Sunday, April 19, 2015

DIY -- bare essentials

DIY cooking does not mean spending a ton of money on kitchen stuff.
You can use your search engine and find lots of recommendations.  Here are mine.
You need a skillet.  This is for pot roast, chili mac, and lots of other things, not just frying.
That means you need a flipper, and a large spoon for both stirring and serving.
You probably also want a large, two-prong meat fork because you will use it to hold a roast down while you cut, but you also need it for getting the chuck out of the pot roast onto the serving plate.
You need a soup pot.  You will use this for cooking spaghetti as well as soup and stew.  You can also use it to blanch vegetables for freezing and, if it's big enough, to boil bagels before baking.
You want a ladle to serve soup and stew.  You want a wire strainer for pasta because you can also line it with cheesecloth to drain the whey out of yogurt for yogurt cheese.
You want a small saucepan for hot chocolate, white sauce, single servings of leftovers, rice, and a ton of other things.  In fact, I should have put this first.
You want a large spoon for guiding things as you pour from this, or to get rice out.  The stirring spoon will be too big.
You probably also want a medium-sized saucepan to make a batch of sauce like tomato or alfredo, or for boiling a lot of potatoes to mash.
The saucepans and skillet all have to come with lids. 
I recommend Revereware because it's high quality and lasts a long time and you don't have to worry about a non-stick surface getting damaged.
You probably want a big casserole with a lid for some recipes, which need to cook in the oven.
You want a serving plate but you can probably use a dinner-sized plate for this until you build up to making whole turkeys.
At that point you want a roaster pan which usually is enameled and black.  It will double for chickens, ducks, and roasts of beef or veal (and pork and lamb if you're that way inclined).
You want a really large mixing bowl for bread.  It will also mix your croutons or farfel and herbs for stuffing that turkey later, and hold a large amount of salad for the whole table.
You want a manual can opener.  That way it doesn't matter if the power goes out.
You want a manual mixer that doesn't use electricity.  It will take a long time to make mayonnaise with this, but you don't want to eat a lot of mayonnaise because it's pure fat.
You want a small knife for paring and cutting small vegetables.
You want a big knife for tough vegetables like squash and for roasts.
You want a manual peeler that can also core apples.  It's safer than a small knife for some things.
You ought to get a bread knife if you're going to make your own. 
You want a cutting board.  It will double as a bread board for kneading.  YOU HAVE TO KEEP THIS SCRUPULOUSLY CLEAN otherwise germs from meat and chicken will get into other foods.
You want three or four oven mitts to protect your hands.
You want hot pads to protect your table from serving dishes.
You want two or three kitchen towels for your hands, and you can also use them for covering bread while it rises, and to dry dishes if you're using castile soap on them.
If your area has drinkable tap water, you want a water jug to store it in the fridge.  This will save you hundreds of dollars over its lifetime compared to bottled water -- which sometimes is just tap water from somewhere else.
You want some way to boil water; you can use a saucepan for this but being a tea-freak, I have a nice singing teakettle.  And a little fine-wire strainer to put the leaves in while it brews.  You won't need the strainer if you like bag tea; I'm way too spoiled for that.
You need a set of plates and bowls to eat from, and a set of flatware to use instead of your fingers, and some glassware to drink from.  Four place settings are probably enough unless you have more roommates than that.  Just remember, you have to wash them or you'll run out.  They will save huge amounts of money and space in landfills.
You probably need at least one microwaveable dish for carrying lunch to work.  Even if you pack a sandwich, you can put it in this dish and you will save hundreds of dollars a year on food. 
You will also save money on plastic bags and plastic wrap.
You will also save the landfills, plus some places are cracking down on those non-decaying packages that fast-food places use.
At some point you will probably like to get a tablecloth and cloth napkins, say, in time for your first home-made Thanksgiving dinner, to put on the dog a little for your guests.
You can get all the nice-to-haves later: butter dish; creamer and sugar bowl; storage canisters (for now, keep things in their bags); skewers; chef's knife for fine chopping; pastry brush; double-boiler (for melting chocolate squares and a few other things); other sizes of mixing bowls; soup tureen to serve the soup at table instead of dishing up in the kitchen; thermal mug to make coffee at home & take in the car (instant coffee is hundreds of dollars cheaper than Starbucks every year).
That's a long list but it will get you through many months of cooking that saves you money and protects the environment.  And those are two things that DIY is all about.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved  

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