Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tools of the Trade - Kitchen Equipment

As much as we focus on the taste and visual splendors of our foods, we sometimes take it as a given what tools we rely on to make our meals happen. Mark Bittman's article in yesterday's New York Times reminds me of two I wrote for my other cooking blog for the absolute novice cook (which is currently on back burner due to my sense of impending burn-out in maintaining two blogs). An absurb exercise, I know, but I if had to pick five essential tools to function in my kitchen (not counting major appliances), I would have to choose:

1. Chef's knife with a sharp edge
2. 4-quart sauce pan
3. 10-inch frying pan
4. A long-handled pancake turner
5. Large mixing bowl (I would use # 4 to stir ingredients)

Of course, there are so many more things we all depend on and take for granted, but if I was ever stranded on a desert island, I think I could get by on these...but then, I would have much more pressing issues, like finding potable water, lighting a fire and foraging for food. Not having a frying pan would be the least of my troubles.

What would YOU choose as your five essential survival tools?

14 comments:

  1. chef's knife, cutting board, mortar and pestle, a carbon steel wok (the shape is also good for mixing and it doesn't need to be washed, only wiped), a ladle for cooking.

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  2. I love the idea of a kitchen survival pack. Okay:

    Japanese chef's knife; a stone mortar and pestle; pressure cooker (the vegetarian's best friend); long-handled wooden spoon; and my very large, lidded saute pan.

    May I have just one more? The huge wooden chopping board that is in fact a salvaged wine barrel lid. It's dyed a lovely shade of claret underneath from it's previous life.

    Susan, have you read Patience Gray's book 'Honey from a Weed'? She traipsed around the Meditteranean with just such a kit in tow - it makes for wonderful reading.

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  3. Bee - The wok is an excellent idea for multi-tasking. I'm ditching the sauce and fry pans in favor of one. Strange, I am now clueless to decide on that fifth item. Already I am thinking less is more.

    Lucy - Of course you can have one more. This is "Fantasy Island" we're being marooned on. : ) Your barrel lid cutting board sounds like it has great character, a fellow out of a Dickens novel.

    No, I haven't read Gray's book, but it's now on my Amazon Wishlist. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  4. My five essentials would be:

    Chef's knife
    Mortar & Pestle
    Karahi/wok
    Tongs
    Cutting board

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  5. Definitely chopping board, little sabatier knife that I use to do everything from chopping parsley stems to hacking at chickens (dead ones), microplaner, medium mixing bowl and wooden spoon(s). I could interchange one of the above for a mini whisk as well. Or oven gloves. Or...you get the idea.

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  6. I think that I would have a larger sauce pan (6 quarts at least, so I could make pasta) and might consider tongs over the spatula, although its definetely a toss-up (ha ha).

    Ira B.

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  7. Cynthia - I'm intrigued by the Karahi. I'm wondering if it's got its own unique features outside of the familiar Asian-style wok.

    Freya & Paul - How could I forget the Microplane? No scuffed fingertips.

    Welcome, Ira. The idea of going without pasta is rather dismal, isn't it?

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  8. 1. chef's knife
    2. wok (glad I'm late, I wouldn't have thought of that on my own)
    3. bamboo spatula (would double for spoon mixing)
    4. chopping board
    5. spur of the moment lux item ??

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  9. Welcome, Tanna. So far we can all agree on a knife. I like my lux items, too, but I definitely use the beaten up, old gear most often.

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  10. 1) A dutch oven
    2) A flat bottomed wooden spoon
    3) A chef's knife
    4) A large fork
    5) A mixing bowl

    I think I could live quite comfortably with those five.

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  11. You've got a good argument for the Dutch oven, Christina. It can pretty much do the work of all the cookware combined.

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  12. Santoku knife, cutting board, wooden spoon or spatula, 11-inch vollrath chef's pan (a cross between a saute and a wok, with a flat bottom and nonstick surface), and an 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven.

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  13. I just checked out the Vollrath, Lydia. Nice pan - stable and sturdy.

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  14. I'd probably agree with all of these save for the pancake turner, I'd probably swap it for a set of tongs or scissors. As someone trying to run a minimalist kitchen, its nice to know how different cooks value different utensils. Yet, again and again, the Chef's knife trumps all others.

    Thanks for sharing,
    John

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