HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Get great advice

What would you buy with $100 on Amazon?

Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 10:58 AM

I have been collecting Amazon gift cards from various sources (mainly from online surveys) and I have probably a little over $100. I want to splurge on something for my birthday and I'm thinking something cooking-related. I love to cook but don't do enough of it, mainly because I work a lot. I'm looking for suggestions for cookware/tools available on Amazon that would make cooking more fun, easier, etc. Here's what I already have: KA stand mixer, Oster blender, breadmaker, rice cooker (small), Cuisinart mini food processor, a few good knives (2 chefs knives, paring, bread slicer, tomato slicer, and steak knives), a mandoline slicer, food scale, salad spinner, pressure cooker (wedding gift 5 years ago and still haven't used...), decent set of pans from Costco )and two large chef's pans I use all the time). Wow - sounds like a lot when I write it all out! Anything I'm missing though?

  1. p
    paraque Sep 17, 2011 07:14 AM

    My new favorite kitchen gadget is actually a great timesaver (since you said time is an issue for you). I just bought one of those Zojirushi hot water boilers. It's fantastic and lets me effortlessly prepare things I love like oatmeal and tea and hot chocolate without having to wait for the water to boil. I know it seems silly that waiting for water to boil would be an issue, but it makes a real difference in my tea drinking if I can have a cup of tea instantly vs. having to wait for 5 minutes. I also use it to fill pots for pasta, so it can boil on the stove almost immediately. It's great if you have kids for instant mac and cheese and fabulous for cleaning stuck-on food off of old dishes. I love it when I have to clean my cast iron fry pan - no waiting for the sink to heat up! I bought it initially because our coffee maker broke and I wanted to switch to french press coffee - this machine makes it effortless, so now I don't need a drip pot. I love it.

    I read so many reviews when looking into buying one where people said they thought it was such a stupid idea to have a gadget just for keeping water hot, but now they can't imagine life without it, and I feel the same way. You can get one for a little over $100.


    1 Reply
    1. re: paraque
      rasputina Sep 17, 2011 07:27 AM

      We have had ours for a few years and love our Zojirushi hot water pot. It converted my husband to a French press for his coffee too.

    2. r
      rasputina Sep 17, 2011 07:01 AM

      If the money has to cover the whole cost of the item, I'd buy a presto pressure canner. If it doesn't, then the All American pressure canner. Of course maybe you have no desire to can low acid foods?

      Can't go wrong with a dutch oven, but 100 dollars won't cover a nice 7 quart Le Creuset which I think is the perfect size to start out with since it's so versatile.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rasputina
        Jay F Sep 20, 2011 12:09 PM

        While I agree it would be nice to put your $100 towards the purchase of a Le Creuset French oven, the 5.5 qt size gets much more use chez moi than the 7.25 qt. But I live alone. Maybe the OP cooks for a crowd.

      2. h
        HeyImBack Sep 16, 2011 11:55 AM

        My bday was earlier this week and one of my gifts was a $100 Amazon gift card. I used it for a Kindle.

        3 Replies
        1. re: HeyImBack
          Jay F Sep 17, 2011 06:21 AM

          I'm tempted to buy a Kindle, but as I generally take books out of the library, a Kindle would be a money pit. I don't like downloading music, either. But we'll see how the next ten years go.

          1. re: Jay F
            Naguere Sep 17, 2011 06:44 AM

            Not a money pit at all.

            Gutenberg do free books.

            Kindle store do loads for $0,99

            Access to Chowhound as well.

            I have 180 books on mine and it will take 3,500
            Mrs Beeton et al.

            1. re: Jay F
              Rella Sep 17, 2011 06:55 AM

              You don't have to buy a kindle to get books to read on your computer. I prefer to read 'kindle style' books on my computer, either at my desk, or in bed at night on my 10" netbook. Most of the books I've downloaded for nothing or a small amount of money compared to a book.

              Not everyone can get to a library is another drawback.

          2. Bada Bing Sep 16, 2011 05:04 AM

            Not suggested yet, I think: a FoodSaver system. I've been tempted to get one of those for a long time, and think about it every time I pull something frost-damaged from the freezer.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bada Bing
              Rella Sep 16, 2011 05:36 AM

              To BadaBing from Rella:

              Think twice. Think thrice.

            2. o
              OldSchool Sep 13, 2011 07:59 PM

              I recommend a Thermapen instant read thermometer. It's supposed to be the best on the mkt. I don't have one yet but I do use my cheap instant read for a variety of apps (pies, breads, meats, fish, beer making, canning). I think a good thermometer is a key to success for many dishes.

              1. k
                khuzdul Sep 13, 2011 06:32 PM

                To be a smart-ass:

                Jacques Pepin - Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques
                Harold McGee - On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
                Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food
                Sarah R. Labensky, Alan M. Hause, Steve Labensky - On Cooking: Techniques From Expert Chefs, Trade Version (3rd Edition)

                To not be a smartass, if you love to cook and don't do enough of it because you work a lot, then the best thing that would make cooking more fun is to use the $100 to free up your time. If that is getting a personal assistant to do something time-consuming, not satisfying and simple enough that you could entrust to someone else, or perhaps paying extra for some sort of service that frees up your time (e.g. paying extra for delivery of grocers or other items you would otherwise drive out to pick up?)

                As far as cookware/tools, if you don't feel that you have a need for something, or if you do not have an urge to try something new that requires some new item, then just getting some new item of cookware or tool is not going to make cooking more fun. Unless you have a plan/desire and the time to cook differently or cook different things it will probably end up sitting around unused, taking up space as a symbol of consumerism...(and I have quite a few of those cookware items around the house!) I would look at the items that I used the most and think hard if they are somehow unsatisfactory, and then if $100 will procure an upgrade - because I use them all the time so hopefully I would appreciate the upgrade all the time as opposed to something I sort of really appreciate once in a blue moon.

                1 Reply
                1. re: khuzdul
                  Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 06:39 PM

                  You make some very good points! Sometimes you just need to step back a bit. More "stuff" is not always the answer.

                2. c
                  chefathome Sep 13, 2011 03:37 PM

                  Pasta attachments for your KA. I LOVE them.

                  About 1/4 of a Vita Mix. Since you must eat GF (as do I) grinding flax seed, almonds, etc. can come in very, very handy.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chefathome
                    Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 03:43 PM

                    Do you make GF pasta?

                    1. re: Emily928
                      chefathome Sep 13, 2011 06:48 PM

                      Yes, I do, but have not perfected it yet. But I am working on it and determined to find the right flours/ratios!

                  2. Chemicalkinetics Sep 13, 2011 03:30 PM

                    Well, a Dutch Oven is a good investment if you like slow cooking.


                    A carbon steel wok is great for Chinese stir-fry.

                    A waterstone for knife sharpening

                    A gel mat for prolong standing in the kitchen

                    A endgrain cutting board if you don't have one.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      chefathome Sep 13, 2011 03:38 PM

                      Man, I do not know what I would do without my 3 gel mats in the kitchen! Actually, our third is not a gel mat but made of another material - do not recall what - and we prefer it to gel. The gel has grown rather flat and hard but the other has remained thick and soft and was FAR cheaper. Must look up the information.

                      1. re: chefathome
                        Chemicalkinetics Sep 13, 2011 03:56 PM

                        "Must look up the information."

                        I will be interested to know. Could it be the Sublime Imprint mat? Like this?


                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          chefathome Sep 13, 2011 06:51 PM

                          Thanks for reminding me. My memory can be short at times.

                          It is not that mat but similar. I just looked for the label but alas- there is no label on the bottom of the mat. I will ask my husband when he gets in whether he remembers. I do know that it was about 1/4 of the price of the gel mats and am constantly surprised at how well it has held up. It is still squishy after three years whereas the gel mats have grown thin and hard. My mom loved it so much I bought two for her, too.

                          1. re: chefathome
                            Terrie H. Sep 20, 2011 12:54 PM

                            Chefathome - were you able to find the info on your 3rd mat? This sounds like something that could help me immensely. TIA

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 03:42 PM

                        What all do you use a dutch oven for? I don't usually have long periods of time at home to cook so I'm not sure if it would get that much use but I'm intrigued.

                        And yes, the gel mat is indispensible! I got one at Kohl's around Christmas pretty cheap and love it.

                        And sorry to be such a novice, but what's an endgrain cutting board? I only have plastic ones, which is probably a sin....

                        1. re: Emily928
                          Chemicalkinetics Sep 13, 2011 04:03 PM

                          A Dutch Oven can be used for many things, but most famous for making stews. It is also advantages if you want to sear some meat and then add liquid to cook. In short, you can do various thing in the same cookware without the need to transfer foods. It is not a must.

                          For natural fiber cutting boards (like wood), there are the edge grain boards and there are the end grain boards. For the edge grain boards, the fibers are parrallel to the counter surface and perpendicular to the knife motion. For the edge grain boards, the fibers are perpendicular to the counter surface and parrallal to the knife motion. Here are two photos:


                          1. re: Emily928
                            rasputina Sep 17, 2011 07:07 AM

                            chili, braising, gumbo, soup, deep frying, searing meat ( because the high sides keep the splatters in the pan), baking bread ( ok I never use it for that but it's a popular use)

                        2. s
                          sueatmo Sep 13, 2011 01:57 PM

                          I'd buy an immersion blender, I think. I've been "going to buy" one of these for some time now. I think I would use it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sueatmo
                            Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 02:04 PM

                            Oh, good idea! People were singing their praises on a thread about the merits of food processors (which I've decided I don't need because my mini one suits my needs pretty well). Although the idea of getting a sewing machine also popped into my head, so now I'm torn...

                            1. re: Emily928
                              sueatmo Sep 13, 2011 06:19 PM

                              Trust me on this, you can't buy a decent new sewing machine for $100. You might find an old Singer on craigslist, maybe. i will be making slow cooker white chili tomorrow, and I wish I had an immersion blender to puree some of the beans to thicken the pot. There are some threads on this forum about immersion blenders. I am liking the Kitchen Aid which sells for about $100. I've held the expensive Bamix at WS, and it was so heavy!

                            2. re: sueatmo
                              Rella Sep 13, 2011 02:13 PM

                              I bought a Bamix years ago. It didn't work out and I don't miss it. However, most people love them. I still have it. Taking up space :-))

                              Oh, I forgot, I had one previous to that, another top-of-the-line, I forget the manufacturer. That was the reason that I bought the Bamix, thinking it would be the panacea.

                            3. d
                              Dee S Sep 13, 2011 01:19 PM

                              Good suggestions from other posters. I'd have to add some cookbooks (yes, those are tools) for your pressure cooker, since you've never used it. I have Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect and find the recipes easy to follow. Miss Vickie has some good books as well. You're under-utilizing a great tool with the pressure cooker.

                              If you're passionate about a particular cuisine, look into some of the cookbooks on Amazon and pick up some favorites.

                              1. s
                                skyline Sep 13, 2011 01:03 PM

                                Would the $100 need to cover the entire item, or just the majority of it (50% or more)? :-)

                                If $100 had to cover everything, I'd probably decide to use it to stock up on some of the food items that we buy regularly via Amazon either because they are cheaper or because they're unavailable locally.

                                The problem is that the only cookware items I'm currently interested in are all $100+. That would be either a replacement countertop oven (either the Breville Compact or the Cuisinart TOB-195, both priced at about $170) or the new Zoji thermal cooker (which sadly is over $200, ouch).

                                Then again, I might take a flyer on the Shun Ken Onion 7" cleaver, just for the heck of it. I have the little paring knife ($139) in that style and despite its rather weird look, really like it! The cleaver is another over-$100 item but not as much so as the toaster oven or thermal cooker and Amazon currently sells it for $100 cheaper than everyone else (although the discount isn't as much as they show it being).

                                Suggestion for the OP: How are you fixed for bakeware? You can stock up on Fat Daddio's pans quite a bit for $100! :-) IMHO they are the best and Amazon carries the entire line (no, don't ask me how I know that, LOL).

                                1. i
                                  INDIANRIVERFL Sep 13, 2011 11:22 AM

                                  A $125 coupon for Trader Joes?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                    Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 11:26 AM

                                    Oh if only we had a TJ's here (Louisville, KY). We're supposed to be getting one though - I can't wait. Can you buy GCs for other stores on Amazon?

                                  2. r
                                    Rella Sep 13, 2011 11:20 AM

                                    Rice cooker?
                                    Bread machine?
                                    pizza stone & paddle?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Rella
                                      Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 11:28 AM

                                      I thought about a bigger rice cooker. I have a small one and it seems like a waste to buy something I already have, but I know they make some pretty nice ones. I do have a bread machine, which I thought was a necessity since I have to eat gluten free, but I don't use it nearly enough. Ditto on the pizza stone - I should use mine more.

                                      1. re: Emily928
                                        Rella Sep 13, 2011 01:32 PM

                                        You're a lucky gal - I'll have to come up with something else for you :-))

                                        O.K. an induction hob. I have two. Both were under $100.

                                    2. srsone Sep 13, 2011 11:18 AM

                                      ice cream maker for the KA?

                                      1. b
                                        bwinter714 Sep 13, 2011 11:16 AM

                                        In my opinion, you can always use a good dutch oven, I have two of my great-grandmothers and use them about twice a month for stews. I love cast-iron cookware though, so take my suggestion with a grain of salt :)


                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: bwinter714
                                          Emily928 Sep 13, 2011 11:27 AM

                                          Hmm...I don't have one of those so that's a thought. I'm not a big stew-maker but that could change! :-)

                                          1. re: Emily928
                                            cheesemaestro Sep 13, 2011 02:24 PM

                                            Think braise instead of stew and get yourself a copy of Molly Stevens' excellent book All About Braising to go along with your Dutch oven. A dutch oven has a lot of other uses, too, e.g. making slow-simmered pasta sauces.

                                        Show Hidden Posts