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A Chowhound trying to cook in a "Bachelor's Kitchen"

I met a very nice man, and decided I would make him dinner at his house. But there arose a problem, this man had a decrepit frying pan, and a toaster.... thats it.

I stood there, all the ingredients I need to make him a wonderful dinner, and he did not even have a tin foil baking dish, or a saucepan! Don't even ask if he has a wisk, He has 4 forks and a plastic spoon for coffee that he probably got with his last dunkin donuts cup! Oh and for spices, he has a salt shaker.

yeah.. see the picture? I made what I could under the circumstances, and the next time I made him dinner I brought half my kitchen... lol

Tell me Chowhounds, Is this how all bachelors live? One frying pan and a salt shaker? (BTW he is 40 and never married)

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    1. re: c oliver

      Absolutely right. Has been 23 years since I've had that kind of kitchen but even then, of course not. & I'm not 63...

    2. What did you do? Were you able to prepare the meal? Did he like it?

      If I recollect, we didn't have all that kitchen equipment as students but still managed to put out some decent meals.

      5 Replies
      1. re: pdxgastro

        Yeah, what did you make?

        You don't need a lot of cookware to make a simple, decent meal. Maybe you could get him a soup pot, cleaver, ladle, spatula, and cutting board in addition to his frying pan. That's all I have in my dormitory kitchen and I regularly cook for my friends. The only huge drawback to my kitchen is the induction stove... hate that thing.

        1. re: pdxgastro

          I made him shepard's pie, cooking the potatoes and the meat in shifts, then warming them together with the corn in the microwave. It was actually very good but it took forever to mash the potatoes with a fork.

          1. re: gryphonskeeper

            Just a shout out for "making do" - next time, if there is one, use a wine bottle to crush the potatoes before you mash them.

              1. re: mamachef

                I recall having used wine bottles for many things, from crushing nuts, garlic and peppercorns, to rolling dough!

          2. I rather thought that burners, an oven, and microwave were standard.

            He should not have allowed you to make dinner for him.

            I am very lucky that my bf's kitchen, though short on good frying pans, does have all sorts of implements, such as potato masher, whisks, spatulas, etc. I still carry my own knife bag with knives, peeler, and Microplane.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jaykayen

              I don't think he realized what was needed to cook a meal. His refrigerator was stocked with ketchup and take out boxes.

              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                I see you have not been deterred and will go back! You are a brave one, gryphon's keeper...

                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                  no no no, a bachelor's refrigerator should always have beer and oreos. he does need help.

              2. My SO's kitchen was marginally better when we met. I made many thrift store purchases for Corning ware, etc. Also gave a few gifts of nice knives, decent pans (Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons came in handy!). Now, 4 years later in a combined household we have many duplicates!

                I have met singles of both sexes who loved food but simply were not into cooking. When they did eat something other than take-out or leftovers at home it was a sandwich or eggs...
                I don't get it, but it isn't that uncommon.

                Sometimes people simply haven't used good tools enough to see the benefit in having them. Once they use a good pan or knife a bit they gain appreciation for its superior handling.

                I'm happy for you - enjoy the journey!

                5 Replies
                1. re: meatn3

                  Yeah he is by no means a cook. Heat and Eat is how he has lived for many years. he is an artist and lives very simple life. Sweet man. I did what you did, I bought a bunch of essentials at a discount store.

                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                    There's something to be said for living a simple life, free of material items. Imagine if you lived in one of those tiny-houses that everyone is talking about now.

                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                      I'm an artist and live a very simple life, but basic cooking tools are essential. Many good items can be found at church bazaars and charity shops. And others are useful in artistic pursuits as well.

                      I have met people like that, not all of them men, and not all of them poorish by any means. On the contrary, truly poor people can't afford takeaway.

                      Graydon, lots of people can pare down and downsize, but this has nothing to do with useless "stuff". You can cook a decent meal in a tiny house, or in a Parisian or NYC tiny galley kitchen. But you need a few tools and some cookware.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        Jack Kerouac, the author of On the Road, said, "If you own a rug, you own too much", a motto for a generation for whom "beating it" was a moral necessity.

                        I once knew a nomadic type guy who said he changed his ways after he realized one day how many pairs of sissors he had bought over his lifetime. He now drives a Corvette.

                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          Oh dear. I do prefer my old Raleigh Sprite.

                  2. Absolutely not! I didn't marry until I was 54 (OK, we moved in together when I was 51) and I maintained - and made very good use of - a gourmet kitchen from the time I was in my mid 20s until then. In fact, the main reason I moved into my first solo (no roommates) apartment was that I was doing a lot of cooking and wanted to have complete control over the kitchen and who showed up at my dinner table.

                    When my now-wife and I did move in together, we had our biggest-ever fight over whose kitchenware we kept (in the end, mostly mine - she loves to cook too but I had better-quality pans etc). The one thing we could not agree to compromise on was knives; to this day we have two sets, mine to the left of the stove and hers to the right. Knives are very personal things.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: BobB

                      ha I love the separate knives idea.

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        We also have separate knives and I think that makes the kitchen big enough for both of us! Before I came into the picture, my MIL gave my husband cooking classes when he turned 35 - 16 weeks of classes to learn all the basics. Let me say, I think this should be a standard gift for all kids when they graduate from college. He met some great local chefs and learned to feed himself. And acquired some toys along the way, I'm sure!

                        1. re: vstock

                          Mrs CHM and I have had several "disagreements" about my knives. She insisted on running them through the dishwasher. At one point she said she was just going to get her own. She came home very proud of herself with a butcher block set. She said she paid 20 bucks for a set of 5 knives plus the steak knives. And that they were dishwasher safe, so that meant they are better quality than mine.

                          She quickly found that they couldn't cut softened butter and she now takes much better care of mine.

                          1. re: chileheadmike

                            Now why wouldn't you run your knives through the dishwasher? Are they fragile? Are they prone to rust?

                            1. re: jameshig

                              PLEASE do NOT start that conversation :) Those knife people are up (or out) there with the BBQ people. They'll argue til you agree or just collapse from the pain of it all! Do a search here if you want a taste. It gets quite noisy.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Heh heh, I'm a BBQ people too.

                                I do not put my knives in the dishwasher. First chef I worked for would fire you for that. Dulls the blade and is not good for the wooden handle.

                                Shall we talk about boiling ribs?

                                1. re: chileheadmike

                                  Yes! Boil them in a cast iron pot! And then cut them apart with the knife you just took out of the dishwasher and sharpened with an Accusharp!

                                  *sits back to watch the sparks fly*

                                2. re: c oliver

                                  I don't bother even cleaning a knife now if I use it. If i so much as touch it I know the SO will be out there later sharpening it. That said we don't argue about knives, and he actually loves my ancient carbon steel knives because they ALWAYS want to be sharpened. So I use it, put it by the side of the sink and the knife fairy will come clean it and lovingly sharpen it. and then the next morning I get to pick up all the knife sharpening crap all over the counters and put it away. It works for us.

                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                    Sounds like a good marriage to me!

                                  2. re: c oliver

                                    ]Those knife people are up (or out) there with the BBQ people. They'll argue til you agree or just collapse

                                    Hell yeah, we will.
                                    Got something to say about it? (puts hand on knife)

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      That's funny. :-D I will not put my knives or pots and pans in the dishwasher for a few reasons. I use them so often that I don't want to wait for the dishwasher to be full before starting the cycle. Plus I cook so much during the day and have a lot of specialty cookware that I just wash it as I go. Culinary school teaching still looms in my mind as well. It is true that it dulls blades but I won't go there!

                            2. re: BobB

                              My wife and I have his and her's cutting boards. I cringed every time she reached for my cutting board (since I never cut meat on it). Finally I just bought her one of her own ha ha.

                            3. Most of the guys I dated, their kitchens were similarly ill equipped, and usually also incredibly filthy. Smelly, colorful inside of the microwave, dried jelly sticking on the floor, it's unbelievable. They live on takeout and ramen, I think.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                And the ladies I dated all had houses smelling of cat funk, and didn't have the proper tools around to fix a leaky faucet ;)

                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                  Yes. I think gender stereotyping just shows how silly we all can be. I know a woman who built an entire addition to her house and has a rotten kitchen.

                                    1. re: jesoda

                                      Of course not ALL ladies, just having fun with the gender stereotyping as c oliver suggested. Some girls had ALL the RIGHT tools!

                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                        Less often did the men have all the right tools:)

                                    2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      I've lived in apartments almost all my adult life; no need for tools for a leaky anything, I call the super for that.

                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                        Wasn't that a line in movie, something to the effect that there are those who know how to fix things, and those who know who to call. A little survival of the fittest, kinda too. Getrdone

                                    3. re: rockandroller1

                                      This mans house is impeccable. The floors and counters were all spotless. He has a cat, and 2 birds (parrots) and you would never know by the look of the house. One thing for sure, what he does own, it spotless and perfect.

                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                        Just sounds like cooking is not an area where he has wanted to expend energy. Bet he is an enthusiastic eater of your endeavors!

                                        Hope the birds adjust, sometimes they can get very jealous of someone new in their persons life.

                                    4. My boyfriend, who is actually an EXCELLENT cook, has a HUGE kitchen FILLED with tools...but everything sucks. He has a rotating cast of 5 room-mates, and therefor has a ton of duplicates and a lot of stuff people have left when they've moved out. He's got about 60 pots and pans, all are warped and scratched and without lids. Probably 40 knives, all are too dull to cut a tomato. Tons of "gadgets" like blenders/processors...all of which are missing parts or are cracked or mostly broken. Plus, everything has been cleaned with minimum effort, so we always have to rewash everything before use.
                                      My apt, in contrast, is just mine and has a TINY studio kitchen with almost NOTHING, but my few knives are sharp, my gadgets work and all my pots have lids (even though there's only 3 pots and 3 saucepans) and my dishes are clean.

                                      Luckily, he is actually a very good dishwasher and an excellent cook so when we do get things together, its great. And his apt has a crazy spice shelf (due to his Puerto Rican heritage) so that sort of makes up for it- I make for a cleaner space, but his beans and rice makes it worth all the extra scrubbing.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: CarmenR

                                        Spices and Puerto Rican cuisine don't mix. I LIVED there for over 3 years and couldn't get over how bland the food was! I asked a PR friend about it and she got sort of huffy - said something along the lines of "We're not MEXICANS, you know!"

                                        Just sayin'. The spices may not be an outgrowth of his PR heritage.

                                        I did learn to love pulpo though. If only I could get over my fear of cooking octopi . . . .

                                          1. re: c oliver


                                            Startled me there. Had to go back and re-read my own posting to put it back in context, LOL!

                                      2. My brother and SIL have a kitchen like this. I knew my brother couldn't cook but didn't think SIL was the same. Last time I was visiting, I wanted to make them dinner but couldn't. I opened the fridge - it had bottled water, packets of ketchup and mustard from McD's, some pepsi and a random jar of pickles. The freezer had microwaveable tamales and burritos. They did not have eggs, flour, butter nor pepper and salt except for the little sachets you get at restaurants. Cooking equipment consisted of 1 pot and 1 skillet both from my mom and a few battered wooden cooking spoons. It seems SIL's mom is a good cook so they go over for Sunday dinner, she gives them extra/leftovers to last until Wed and then they get takeaway the rest of the week until it's time for Sunday dinner again. No sign of any fresh fruit or vegetables! I was horrified.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: SeoulQueen

                                          Don't be horrified. It suits them. They may be horrified when they are in your kitchen :)

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            I'm horrified because they have a 3 yr old daughter who eats the same cr*p they do. SHe doesn't seem to know about fresh fruit or veg. Last time I went for a visit, I fed her some bananas ... she'd never had them before!?

                                            Naw, my brother and SIL wouldn't be horrified, they'd be far too scared ...I've built up a good collection of knives! :)

                                            1. re: SeoulQueen

                                              I was a child of the 50s and 99.9% of the vegetables I ate either came from a can or were painfully overcooked as the South loved to do. I'm 63 now so I made it through the abuse and also learned to make my own choices. I also TRY (don't always succeed) to not be horrified by how others raise their own children.

                                        2. Quite frankly, if you can afford to live on your own you can afford to put together a servicable kitchen. When I moved out of my parents house and into my own place about five years ago I spent no more than a couple hundred bucks and was able to get a not particularly fancy, but still respectable set of stainless steel pans (which remain in regular use today,) most of the utensils I use regularly, a surprisingly good set of forged knives for only $25 from Ross (still use these too, but they're badly in need of sharpening now and I've also added a Henckels or two,) plus a good silverware set and a so-so tableware set. I've accumulated a few small appliances over time too, and have put together what I'd like to think is a pretty decent kitchen.

                                          Oddly enough, a number of the women I know don't seem to do much cooking...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Vexorg

                                            Oddly enough, a number of the women I know don't seem to do much cooking...
                                            wow, sexist much?

                                            and from what gryphonskeeper said, it sounds as though this man doesn't cook *at all*...so even if he can "afford to put together a servicable [sic] kitchen" he was probably never compelled to do so.

                                          2. It's not just bachelors. I bring a box of cooking equipment any time I plan on doing any serious cooking over any someone's help. This includes my knife wrap, a couple of pans, and select ingredients based on what I'm going to cook.

                                            1. If my partner and I split up, I have no doubt the majority of his meals would either be taken in restaurants or as takeout. Like 90%.

                                              However, I don't think this is gender-specific; I know plenty of women who don't cook at all. And frankly, I've bought gadgets for betrothed couples off registries that I doubt have ever seen the light of day.

                                              1. I think there are some people (both men and women) who just have no interest in cooking whatsoever. Most of my bachelor friends really love to cook and have well-equipped kitchens.

                                                1. I'm 48, female, and was married from age 19 to 25. My ex-husband didn't care about food so I could put anything down on the table and he'd eat it. After the divorce my boyfriend was a true foodie. The first time he visited my apartment he gave me a shopping list. I still didn't really cook, but he would either cook or we'd eat out and I'd get all the leftovers. When I bought a condo I used to joke that my cleaning lady just had to dust the stove. Seriously, I never/rarely used it. My refrigerator was full of condiments and take out boxes.

                                                  Somewhere in my mid to late 30's I realized that I needed to learn how to cook. I couldn't afford to eat out.

                                                  I now have my All Clad, my good knives, and could do a formal dinner party for 12. Not that I know 12 people I'd really enjoy feeding.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Obviously, many of the bachelors on this site can cook.

                                                    One of my friends didn't have salt, pepper, or any sort of oil in his pantry. It's been an interesting process watching him learn about eating food (note: eating, not cooking). Luckily, he now has two roommates who drown him in good food and want to buy every kitchen gadget possible. He hasn't eaten this well since he lived with his mother. He appreciates good tasting food but will exert absolutely NO effort beyond a credit card to obtain it.

                                                    Another friend was starting to get into cooking and then moved to New York City. He hasn't cooked since, not once, not one meal in many years. I bought him ice cube trays when I visited.

                                                    1. The first time I tried to cook in my boyfriend's apartment (now husband) was not that bad except for the quality of his pots and pans and knives... They were all paper thin and his knives were all serrated And his pepper! It was one of those plastic pepper shakers! The first gift I gave him was a good ole wooden pepper grinder! He only had vegetable oil and margarine and chili powder for condiments. After that we didi all our cooking here!

                                                      1. As Jerry Seinfeld once described them, bachelors live like bears with furniture.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. Definitely not the way all of them live. I have a friend that is 25 that has his own house but is basically only there on the weekends because he travels so much for work. The last time I was there, we were going to make some easy peanut butter bars. He had no food in the fridge but he had every utensil and baking implement that I need and then some. Like he had 3 sets of measuring cups and like 2 or 3 pyrex dishes. Sorta ironic of a guy that is never home.

                                                          1. A Man, a Can, a Plan : 50 Great Guy Meals Even You Can Make might help http://www.amazon.com/Man-Can-Plan-Gr...

                                                            1. Make Chinese stir-fry!

                                                              My DH would have lived like that. Many others wouldn't. :-)

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Henny Penny

                                                                I'm surprised you never asked the question--what can I cook in a kitchen like this?

                                                                Shepherd's pie sounds like a serious hassle, but you could do steak (in the frying pan), fresh corn (in the microwave), a big salad, and berries and cream.

                                                                Or chicken marsala (in the frying pan), rice (in the microwave)and an antipasto platter with marinated artichoke hearts, olives, red peppers.

                                                                Might be fun to think up ten other delicious, workable meals you could do with no more cookware than he started out with. A roll of aluminum foil works wonders for ad hoc oven or toaster oven cooking.

                                                              2. I would say to some degree, yes, all bachelors have some basic and fudamental tools for cooking. Also, condiments and sauces but no real sustenance to make a meal with, just things to spice them up once they magically appear.