Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Kitchen

After four weeks of  World Cup, withdrawal sets in...........

Soupy New York City apartment, no stomach because the worthless Italians got knocked out early on, and MTA bonuses.

 But, it’s time to get back to the Kitchen.

Summertime is here after all.

Time to stock up.


Why is everyone so afraid of these things?

They’re pots and pans, y’all; they’re tools; it’s not that complicated.

It seems that every recipe from every “Celebrity” chef requires you to have one of their specialized cooking gadgets or appliances in order to make their “James Beard Award Winning” recipe for Sassafras Boiled Cuttlefish.

It’s just not the case.

Every kitchen, no matter how small, austere, posh, or cheap should have a few select items; especially when you live in that abandoned van, on Avenue U, in Brooklyn, that was listed at $180K in the real estate section of last week’s newspaper, with the “University Ambience”, which you put a down payment on, because you thought that it was a “unique fixer-upper opportunity”, and got a good mortgage due to the recession, even though your credit is rotten.

Here’s a basic list of most of the kitchen hardware that everybody should have :

A Cast Iron Skillet
C’mon, this is a kitchen staple; it did your Grandmother proud and will last you well into the next century, just like Gran’Ma.

A Cast Iron Grille Pan
(the one with the ribs on the bottom)
See above. This is the other thing that Gran’Ma left you, even though you can barely lift it.

An Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, with a lid that fits
Same as above. These are great because they can go from stovetop, to oven, to table in the blink of an eye. “Le Creuset” is my ideal brand and are often on sale at many department stores when they have a plethora of icky colours to choose from; rutabaga-orange, anyone? Go buy one and don’t care so much about the colour, unless your “table-scape” is that critical. They last forever and only get more cracked and charming as they grow old, much like your Uncle Morty.

A Large Heavy Sauté Pan with a tight fitting lid
Find one at your local restaurant supply shop. Again, heavy is good and will last forever. You only need one of these; so don’t be cheap. If you don’t have a local restaurant supply shop, never fear. Your local department store will often have sales on “loose stock” (keep your mind out of the gutter); you know, the floor display models that are not part of a set. Look around and ask; just make sure it’s sturdy. These can be expensive, but you only need to buy it once.

A Teflon™ (non stick) Skillet
Here is something that will wear out, sorry kids. Teflon™ is notorious for falling apart over time due to its inherent nature. Teflon™ is “non-stick” after all and won’t even bond to the metal of the frying pan that it is supposed to protect. Also, Teflon™ does not survive the dishwasher too well due to the abrasives that are used in most commercial dishwashing detergents. Regardless, a heavy somewhat expensive one will keep you in good stead for sometime; I’ve got one that’s fifteen years old to prove it. Just be kind to it, hand wash it (it is nonstick after all, so it shouldn’t ever get gunky), don’t put it in the oven, keep it away from sharp metal objects (think about the children now), and you should be rewarded.

A Sauce Pan with a tight fitting lid
So, what the heck is a “Sauce Pan” and why do I need one when I’m not making a sauce? This is just a term for any pot to boil things in, like eggs, potatoes, parsnips, rice, etc. Again, heavy is good here, so don’t be stingy. Anyone sensing a pattern here??

A Pasta/Stock Pot with a lid that fits
Same thing as above. Bigger and heavier is better, kinda like your Great Aunt Essie.

All right, all of this sounds expensive, and frightening, and overwhelming.


Many of these items are easily found at flea markets, i.e. anything made of cast iron; or, on sale at your favorite department store. None of these items are very difficult to find. The idea here is not necessarily to be cheap, but to be practical. A few really good quality pieces of equipment will really last you forever, even if they cost you a few extra bucks. The important thing to be aware of is maintenance. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.

Now, this is only the most basic of lists.

However, when you are at your best friend’s ski house, chances are, he will have even less than what’s on this list and the quality will be beyond questionable. But, after you have mastered all of things that you can do with only the most basic equipment, it won’t matter whose anemic kitchen you wind up in. 

You will have your “Miz” together.

©2010 Wait At The Bar

1 comment:

  1. I don't know man my chef's pan is feeling pretty irreplaceable now that I don't have it...

    On the other hand, I bought a non-stick skillet over here that doesn't appear to be teflon, says it's oven safe and is pretty darn tough. Though I do hand wash it and don't use metal tools on it.

    I'd add ceramic banking dishes to your list fo sure.