Kitchen needs and wants

For the longest time I was a proud non-gadget guy when it came to the kitchen. I made do with four main pans, three knives and only a few things that needed plugging in. The basics.

Then, for about six months last year, I strayed off the reservation. In came a bread machine, a pasta roller and a pasta extruder. It got a little out of hand, and none of these things – except maybe the roller, I use that all the time – is truly necessary. But as He Cooks, She Cooks notes in a post referencing Rouxbe (a new one for me), there are certain things you simply must have. I nominate a good chef’s knife, cutting board, heavy sautee pan and tongs. Everything else is accessories.


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

13 thoughts

  1. A good sturdy whisk is a must for me. I use mine at least twice a week if not more. Probably a good heavy spatula too. Outside of that I’m in agreement.

  2. For the baker, a heavy duty mixer is very nice addition. After a few months of kneading French bread by hand, I really want a mixer. I think I would stop buying bread all together.

  3. Cast iron skillet(s) and dutch oven. Just can’t do many things right without them.

    Also, a big mortar and pestle. We grind and mix virtually all our spices fresh, and the difference in flavor and quality (not to mention shelf life of whole spices) is huge.

  4. Cast iron and mortar and pestle are good additions.

    As for an accessory (not necessary, but really handy) I am surprised how much I like the Magic Bullet. Normally I’d scoff at gadgets from TV, but my roommate has one, and it’s great for making sauces. A blender or food processor are just so big, you hate to take it out, get it dirty, wash it. A small food processor or something like the Bullet is great because you don’t lose half the sauce. I must use it a few times a week. And we made sure to bring it for our Iron Chef competition, too.

  5. Anybody been to the B&J/Peerless restaurant supply store? It’s on Vandiver just east of Rt. B. I’ve been looking to retire my thin, scortchy, POS big stockpot for some time. A restaurant manager I know suggested them, and I just picked up a nice, heavy, 20qt pot. With lid it came to $64.

  6. Brittany,

    I’d never heard of the Magic Bullet until you referenced it, but we have a small immersion blender that is fantastic. Blending soups and sauces in the pot creates so much less mess and washup than a stand-alone blender, and allows more control over the consistency of the product. Plus, ours has basic attachments for whisks and chopping that work great for small batches. It’s definatley become one of our most-used tools.

    Scott, that’s a great tip. We’ve been bemoaning the lack of a kitchen store in Columbia for years, and save up our wish lists for trips to the great one in Westport (KC). Does this place have a retail front that you can just walk up/in to?

  7. B&J/Peerless is totally open to the public. Restaurants (supposedly) don’t even get a discount on what we civilians would pay. And they have everything from commercial sinks to whisks. Good stuff.

  8. I would also suggest Ford Restaurant Supply. It is off of Vandiver behind the bread outlet (by where you take your driving test – not where you get your license renewed.) It is also walk in and selsl to the public.

    Cast iron is one of my favorites and while not necessary, I would not want to do without my hand hammered steel wok. I cook in it at least two times a week. I got an enameled cast iron dutch oven for Christmas that I have become very fond of.

    Oh and a grill!

  9. I love my immersion blender as well-great for soup and emulsifying salad dressing. I must have a hand cranked grinder-the only way you can get the texture it provides for ham salad and relishes. Two things I just got at the thrift store that I don’t know how I did without- the first, a LeCreuset 11″ skillet-I can brown chicken/beef in it and then put it right in the oven to finish cooking or use it as a casserole or a pie pan. The second is a 5 qt 1st generation Revereware saucepan. Great for making candy.

  10. You got a LeCreuset skillet AT A THRIFT STORE?!
    If anyone else would like to dispose of their fine french cookware, please contact me. I’m happy to pay thrift store prices, maybe even more! đŸ™‚

  11. I also agree regarding the cast iron skillets, and I’m also big on good quality knives. I was a spatula guy for a long, long time but bought a pair of tongs a few months ago and wonder now how I got along without them–I can turn one slice of potato at a time!

    I am also a big fan of my electric grill. It is a Hamilton Beach rather than one with the old boxer’s name on it. It’s great for cooking for one, and I would imagine that it would be just as handy for two. It heats up in five minutes, cooks almost anything in five to eight minutes, drains that nasty fat into a neat little receptacle on the side, and is quick and easy to clean. I do miss the charcoal taste at times, but this is much quicker since it is cooking from both above and below at the same time.

  12. I’d also nominate an all metal/glass meat thermometer. A certain someone I know inserted a plastic capped one into a roast, thinking it was all metal. Smelled awful when it started melting…Simple solution is to stop buying plastic thermometers so you never make that mistake again. Also, a long wooden ladle is great for not getting steam burns, and won’t scratch enamel or impart flavors.

    Also, Scott, a 20qt stock pot is a man’s pot, jeeeez. I think my biggest is 8 or 10, and that’s a beast in itself. I bet you can make some mean chili with that thing.

    Pastry scraper really makes cleanup go fast too.

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