This is a bit of a mine field, there are so many things you can have in your kitchen, from rice cookers to slow cookers, muffin bakers, lord knows how many different garlic crushers, graters & citrus juicers. Really the list is endless but how much of this do you actually need and will you actually use.
In an effort to wade through all these options I will start a list of what I think are essential items to have in your kitchen, I do think you need to buy the best you can afford & if you can get a deal then even better.
Lets start with the things I would use every day; My cooks knife, chopping board & saucepans.
The Cooks Knife
I bought mine nearly 20 years ago (oh wow I can’t believe its been that long) it’s a WÜSTHOF Trident 26cm Cooks Knife & is worth every cent of it’s $275 price tag which back then when I was buying the equipment required for my studies at William Angliss College was a heck of a lot of money. I also bought the matching steel which has an oval shape rather than circular for a great surface area. With these two pieces of metal I have managed to cook pretty much everything, they’re both still in excellent condition and I believe I’ll be able to pass them onto my Grandchildren.
I don’t think you need to buy the whole set of knives unless you’re planning on becoming a chef, butcher etc. You do need a good cooks knife, a paring knife or one of those red plastic handle serrated knives from Victorinox & a bread knife. If you want to learn how to sharpen your own knives then buy the steel & a stone as in the long run you will save money. I think most reputable kitchen ware stores would either run knife sharpening & care classes or be able to put you in touch with someone however don’t let them talk you into the whole kit as I really don’t think you’ll use it. You would be better off putting that money into the best cooks knife you can afford.
It should sit nicely in your hand, almost feeling like an extension of your hand & be weighted accordingly, my knife is heavy and because it’s all I’ve used for the past 20 years I do take it with me when I am away for any length of time, using a global knife as example is just too light for me, it’s all personal taste & what you’re used to.
As far as maintenance goes, the chefs at school used to say to us you’re better off cutting your finger off with a sharp knife than a blunt one as it’s a clean cut and much easier to sew back on as there are no jagged edges for the surgeon. Therefore always keep your knives sharp and make sure everyone in your house knows your knife is sharp and when it’s just been sharpened. Obviously keep it out of reach of children but also away from everything else in your draw – that reduces the chance of you cutting your finger while rummaging for something else in the draw. Never ever put it in the dishwasher regardless of what the packaging or sales person says to you. You have invested a lot of money in this piece of equipment & you need to take care of it so it does last you a life time. A wash in warm soapy water is all it needs.
Are really a personal preference, I do prefer a timber one but the plastic types are fine too, it is a good idea if you’re going to be doing a heck of a lot of cooking to buy one for meat & one for vegetables & fruit. I have a nice one which I use for presentation, bread & cheese as there is nothing worse than have a slice of brie taste of garlic or onions.
One thing I would definitely recommend is which ever board you choose make sure it’s bigger than your longest knife as there is nothing worse than when you’re chopping something to run out of room, it might sound a bit pedantic but if you’re making vegie soup the last thing you want to have to do is constantly stop chopping because you’ve run out of room or your knife is running over the edge of the board. The other thing that is VERY important and is one of the reasons I struggle to watch other people chop thing is that you put a wet tea towel or dish cloth under your board so it can’t move around while you’re cutting or chopping something – think of it as another way to save your fingers!
I have a scar on my left hand from slicing Banana Loaf when I was 12 I can not for the life of me work out how I did it now that I know how to handle a knife and keep my fingers out of the way so if the place you purchase your knives from also offers a class on chopping techniques then take them up on their offer.
As there are so many on offer and so many different uses I am going to start with the basic set – a small, medium & large sauce pan that should come with a frying pan as well. Again this is one of those areas where if you buy the best you can afford & you take care of them, they should last you a lifetime.
My Mum and I scored big time in the saucepan department, I had been given a frying pan for my 30th birthday, but we decided to take it back and when we went to the shop (What used to be Supply & Demand in Richmond) they had Spring Saucepan sets on sale for about $400 I think, so we both bought some and have ended up with a saucepan set that would set you back over $1000 if you had to replace them.
So I would say only shop for saucepans in the sales, check out online stores as well & if you’re starting out then buy the best stainless steel etc you can afford, at this stage you won’t need much else and can add to it as time goes on. Don’t buy aluminium saucepans as they’re no good for you & I wouldn’t bother with non stick either. However a good quality non stick frying pan is handy.
Seasoning your stainless steel frying pan is a simple as heating it for 2-3 minutes until when you drop some water on it, it sizzles & then adding about a cup of oil, heat until its smoking (Do Not Walk Away) & then turn off and allow to cool, drain off the oil (which can be reused) and wipe out with some paper towel.