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Starting from Scratch-- Must haves!!

As of today I have not one pot, pan, knife, blender, etc.... As I am relocating I am also disgaurding my college years half off dollar store pots/pans etc.!!!!

Now, where to start? I am in my mid 20's and as I do cook, I am not in the kitchen every day. I am looking for the "must haves" for any starter kitchen... Is it worth buying a pre packaged bundle or piece by piece.? Any suggestions

This post can cover anything from kitchen appliances , gidgets, pots, dishes etc. as long as it is practical and you love it!!!

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  1. Piece by piece. Start with a good knife.

    16 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      Any suggestions on what kind brand?

      E_M hahaha as long as my roomates or G/f doesnt touch anythign I will ok with out it

      1. re: Augie6

        You have to shop for the knife that's best for you. The most common suggestions are the 8" chef's or a santoku (as mentioned already by LovinSpoonful), neither of which I own but that's personal preference.

        The fire extinguisher is a good idea just in case some of the cooking ideas go awry (or you can spray your flatmates).

        1. re: wattacetti

          "neither of which I own "

          What do you have Wattacetti?

        2. re: Augie6

          Augie6, I am going to break from the crowd here and recommend a non-chef's knife. Here's why. You are building a collection, I understand, and you want to buy only those pieces that will still be treasured when the collection is done. The reason many recommend a chef's knife is that it is thought to be the jack-of-all-trades, good at many tasks. But, once you have six or eight knives, you will find yourself more and more selecting the tool that is specific to the task, and the jack-of-all-trades knife will less and less be used.

          Now, let me take the other side of the argument I just made. I use about nine knives specific to the task (some more, some less, than others, obviously), and my spouse could choose any of those knives (I do not protect them or hog them) for the same kinds of tasks that I choose them for; but my spouse uses one knife, the same knife, for everything except cutting large melons and large squashes; for 90-95 percent of the time a knife is needed, a 6' utility knife is the one my spouse chooses.

          And that is not irrational: a 6" utility knife (sometimes called a "petty knife") is just right for tomato and small vegetable slicing, and for dicing garlic and onions; it can even substitute for a paring knife. Peeling apples or oranges? You don't want the weight or broad blade of a chef's knife then. And even when you have collected your full complement of knives, you will reach for the 6" utility knife when you peel an apple.

          Your first keep-it-for-life knife? One that can do many tasks now, but which evolves to be a specialty task knife as you add more knives alongside it. This is the one I would recommend: http://cgi.ebay.com/Solicut-Stainless... (Solicut used to be called Eberhard Schaaf; you may find some reviews of the knife under the Eberhard Schaaf name.) The balance is unmatched, and it takes an excellent edge.

          1. re: Politeness

            Re: Politeness' opinion, I am lucky that my spouse, too, prefers a "utility" blade. I consider it lucky, because it guarantees that she keeps her hands off of the knives that I actually use. If she were to break, chip or lose the utility knife, I would be sad, because it would mean I would have to buy her another knife that is IMO about 95% worthless.

            Start with a chef, a parer and a bread knife and you will not be sorry. Start with a "utility" knife, and the (later) day you buy a good chef's knife, you'll wonder: Why did I bother with this useless thing?

            1. re: kaleokahu

              "I would be sad, because it would mean I would have to buy her another knife that is IMO about 95% worthless."

              Kaleo. You cannot think like that. The utility knife protects the rest of your other knives. It is your first line of defense. It is like a fainting goat:

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_3Utm...

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Chem: That's a great point. I've always considered that profile to be more like a knife decoy, or an inflatable tank used to fool satellites.

                That is a funny vid, but I'm not getting the connection between knives and narcolepsy. I had a frat brother who was (is?) narcoleptic, and he was basically immunized from any discipline. Funny and very convenient!

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  I am sorry about your frat brother.

                  As for the fainting goat, legend has it that the fainting goats was raised to protect other farm stocks during wolves attack. When wolves attack the herd, a few fainting goats will just drop while other animals run for safety. All the wolves will just focus on the fainting goats. If there is no fainting goat, then all the animals will run and the wolves may diverge the attacks and kill many more animals -- since there is not an obviously weak one.

                  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jimkna...

                  Is the legend real? Some disagree, but it is certain a wide spread legend. Therefore, your utility knife is a fainting goat -- protecting your other knives.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Chem: Thanks for the explanation. I took too many classes away from genetics to know much about it, but I seem to remember that the genes for narcolepsy can be selected; I had a Psych professor who is a sleep scientist, and he bred poodles for this very trait. So the legend may make some sense.

                    Are you saying my utility knife should be left out, in front of the block?

                    My frat brother was a hoot; most of the manifestations of his narcolepsy were hilarious. One quarter I roomed with him *and* another student who suffered from elaborate-dream sleepwalking. I would sometimes return to our room finding the latter screaming about "Run for your life, I'm defusing this BOMB!" and the former out cold (sober). I miss college sometimes!

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      kaleo. I missed college too, but I don't remember mine was so crazy. ha.

              2. re: kaleokahu

                Chef, paring, and bread knives are those I have and use. In fact, I don't own any others. I do like to have several paring knives. I use them for pill splitting, hulling strawberries, chopping scallions, cheese, etc. I frequently want a fresh one for the next task. I have one paring knife with what I think is called a bird's beak blade ... it's particularly good for slicing scallions on a cutting board and not sending the little discs flying.

              3. re: Politeness

                Politeness, what is your wife's rationale for reaching for the utility knife (e.g., to pare an apple) most of the time when she has other more specialized knife (e.g., a paring knife) at her disposal? I.e., how would she counter your perspective re: having different knives for different purposes -- does she think it's more convenient just to use the same knife, or does she think the utility knife does the best job 90% of the time? Or for some other reason altogether?

                Thanks!

                1. re: iyc_nyc

                  iyc_nyc: "... what is your wife's rationale ..."

                  You assume that my spouse is a wife and that I am her husband. Consider the possibility that my spouse is my husband and I am his wife.

                  My spouse is very, very comfortable with that knife. (It is a full-bolster forged, but never was especially expensive, knife made in Brazil. The blade is not super hard, but takes a wicked edge and responds well to a steel.) My spouse believes that there is no cause or reason to reach for another knife when the utility knife is so well suited to the tasks it is asked to perform.

                  There is no knife in our collection that I find equally bonded to, so I use a long chef's knife for some tasks, a slender long filleting knife for another, a short rather sturdy Edgecraft (with very hard steel) chef's knife for another, an Eberhard Schaaf 7" Kullenschliff knife for another, a small Henkels paring knife for another, etc. But I must admit that my favorite knife among all of those -- the one knife of the collection that I reach for most often -- is the 7" Eberhard Schaaf Goldhamster that is the one knife that is closest in size and shape to the Brazilian knife that my spouse favors.

                  1. re: Politeness

                    Ahh, thanks. And have no idea why I assumed you were the husband -- truly sorry about that. :-)

                    1. re: Politeness

                      That's okay. Mine actually reaches for the steak knives when he has to cut something. If I put it in front of him, he will use a six inch serrated utility knife -- which is basically a better steak knife. Maybe my supersharp big knives are intimidating, who knows. Go figure.

              4. re: wattacetti

                Agree with Wattacetti. An average to above average cutting board is good too.

                1. re: E_M

                  LMAO. That is the funniest thing I have seen here ever I think :D

                  1. re: LovinSpoonful

                    I doubt that E_M was intending that to be a joke. I certainly have one in my kitchen.

                2. I would actually consider a smaller set. One that comes with a frying pan, a saute pan, a stock pot, and a sauce pan, and a few lids.

                  This actually looks like a really good candidate. I have heard good stuff about this line and you can't go wrong with this price:
                  http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-Nonst...

                  I would add the following:
                  8" chef's knife or santoku
                  cheap paring knife
                  short and medium Edlund tongs
                  assortment of wooden spoons
                  slotted spoon
                  plastic spatula
                  cheap baking sheet.
                  cheap roasting pan

                  I think that would be a good base to work from. I'm trying to think of the 80/20 rule...that 80% of your cooking is done with 20% of your tools.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LovinSpoonful

                    I'd probably get the tramntina set based on th cooks illustrated must have list. It's online at walmart. I love le creuset silicone tools and recommend them.

                    1. re: LovinSpoonful

                      If you can afford it I would replace the plastic spatula in this list with a heatproof silicon spatula. If you eat eggs you won't be able to live without it.

                    2. Get a decent cutting board/block and a few of the flexible cutting sheets so that you can keep meat and chicken cross contamination to a minimum.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KatoK

                        Do a search for "Mark Bittman' NYT He has a great video on kitchen essentials.

                      2. I'd suggest to buy individual knives and pans, avoid the sets as they generally have items that you'll seldom use. Some examples; get a good saute pan, santoku knife and a roasting pan with a v-rack.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cstr

                          I have a 2nd home, so needed to start from scratch too. The All-Clad 10 piece sets pretty much have the exact set of pots I have bought 1 by 1 over time in my first house... It really depends on what you cook. And how much you want to spend up front.

                          1. re: firecooked

                            We have a second home also and will do a complete tear-down, gut of the kitchen and dining area. I'll be replacing a dreadful electric coil cooktop with induction. The Circulon set that I got at Costco for the first induction suits me to a tee (with some cast iron pieces also) so I'll be buying another set. I don't "get" knife sets but nowadays it seems like cookware is hitting the right notes.
                            BTW, my set only cost $200!