Kitchen Equipment The Right
basic kitchen needs a selection of pots and pans, some basic
gadgets, and a collection of common spices and
Pots and Pans:
minimum set includes a small frying pan, a one-quart saucepan
with cover, a two-quart saucepan with cover, a large frying pan
with cover, and a large pot (for spaghetti, stew, pot roast, or
homemade soup.) If you are cooking for more than one person,
get two each of the frying pans and saucepans. Covers are
optional for the frying pans, but try to get a cover to fit at
Good quality pans spread the heat evenly so
that food does not burn in area of the pan and stay undercooked
in another. The bottom of a good pan sits flat on the stove.
Cheap pans wear out fast and cost more in the long run.
Stainless steel pans with a porcelain coating or a copper
bottom are excellent. Stay away from aluminum pans. They get
bent out of shape easily and do not last. There have also been
some health warnings about cooking in aluminum, but no real
proof of any danger.
When using pans with a non-stick coating,
turn the heat up only as far as is necessary, and only use
wooden or plastic tools. Wipe the pan clean in soapy water. A
plastic or nylon net scrubber can be used, but never use steel
wool pads. If you do not burn the food onto the pan, and you
wash it while the food is still fresh and moist, it will be
easy to clean. If you have birds as pets, you may want to avoid
non-stick coatings. If you use them, be sure not to overheat
them. The coating can release fumes that can kill a
Some other useful tools are a slow cooker, a
wok (for Chinese cooking), toaster, microwave, blender, food
processor, electric mixer, and an electric knife. There are
also bread machines available at reasonable prices that produce
a fresh hot loaf of bread rapidly. Most machines also have a
delay setting to allow one to place the ingredients in the
machine hours before the bread is needed, so the machine
finishes just in time for dinner.
You will need some wooden spoons. Get a
selection of sizes and handle lengths. These are always handy
and they will not damage your non-stick coatings. Unlike metal
tools, they do not get too hot to handle.
You will also want a collection of spatulas
in different sizes and shapes. The lightweight spatula that
will flip an egg may not be strong enough for a hamburger.
Sometimes a narrow spatula is all that will fit in a pan, and
sometimes a wide one is needed to get under whatever needs to
be turned or lifted.
Whisks come in various sizes. They are very
handy for mixing lightweight ingredients quickly, and are
easier to get out and later to clean than a blender or
Get a good set of knives. Cheap ones make the
job of cutting more difficult and they wear out fast. With the
knives, you will need a good cutting board. A cutting board
provides a flat working surface and protects your counters.
Plastic cutting boards are easier to clean than wooden ones.
Never cut vegetables that will be eaten raw on a cutting board
that was used to cut raw meat unless you thoroughly clean the
You will also need a selection of measuring
tools. Measuring cups for dry ingredients and measuring spoons
come in sets. Get a set of each. You will need a measuring cup
for liquids, too. A one-cup measure is probably sufficient, but
two-cup and quart measures are also useful. If you want to be
precise in your measurements for dietary requirements, buy a
food scale and measure your portions until you get used to the
sizes and can estimate accurately without weighing
lot of canned products are now being packaged with pop tops,
but get a good can opener for the others. There are some
electrics that sell for reasonable prices and do a good job,
but get a manual one too. When the power goes out, it can be
frustrating not to be able to open the cans.
Spices and Condiments:
Salt and pepper go without saying. Some dried
minced onion peps up a lot of recipes. Garlic is available
fresh or in dried, chopped form or as a powder. Caution: make
sure you know the difference between garlic powder and garlic
salt. Garlic powder makes great garlic bread; garlic salt makes
VERY salty garlic bread.
Oregano or "Italian Seasoning," gives an
Italian flavor to anything. A bay leaf cooked in stew brings
out the flavor of the other ingredients. Paprika is a red
powder used mainly for appearance, but it has been linked to
some health benefits. If you like things hot, try sprinkling
some cayenne pepper or chili powder on your
Basic condiments include ketchup, mustard,
relish and mayonnaise. There are all sorts of mustard varieties
available. You can probably find traditional yellow mustard,
Dijon, spicy brown, honey, and hot Chinese mustard, just to
name a few. Explore your local market and see what looks good.
Be adventurous, but buy the smallest size, so you do not have a
lot to discard if you do not like it.
Other condiments to try are steak sauces,
barbecue sauces, tartar sauce, and various stir-fry sauces.
Read the labels. If sugar is one of the first few ingredients,
forget it. Ingredient labels list the ingredients in descending
order. The main ingredient is first, then the others, with the
least one last.
too, can manoeuvre in the unfamiliar
waters of gourmet cuisine, with just a
few well-learned techniques that are easy
to master, and build a repertoire of
literally hundreds of dishes and deserts.
Let Geoffrey set you on the path today,
to gastronomical delights!