Some basic equipment is necessary to cook at home. If you don’t already have them, here’s a list of some of basic equipment. Just links, no merchandizing.
1. Chef’s knife. The Wusthof Pro is a best buy for a 8-inch chef’s knife, about $30 at Amazon: Wusthof-Trident Pro Series 8″ Chef Knife or get Cook’s Illustrated’s favorite, the Victorinox 8 Inch Swiss Classic Chef’s Knife for $40. A sharpener is also essential.
2. Paring knife. The Victorinox 47508 3-1/4-Inch Paring Knife, like the Chef’s Knife, is good quality and low priced. ($9 on Amazon, where it get 4.5 stars in customer reviews.) At Amazon: Victorinox 47508 3-1/4-Inch Paring Knife
3. Salad spinner. The Oxo Salad Spinner is the easiest to use of all. ($24 on Amazon, with over 500 reviews and 4.5 stars) At Amazon: OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner
4. Mixing bowls. Glass mixing bowls are best. Glass is nonreactive to any ingredient you might put in it. And the bowls are microwaveable. The Pyrex 4-quart mixing bowl is good. At Amazon: Pyrex Prepware 4-Quart Rimmed Mixing Bowl, Clear
5. Liquid measuring cup. Like the Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup. At Amazon: Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup
6. Hand blender. Used to make mayonnaise, sauces and soups. The Cuisinart Smart Stick is good, about $35.
7. Slow cooker. Low temperature, slow cooking. Broth, soups, stews. Perfect. Simple is best.If you don’t need a built-in timer, the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6-quart slow cooker is under $30. For a programmable slow cooker, the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker is about $40 (on sale it’s been about $34) or the Hamilton Beach 33969A Set ‘n Forget at about $50.
8. Box grater. Better than a food processor for quickly shredding vegetables, cheese or whatever else needs to be shredded or sliced. For about $15 at Amazon: Microplane Professional Extra Coarse Grater
9. Cookware. Stainless steel cookware is the best for every day cooking. It’s practically nonstick and stainless steel is nonreactive with anything you put in it. They are indestructible, easy to clean and will last forever. How to make stainless steel nonstick? One simple step is required: always heat the pan before you put anything into it. The triple-ply pans heat quicker and more evenly than any others and is nice to have if you can afford the extra cost. Otherwise, the basic stainless steel cookware is good for everyday use. Sometimes you can find a deal on a set on sale (or on ebay or craig’s list where someone is getting rid of a gift they’ve never used). If you get a set you might want to get additional pans left out of the set. If you need saucepans and a skillet to get started, the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Cookware is good quality for everyday cooking and sold at a low price compared to the professional triple-ply pots and pans. The basic 7-piece (2 saucepans, a skillet and a stockpot with 3 lids) set can get you started and is under a hundred dollars. Stainless steel pans are best, they don’t react with the food and when used properly food shouldn’t stick to them.
Just a skillet? The fancy triple-ply skillets are over a hundred dollars each. The 10″ Cuisinart MultiClad Fry Pan is only $40, and is the best of the low-priced multi-layer skillets.
Cast iron is an excellent alternative to stainless steel. It’s indestructible and will last forever. The Lodge Pre-Seasoned 10.5″ Cast Iron Skillet is less than $17 or the bigger 12″ Victoria Skillet Fry Pan is $30. The Lodge Enameled Cast-Iron 11-Inch Skillet is about $50. The top-line Le Creuset enameled skillet is about $200.
Large saucepan? The best is the Cuisinart Multiclad 4-Quart Saucepan. They also make a 2-Quart Saucepan. The 4-quart is about $48 and the 2-quart is about $35.
10. A colander. The over the sink strainers are good, such as this Stainless-Steel Sink Strainer. For a regular “bowl with holes,” there’s the Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-Quart Colander.
11. A funnel such as this Collapsible Funnel
12. Wooden spoons like this Wooden Spoon.
13. Coffee maker. The Bodum Coffee Press is the basic and most common model.
14. Vegetable peeler like the Oxo Good Grips Pro Peeler, or the Y-shaped Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler, three for a little under $10. Peelers get dull just like a knife. It’s easy to sharpen your peeler using a paring knife. Watch a video on how to do it at www.chow.com.