuff.
First and foremost a good knife or two. Others have said that but it is worth repeating. A chef's knife and paring knife are the minimum.
I won't repeat what others have said, but here are some of my favorites. Almost all are rather cheap.
* A pair of OXO cooking tongs. Good for taking apart a roasted chicken, flipping burgers on a grill, and a whole lot more.
* A good pepper grinder.
* A baking pan (I like Chicago Metallic and Lincoln Food Service)
* Pyrex measuring cup (2 cup or more) and roasting pan too.
* Mortar and pestle. It has been a basic tool for centuries.
* One good wooden spoon (I like Berard)
* A good sized stock pot (pasta, stews, soups, stock etc.)
living in a small space has been my restriction and i'd say this list closest resembles what i feel is every day/week cookware to me outside of the pots/pans/silicone spatula basics (which is part of what smkit wasn't likely interested in repeating).
i'm not terribly picky about my brands and haven't had complaints so far with anything i have, so would suggest a restaurant supply store and just to make sure that you handle everything to ensure the weight and feel/comfort work for you.
the only thing that hasn't been mentioned that i find i'm regularly using is a funnel and a fine sieve that nests into that funnel. this is for jarring stocks, filtering out syrups/sauces, sieving out flavoured sugars, etc.
I don't think it is necessary for a young cook to have a Kitchenaid Mixer or "never learn to bake" as one poster has suggested. First, cost may be an issue and secondly, there are MANY of us in the world who bake frequently without owning a KA stand mixer. I use a KA Architect series hand mixer. I recall other threads here in the past where the debate raged over whether the stand mixer is essential to bakers. Ditto food processer - reasonably good knife skills will let you have a peaceful and productive kitchen without the expense or real estate of a food processor. I am not against the KA stand mixer - in fact, many times I have almost talked myself into the purchase just for the pasta attachments but I am still baking, and making pasta, without it so far.
i don't own an electric mixer of any sort and while i'm not a heavy baker it certainly doesn't stop me from baking quick breads, cookies, cakes, beating egg whites, pasta, etc. it might take a little more extra time by hand but then i get to zen out for a little while and have a mini arm work-out.
the only real use i've found for a food pro in all my cooking adventures is making nut flour. the rest is either wet enough to go into a blender (which i do think is great to have) or i can manage very well with a knife or a mortar and pestle.
I have to disagree with this. I immediately threw away my old grater as soon as I used a microplane product for the first time. All of the sudden I found a whole world of things to grate that I didn't think of before.
It's only a few dollars more expensive than a regular grater if you know where to look for them. I bought all 3 of mine from WIlliams Sonoma outlet for around $10~11 each. http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com has the all stainless steel version for $13 each shipped.
What can a microplane do that my tiny mini-grater can't do? I use it for ginger, garlic, lemon and other citrus zest. Not sure there's anything I would want grated that it can't do, but please clue me in on what else you're using your microplanes for.
The other thing (well, set of things) is my Wonder Shredder set. My mother was given a set when she got married in the mid-50s. She found me a set at a yard sale in the 1980s. Three terrific, very sharp graters (they next in a drawer) -- small holes, medium holes and very large holes! They're the best.
Nothing. I only used to feel that it's quicker, safer, and easier to use my knife for these tasks than to use a traditional grater. There was no way I could have used that grater for chocolate shavings and make home made hot chocolate, my arms would break before then. Have you tried using it to grate nutmeg and Parmesan cheese?
Granted I have 3 graters of different sizes and I use them for different things. I use the extra course one for mozzarella and other soft cheese, carrots, potatoes, squash, veggie fillings for dumplings, chocolate flakes for hot chocolate... The medium one for hard cheese, chocolate dusting on desserts... The fine one for zest, ginger, and garlic. I am planning to add more varieties into my collection in the future.
I feel that it is much safer to use, because it is so sharp that I don't really need to use much force on it. I can literally grate the whole carrot without leaving a small piece behind or getting myself grated also.
The "flakes" and "dusts" that comes out from the grater are so uniform and beautiful too.
The idea of microplane graters for the OP comes from a person who used to have a traditional grater and have seen the difference in performance between that and the microplanes. Or I could just be using the crappiest regular grater ever. Good for you that you have someone who do treasure hunting in yard-sales 30 years ago. If you know where and how to get a set, please share.
I use my tiny non-microplane grater for zest, garlic, ginger and chocolate, and yes, nutmeg. I tend to grate a whole bunch of parmesan at once, so I use a larger grater for that. I got my small one a while before microplanes were on the scene, but it's the same idea. It's a small (3 x 6) grater with a handle that I use for every small grating need. Amazingly, it has remained sharp for the most part, although I'm noticing that the center holes are no longer as sharp as the ones around the edge.
Before getting the small grater and my set of WonderShredders, I burned through a bunch of those truly terrible supermarket box graters that do nothing but shred fingers. I hate those!
I just did a search and found one size of a WonderShredder for sale on the web. This site says they're from the 1930s. From the picture it looks like this is the medium-holed grater.
This next one (described as an "antique") is the largest-holed one, I think. The site adds that there was a cookbook that went along with these.
Anyway, these are what live in my drawer and I couldn't do without them!
You know what? I was thinking about my Wonder Shredders and after finding them on the web, just ordered a set of three (one from one place and two from another) to give my college-aged daughter when she sets up her own kitchen. So thanks for the prompt. And I will also buy her a microplane!!!
Harters, When you use your microplane, where does the non-handled short end go? I have a hard time using the microplane because I want to rest that end on something, but usually I can't do that because the microplane is so short, I can't lean the end on my cutting board, because if I did, I'd miss the dish I was trying to grate something into.
I am the only person I've ever heard of who doesn't think the microplane is the best kitchen tool in the world. But I don't. I find it awkward and messy.
re: Jay F
I hold on the handle and lean the other end on a cutting board or any flat surface. More of less like the following picture:
I am not sure what you mean by " I can't lean the end on my cutting board, because if I did, I'd miss the dish I was trying to grate something into."
CK - I frequently want to grate parmigiano-reggiano straight into the pasta bowl I'm going to be eating from. To do that, I'd like to hold the grater parallel to the bowl and the cutting board. This precludes my being able to rest the end of the microplane on anything. I find this to be tremendously awkward. I get cheese on the pasta, on the bowl, on the cutting board.
It's the same thing when I'm grating lemon peel into a bowl. I can't rest the end on anything, and I find this awkward.
I was sure I'd seen people (Ina?) just holding it out perpendicular to their body/parallel to the counter, and grating stuff that way.
I guess the thing to do is lean the end on the cutting board or the counter, but I could be doing that with my box grater.
re: Jay F
re: Jay F
I have egg-shaped mis en place bowls in various sizes. One is the perfect size for use with my Microplane Pro grater. I hook the loop at the far end of the grater over the "beak" of the bowl, press the near end of the grater down firmly onto the rim opposite the beak, and happily grate everything into the bowl. Easy and no mess, even for those without superhuman dexterity.
They look kind of like this (only a bit more pointy):
I am assuming that what you need here is a basic starter kit,, not what we all would like to have eventually.
1. Knives--8 inch chef's knife
2. Paring knife
3. Vegetable cutting knife--i.e., a Santoku knife, which can be used for many other utilitarian purposes. That's it!
4. Cutting board. Get one made out of wood. Get one made out of plastic. The larger the better. (And yes, dear reader, I know that that is a sentence fragment!) The wood one is for everything except meat. The plastic one is for cutting meat. Keep them separate.
5. A box grater with four sides, with different grating widths. Go high scale on this. Don't buy one of the cheap ones.
6. (Many people will disagree with me on this.) Buy a garlic press, preferably, the Xyliss brand from Switzerland. If your don't buy a Xyliss, make sure the press where you put the garlic has four sides, not three. Without four sides, it won't press the garlic, but rather, "squoosh" (i.e. "mangle") the garlic. Sure, you can chop garlic with your knives, but a garlic press will integrate your garlic into the recipe better than any knife. Anthony Bourdain, one of my heroes, will disagree a with me on this, but I think that garlic press is essential. He doesn't. He knows a lot more about cooking than I do, but he is a professional cook, not an amateur like me, which brings me a lot closer to you.
6. 1 quart souffle dish.
7. 1 quart Pyrex measuring container.
8. 12 inch non-stick frying pan. Buy the expensive one. It will last longer, but throw it out after two years, even though it will break your heart. Buy a new one. One it starts losing its non-stick qualities, it is time to say goodbye.
9. 8 inch non-stick frying pan. Ditto the above.
10. 2 or 3 quart stainless steel sauce pan.
11. 4 quart stainless steel sauce pan.
12. 8 quart stainless steel sauce container.
13. 10 quart or larger stainless steel pan. (You want to be able to boil water for spaghetti or other pasta in this container.)
14. Food processor, at least 11 quart container. I like Cuisineart, but there are many worthy models on the market.
15. Mixer--Kitchen Aid leads the field and has the most attachments (such as a pasta maker or an ice cream maker, etc.) Get a bread making hook and a regular beater or beaters. These usually come included in the box, but check.
16. Blender--Many people will tell you that you don't need a blender, if you have a food processor. This is sort of true, since you can do what you need to do adequately in a food processor, but a food processor is too thorough and too difficult to control, and for more liquid ingredients, drinks and sauces especially, a blender is much better. Leading models are Kitchen Aid and Cuisineart, which have a wider base and incorporate ingredients more fully. Back in the "old" days, narrow-based (i.e., the bottom) blenders forced ingredients back into the bottom of the blender more fully, but more powerful motors are now available, so a narrow base is not necessary. Narrow bottom blenders tended to liquify the ingredients at the bottom, but leave ingredients higher up untouched, without the help of shutting off the blender momentarily, and an intervening spatula. I have a narrow bottom blender (bought back in the"old" days), a Waring, but this is not what I woud recommend for you.)
17. Round kitchen screen for placement on top of frying pans to prevent having to wash every horizontal surface in the kitchen as grease lands on these surfaces.
I hope that this helps.
Kitchenaid mixer. You won't learn to bake unless you have one. So many cooks can't bake. Don't be one of them.
AllClad fry pan, you must have a good stainless fry pan, not so big that it won't fit on your stove burner
enamel cast iron dutch oven, large enough to roast 2 chickens or a pork shoulder
edit: pasta maker, either freestanding or Kitchenaid attachment
"Kitchenaid mixer. You won't learn to bake unless you have one. So many cooks can't bake. Don't be one of them." What an incredibly condescending comment! Just because YOU can't bake without one don't assume others can't. They take up a lot of room and are absolutely unnecessary. Unless you're arms don't work you can stir, beat, knead just fine without a mixer, whether handheld or stand-type. I bake desserts and make bread and pizza dough all of the time, poor little me--all without a precious Kitchenaid.
I would not call it a mush have, but I love my Kitchenaid, and I don't really bake. It is great for mashed potatoes, whipped cream, and all sorts of simple doughs that you want to mix while you are off doing other things. Of course I can make the same things without it. I have been hand whipping whipped cream for years before I bought it. I just like the convenience.
I don't doubt anything you say, OCS. I'm sure a KA is great for those with the space and the desire to spend money on it. And I know you can get some great attachments for it as well. But for the poster that said you can't bake without one and it's a must have--simply ridiculous.
I understand where runwestierun is coming from. I started baking about 2 years ago and people are very pleased with what I've made. I have a KA stand mixer and also a hand-mixer, but use the stand mixer for all my baking needs.
I feel that to make really top-notch products, a stand mixer is a must-have as it cuts down on prep time. A good example is creaming butter and sugar. You can accomplish this by hand, but it could take a good 10-15 minutes to get the right consistency. Some people may think creaming is not necessary, but it makes an impact on the final product. The same goes for meringues as well as other tasks that require considerable elbow grease.
For me, a stand mixer is a great investment as it encourages me to make things I would not ordinarily make due to the required effort. It can be considered lazy, but baking is something I would rather enjoy than dread.
Must have? Maybe not. I did without one for twenty of my cooking years as an adult.
Then I found a reconditioned one at a price that screamed "Buy me" so I did. Dear Lord. It's wonderful. I've now been using it for twenty two years (it has been that long) and I can bake much greater cakes, and I can do bread that I couldn't do otherwise.
The O.P. is young, and has lots of years to learn. But I really wish I'd had the serious mixer from the get go, because it would have made the learning happen easier. And the enthusiasm would have come faster as well.
The other thing....we all, if we're lucky, grow older. At a certain point, our hands get a bit stiffer, and labor saving devices become necessary. A good, doesn't have to be held mixer is one of them.
Good knives. I have CUTCO. They have the "Forever Guarantee" replace and sharpen. Don't have to buy the whole set. http://www.cutco.com/home.jsp
Non-stick saute' pan
Go to one of those outlets that sell all the little stuff you need, like a peeler, opener, etc.. http://www.oxo.com/oxoHome.jsp
Of course it will take several years to build up all the stuff you need.
I'd get one good, heavy cast iron pan, and learn how to take proper care of it. I also might want one nonstick fry pan for things like eggs. Even though your cast iron pan could work for eggs if you get it well seasoned. I LOVE a silicone "rubber" spatula. The silicone can withstand high heat, so you can use it in a blazing hot pan. A couple of good knives too. I use unglazed clay tlles for a pizza stone and they work great. At least in CA, you can get 12 inch "saltillos" for less than 2 bucks each. Even if, and when they crack, it's usually a couple of big pieces, which you can still use.
Yes on the silicone spatula but go one further and get one that is all one piece. I love mine!! I have one that is a siilicone spatula set on a stainless handle and I don't like it. You get gunk stuck where it fits into the handle and sometimes the handle comes right off when stiring a stiff dough. I paid $20 for it!! My favs are all one piece of silicone with metal inside to make the handle siff - you can use either end too.
Plus I love my zester. I used the side of my kitchen grater for years until I used my Mum's zester - no white bits at all!! Really zests beautifully.
When I was about your age a neighbor who was about my age gave me this advice: "You can't afford cheap tools." He was referring to wrenches, screwdrivers, etc., but the same advice applies here. But you don't have to spend lots to get decent quality "cooking tools."
A good digital thermometer is a must. A reasonably priced one (less than $20) with a wide range and fast response time is a CDN Pro Accurate Quick-Read DTQ450X.
I have had one like this for several years and have found it to be fast and accurate.
I also caution you NOT to buy a large knife set. You only nee about three or four knives to start with. Forchner knives are highly rated by Cooks Illustrated. This three-piece set is a good starter with good customer reviews:
You might also want to add a serrated bread knife to the set.
The same advice goes for cookware. You will get lots of advice on what you "must have" but a set is not necessary. Buy pieces as you need them.
A good kitchen timer and a digital scale are good to have also. I am partial to My Weigh scales, and the 7001DX in particular. The scale has a 15# capacity and is less than $35 from Old Will Knot
That's my list. Continue to ask questions here as they come up. There are no dumb questions, and there are lots of people always willing to help. Good luck and happy cooking.
re: al b. darned
I was going to say the same thing. Don't waste money on cheap stuff you are going to have to replace. Buy the est you can afford even it means stretching a bit. Good knives definitely a must. You don't have to break the bank. Forschners and Macs are found in professional kitchens and take an edge well. Check out thrift shops, garage, moving sales etc. I picked up one of my favorite cast iron skillets at a trhift shop. It was gunked up with old burnt on grease. I ran it through the self cleaning cycle and then reseasoned it. It would now be pricy in an antiques shop. It is a very old Wagner skillet.
Buy a good quality enameled Dutch Oven. Indispensible for braises, stews, chili, etc. A kitchen-aid or other standing type mixer and a food processor are really handy, too. I would also try to find a cast iron skillet, preferably used and loved (and seasoned...) @ a garage or tag sale. Have fun!! adam
The most used thing in my kitchen other than my stove is my IPOD Docking Station, I must have music playing while cooking! ;)
Other than that, my Knives...I must have good knives ...Wusthof knives are my favorite, please do not buy cheap knoves, spend the money.
Another handy dandy gadget my husband can not live without is his Garlic Press, he loves that darn thing. As for the cheapest, I live ib Bermuda, there is NOTHING cheap here, so I am unable to help in that area.
As you start to cook and discover what you can do in the kitchen and what you enjoy cooking you will know more and more what you need...
The main "stuff" I have are knives. I like a good mid-range Sabatier which I buy from John Lewis (which may be not at all a useful source for you unless you live in the UK). I also wouldnt be without my Y peeler - there everywhere and even good ones (like Good Grips) are cheap as chips.
I also have a great collection of "stuff" that I thought would be really useful gadgets. They now live at the back of the cupboard - at least I think they are still there.