12 January 2012

Getting It Together

Well, I must say that I am embarrassed. I thought that I could handle this blogging thing and it was starting to look like I was wrong. Until now, that is. In my defense I will tell you that I have had a couple of technical setbacks. I have also experienced a surge in work. Now, though, I am settling into the groove of things and have decided to not let life get in my way. It's past thyme for me to get it together.

In the spirit of getting things together I have decided to let you into my world a little bit. Those of you who have followed my humble blog have left me some encouraging comments. So I would like to show any who are interested what I use to do what I do. My point here is to show you that you don't need a lot of flashy equipment. You don't need to remodel your kitchen and have the hot, new stove and oven installed. The secret, and I truly believe this, is that you must have the desire to make good food. Sometimes we cook a new recipe, or we improvise a new dish and it fails utterly and completely. This has happened to me countless times (just ask my Mom about the pesto pizza and the grease fire). I will eat burned mistakes because I just don't want to waste the food. All of this has not made me want to quit cooking and trying new things. Take heart and persevere, because you will often succeed brilliantly.

Along the way I have picked up a mish-mash of kitchen items that I use to produce all of my food. Some things are very valuable, some were found at garage sales, some were gifts, and many were hand-me-downs. They all work just how I like them, or rather, they all work just how I would like them to. Come into my home and see for yourself.

This is my kitchen. My house is old and funky. The kitchen is small and has no dishwasher. The stove is gas (yippee!) but nothing fancy. 99% of the recipes I have blogged about have been made in this kitchen.

Now, lets have a look at my knives. Your knives are your most important item in your kitchen. This is where most of my money has been invested. A few nice ones were gifts, too. The top two are my most prized blades. They were hand made by Shinichi Watanabe in Japan. The bottom two are Wusthoff Classic (my preferred style of blade that is top quality and widely available). I use the 10" Wusthoff a lot while the smaller one gets most of its use from The Missus or The Kid.

The rest of my blades are a collection of cheap things that work well. The curved blades are for boning and fish filleting. I got them from work (for free!). The paring knives just showed up; the Wusthoff paring knife was a gift and the paring knife with the white handle probably came from a restaurant that I worked in years ago (I've had it for about 15 years, at least). I use these knives a lot because I can just toss them around. If they break, no biggie. For more important jobs I get out the good steel. Oh, I have no idea where the serrated knife came from but they are great to have.

I store my most used knives on a magnetic bar (the Watanabe Blades get their own special box). The rest of my knives are stored in a drawer.

A good knife needs a good cutting board. I like Boos Blocks. I bought one new and refurbished an old one (I got it free) myself.

Once you have something to cut with and something to cut on you will need something to cook in. Pans are good. This is where you can really save some money. Take a look at what I have and I'll show you how.
Garage Sale: $25 for all.

Thrift store finds and hand-me-downs.

Good cast iron pans are great to have. Lodge makes great stuff. Mine belonged to my great-grandmother. They are probably about 100 years old. Take good care of them and they will last longer than you.

The above pots and pans see equal use. My Dutch ovens don't get quite as much cook time but I do use them for small batches of soups, stews, and casseroles. I have a cast iron Dutch oven but since my family is small I usually favor these. They are Le Creuset and I love them (they were gifts).

What shall we stir with? My favorite utensils are wooden spoons.

It's also handy to have some stainless steel spoons and spatulas (spatuli?)

Rubber spatulas and scrapers are a must. I picked some of this stuff up at a local restaurant supply store. If there is one in your area then I recommend you get to know them. They are a great source for new equipment at good, fair prices. I also have some other things in this picture that I use frequently: wire whisk, offset spatula (frosting), microplane grater (citrus zest and hard cheese), a pastry fork for mashing stuff, and a vegetable peeler.

I keep all this stuff in utensil crocks on the counter so that they are always nearby when I cook.

I like to bake. Sheet pans are very handy in this area (another great thing to get at a restaurant supply store). Here are some of my baking needs.

(Okay, I don't absolutely NEED the corkscrew when I bake. But it does come in handy.)

I use these next two items in both baking and cooking. They are not cheap but I have come to find that they are essential in my kitchen. Consider this a good investment.

Finally, I like to keep a bowl of coarse sea salt, fine grain salt, a pepper mill, and a bowl of sugar at hand on the counter.

And when I wake up in the morning I MUST have my tea. Toast is nice, too.

There you have it. These are the items that see most of the action in my kitchen. I have other bowls, bread pans, and various items for various tasks. Most of it I have collected over the years. So go to garage sales, go to thrift stores, ask your Mom if she doesn't need that pan anymore. You don't need to go to the fancy kitchen store and drop $600 on a full set of All Clad and another $1000 on a full set of knives. All you need to do is cook and keep your knives sharp. What are you waiting for? Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I don't own a microwave.


  1. Awesome equipment bro! Love the new blog post

  2. Thanks for sharing your kitchen. I love to see where peeps do their creating, and I find the most pristine and 'fancy' kitchens rarely have the best creations.

    My best,

  3. I love your kitchen! Fun and funky is a good thing. Reminds me of my house on Lovers Lane in Arlington built in the early 50s. Tile countertops and no dishwasher appliance, but we did have a microwave. I could probably live without my microwave now, but I think I'm addicted to my dishwasher.

    1. I confess. I do wish I had a dishwasher.

  4. This is the best line: The secret, and I truly believe this, is that you must have the desire to make good food.

    You are also the only guy I know that has almost as much kitchen stuff as I do!

  5. Thanks John. And those are just my most used items. I have roasting pans, pie pans, bread pans, many gadgets I never use (I dislike gadgets), a gnocchi board, and, my most prized possession of all, a real cassole from the Languedoc.