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Jun 10, 2012 07:58 PM

$1,000 gift for kitchen stuff. Upgrade oven, fridge, or buy barbecue/smoker, knives, or other?

My mom decided to give me some money towards kitchen stuff, but I think I already have all the essentials and then some. I have a crappy electric coil stove with a crack in the glass, and matching fridge. They work well enough I guess. Wouldn't think that a new fridge would cool better, or a new stove would cook better.. My coils aren't as flat as I'd like, but I have one decent big burner, and I'm sure I could fix the other with tinfoil or something to stabilize it.

I don't have a barbecue, and I'm interesting in smoking stuff.. But I live in an apartment.. Then again there's no rule against barbecues here (just bringing propane up the elevator) and I only have 2 people above me and one is a good friend.

Is there a good barbecue / smoker combo that I can cold and warm smoke in?

I have a stand mixer, panini press, food processor, ice cream maker attachment, breville juicer, kitchenaid blender.. Good stock pot, big le creuset, couple of good SS pans. Henckel 4* chef's knife I think 8". My deep freezer is broken but I think I just wasted money and time when I used it. I just use it as counter space now.

Also I can add some money to the budget for the right thing.

Does a $1500 electric stove cook better than my 10 year old Kenmore? I'm doubting it's enough to spend money on..

What would you buy if you were me, or what would you get if it was for you?

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  1. You said you have an apartment; so you're renting? Then the stove and fridge are your landlord's responsibility, unless you provided your own appliances when you moved in. Don't replace the appliances unless you plan to keep them for 12-15 years, which is about their expected lifespan.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jsommer

      Yeah we lived in a loft before we moved here and so we had our own fridge and stove, so I kept them.

      1. re: SocksManly

        I'm guessing from your profile you live in Toronto or the GTA..
        Go down to Knife on Queen west or Tosho Knife Arts in Mirvish Village and pick up a couple of nice knives.
        + 1 on carbon steel pans(de Buyer etc) has them at a decent price.

        1. re: petek

          Thanks I'll do that! I didn't know of those stores. I've been to some of the restaurant supply stores like Nikolau before but no speciality knife stores.

          Going to Vegas soon for 2 weeks, so I was thinking of getting some Victorinox Fibrox knives because they're cheap and apparently very good, without getting fancy. I want a meat cleaver, and a bread knife too.

          1. re: SocksManly

            "Going to Vegas soon for 2 weeks"
            Well say good buy to your $1000.00... :D

            Kidding. Victorinox are good, inexpensive knives.
            For a cleaver you might want to check out CCK in the Pacific Mall.

            1. re: petek

              hehe I'm working at the World Series of Poker main event final, so they pay me! You seem to know a lot about knives, what do you have? I have my 4* henckel, had the matching paring knife but lost it... I bought my family a Global 8 or 10" chef's knife which is crazy sharp, really bites.. But I wasn't in love with the handles and how "sharp" they are on top, and the weight compared compared to my big german knife.

              I read about CCK last night, I'll definitely check that place out. How much should I expect to spend on a good cleaver? Not like I work in a kitchen either...

              PS: I posted some pictures in another comment in this thread, bottom picture is of my knives.

              1. re: SocksManly

                <You seem to know a lot about knives, what do you have?>

                I don't know a lot about knives,but I know what I like for a pro environment.
                I've recently switched from carbon to Stainless Steel(Konosuke HD and Swedish Stainless).

    2. Hey, Socks:

      You sound like you are already pretty well equipped. And your mom must love you a lot!

      "Does a $1500 electric stove cook better than my 10 year old Kenmore?" Probably not, unless your Kenmore is malfunctioning. Even if the coils have dead spots and sit uneven, replacement parts are inexpensive.

      It is hard to give you a strong recommendation without knowing more about what, how, and for how many you like to cook. If you think you have everything you need *other* than a BBQ/smoker, you can get a hella one for substantially less than $1,500. Weber Smokey Mountain cookers run in the $200-$300 range, and their owners win BBQ/smoke competitions every weekend.

      Regarding cold vs. warm smoke, there isn't a lot of crossover. But there're plenty of options for smoke in the kippering range (about 145F) and above. True cold smoking is probably not realistic for an apartment deck.

      The brief reference you give to your "SS pans" indicates that you might not have a really high-performance saute or rondeau. If you don't, one might be a good idea. As would a few sizes of copper or aluminum oval gratins, which are very versatile on the stove, in the oven, and at table. I note also that you have not mentioned a cutting board.

      Without knowing you or your cooking better, I would advise that you get what empassions you most to develop and progress as a a cook. It might be cookware, it might be cookbooks or even cooking lessons.

      Feel free to start a dialogue here. I'm sure someone here will tease the right thing out of you.


      10 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Great post thanks. I cook for me, my wife, my four year old and.... the garbage bin... because I always cook too much. I like to try lots of different recipes, have a couple shelves of cookbooks that I buy used 1-3 at a time. Probably my favourite types of foods are low and slow stuff, especially braised meats. I make chicken stock very regularly, and veal stock when I get lucky with some bones.

        As far as a BBQ or smoker goes, I did some research last night, and I'd be torn between propane and a big green egg type of thing (kamado vision most likely since it's on here for $599 at costco). The propane I'd like because I can cook several things at once (veggies and meats) and I could open it more often, ease of use, etc. The egg because I could smoke in it, but seems like more work, lots of needed accessories, etc. Also the WSM ones look very good too, but I could only smoke in them rather than BBQ/grill yes? And they're like $350 here (Canada...) so if I could go to $600 for the Kamado and do steak and chicken as well as smoking that would seem more logical for me.

        Also I'd be concerned that smoking might offend my neighbours with the smell... They smell a lot no? I've never been around one.

        I guess I got the idea for cold smoking from my Garde Manger book. I'll put that on hold until I have a custom built house (neverrrrr!)

        SS pans.. Lets do this, here's my main cookware.

        I have two 12" deep cast iron pans by Henckels that I love, I use them constantly. They were $200+ each, but I just love them. The first one I got hasn't fared as well as the second, as you can see from the pics.. I only use the old one for things where the rough surface won't matter now as a backup. I took the extra pics because I've been meaning to send them to Henckels to see if it was a bad one perhaps. It really fell apart.

        My red dutch oven as well is well past enamelled stage, but it's still very smooth on the bottom. I have a blue rounded smaller one too that I like to use for like custards and things you have to stir a lot, because the round edges are nice there. Is that what a rondeau is?

        I've always felt that I'm missing a 12" flat sided SS pan with the shiny bottom, but I figured my 12" cast iron henckels handle most of those use cases.

        The first picture is a $35 disc bottom SS pan that I often like better than my more expensive one, especially for searing meat, I think because of my coil burner electric stove.

        My only other SS frying pan is the Mauviel one, which is okay but seems to have an ever so slightly rounded bottom and never seems to sit right on my burners, so I end up with hot and cold areas.

        The cutting board I have is made out of the original top of my island that you see underneath. The top got a bit of water damage on it, so my step dad made a new top and cut the old one into a cutting board. Works nicely, but it's really big.

        I don't have great sauce pots, the little All Clad one I got for $25 on sale one year, never seen anything like it again. The next best and bigger one I have is a Lagostina that I stole from my friend's fridge when he moved out and left it full of mold. All mine.

        Love the clear storage containers I have a few of as well, such a big difference over the crappy standard stuff.

        Aaand a picture of my horribly messy kitchen..

        I have no oval gratins except a few thick porcelain ones I got from a restaurant supply. What do you use yours for?

        1. re: SocksManly

          Hey, SM:

          Unless you have performance issues, you're set in the saute department, and for most things.

          I believe you can do pretty much everything in a WSM as you can an BGE. They're both going to smell up the environs.

          The oval gratins can be used for gratineed dishes, of course, but also make excellent roasters. The metal ones can also be put on the stovetop for deglazing and making integral sauces. And they make good serving platters.

          Here's a new suggestion... What about an instant-read thermometer, like a Thermapen? I use mine a lot.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            The BGE type things go much hotter so you can sear steaks at like 700+ degrees, cook pizza really hot, and also goes low enough for BBQ type smoking. I guess I have to go with one of those. The WSM seems really appealing though for the price and how everyone loves theirs.. I did read that the ceramic BGE type ones are better in windy weather though, which makes sense just looking at them, and I live very high up.. So it would be on a windy balcony.. Also I could cook at higher temps like a barbecue rather than just smoking all the time.

            What size of oval gratin is most useful?

            I have a digital thermometer, I'll look into the Thermapen thanks! I need to buy one for my family in Mexico anyways, as I'm always stuck with no good meat thermometer there.

            1. re: SocksManly

              <I'll look into the Thermapen thanks!>

              A Thermapen is a great idea if you do a lot of griilin'& BBQ'n.
              I use mine at work and home.Got it from Ace Bakery(special promo) $70.00 all in(tax and shipping)

              1. re: SocksManly

                You might also look at Traeger for a smoker that also does high heat -- it is electric and uses wood pellets. I have never seen one used; just saw them at Costco last night and the sales rep talked a good game.

                1. re: SocksManly

                  One thing to keep in mind with the BGE type is that they are extremely heavy. I only mention that as you are on a balcony. Make sure it will support the extra weight.

                  1. re: mikie

                    Come on now! the large is 130lb. I'm pretty sure a balcony can support that weight. If it can't, then no person should be allowed to use it.

                    1. re: chipman

                      Seriously, that's all a large BGE weighs, I'm amazed. Whenever I've seen one they are on very substancial stands, I would have thought they were considerably heavier than that. It's like having another person on the balcony, so I guess that's not so bad, I would have guessed they weighed 3x that. My apologies to the BGE.

                      1. re: mikie

                        The one I'm looking at says 228lbs. Not sure if that's with box or not. At least Costco offers free delivery, quite convenient here.

                        But yeah I have an 8 foot long by 2 foot wide by 2 foot deep wooden planter I built out there, when wet it has to weigh much more than the BBQ would, so I'm safe. I'll just make sure to put the BBQ in the planter to test. ;)

            2. Here are a couple of electric smokers that you may not have heard about. I own a Cookshack and love it.


              2 Replies
              1. re: dcrb

                Thanks those look really easy. Have you used a WSM or BGE vs the dedicated vertical door smokers like those?

                1. re: SocksManly


                  No, I haven't. I have a stick burner with an offset firebox I have used for years, and a weber kettle and a gas grill. I got the electric smoker because I got tired of tending the fire every so often. box. I am in my 60's now and I do long smokes overnight or while at work and for me electric is good. I still have and will use the other on occasion for short smokes. But mostly it is the electric. And I use only 2 to 4 ounces of wood for the whole prices. I had my doubts but I am liking it. Pork butt below, 12 hours, 2 oz hickory.

              2. If you're not in need of anything, I'd suggest you simply use the next 3-6 months tracking what you don't have that you want/need so you end up spending on what you'll use rather than just something else.

                Ironically, I've become a tremendous fan (and daily user) of carbon steel pans. You can get a set of 8, 10, 12, plus specialty pans for $200-400 max (I got 6 pans at different times on sale via Amazon and Chef's Catalog), and they've replaced almost all my cookware because they're so versatile and easy to use and care for (not carefree but easy nonetheless).

                The other splurge I often recommend is a Vitamix - a blender by any other name simply isn't the same.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rigmaster

                  Yeah always a good idea to relax before buying stuff. I definitely buy things one at a time too as the need arises, or I can't put up with the inconvenience any longer. There's only a few things I never use.. my tagine is one.. was a gift.. And mezzaluna herb thing I bought years ago when I had no errrr less clue what I was doing.

                  Do you have carbon steel sauce pots? I remember seeing a lot of bare handle carbon steel frying pans at the restaurant supply here but not pots.

                  Blender is another good choice I thought about, but I found a Breville juicer for $35 and that works well enough for juices. I'll eventually get one surely. How could I resist. Blendtec is like $399 at Costco USA though, hard to beat that and it has the "wildside" extra jar included with a 4" blade.

                  Also it's nice to juice your vegetables and then blend in fruits with an immersion blender. but yeah not smooth like the crazyblenders.

                2. "But I live in an apartment.. Then again there's no rule against barbecues here"

                  AFAIK, you can't barbecue in an apartment. Check with your local FD.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: FrankJBN

                    Well on my balcony. It's all based on the by-laws of where you live. In Toronto you're allowed, I can see them on lots of other balconies.

                    1. re: SocksManly

                      Just because you can see them, doesn't make the legal. Too many people don't pay attention while cooking and often set balconies on fire so, most fire codes in the USA don't allow them even if there isn't a specific prohibition in your apartment lease itself.

                      Heck, how many people set their houses on fire every Thanksgiving when they plunge a FROZEN turkey into a propane fired turkey fryer?

                      Fire codes and local laws are written for the dumbest and most inattentive, not the people who are doing things right.

                      1. re: Sid Post

                        International fire code prohibits use of open flame cooking or charcoal cooking on balconies, fire escapes, under flammable overhangs or within 10 feet of any combustable construction without an automatic sprinkler system in multi-family dwellings. Local ordinances do not have to follow the international fire code recommendations, but I believe that Toronto does. Non-open flame grills however tend to be permitted, such as an infrared grills, electric grills and the like. You can also get wood pellet smokers such as the Traeger smokers which usually pass fire code.

                        IANAL - but if your building does have a fire, then the presence of a violation of the fire code, such as having an open flame grill, could give grounds for insurance companies not to pay out any policies as well as open the violator to personal liability for fire related damages - However if the violation did not cause or aggravate the fire you probably would win in court, but it could be a fairly long and painful process to defend from suits of others or to force the insurance company to own up to their obligation.