Help with re-setting up my kitchen

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-16-2013
Help with re-setting up my kitchen
17
Thu, 03-13-2014 - 12:13pm

So I am not a younger woman just starting out in life; I am an older woman trying to learn how to really cook. I have the basic stove, oven, and microwave. I have some pots and pans and a few glass baking dishes but one woman on here says they might not be the best idea. So, what I would like some input on is what I really need as far as tools and utensils, etc to properly set up my kitchen for learning to cook. I also need to know what is a good brand cookware. Do I need to do something like Pampered Chef or can I get what I need at Walmart? I hope this makes sense and thank you for your help.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Thu, 03-13-2014 - 1:08pm

As long as you have the basics, a cheap set of pots and pans, and a set of good knives, I would actually start cooking before investing in additional utensils.  Every chef has his/her own preferences, some tolerate non-stick (and there are different kinds from the cheap teflon to titanium), some swear by stainless or copper, etc. 

In addition, what you need is based on what kind of cooking/baking you do.  Glass bakeware is perfectly fine for casseroles, but may not be that great for puff pastry. 

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 03-13-2014 - 2:16pm

Everyone who REALLY cooks, has their own ideas about what is "best".  And what works for one person, does not always work for another.  I agree with D, keep what you have.  I wouldn't even buy knives untill you know how to use, and sharpen them, properly, or you will cut your fingers off.   Go get some cooking lessons.  Most community colleges have adult ed classes in cooking, and once you get started, you will have a better idea of what you can't live without.

Community Leader
Registered: 02-27-1999
Thu, 03-13-2014 - 7:46pm

Free cooking lessons right here at iVillage!  I agree that you have to start with what you have and build as you learn.  But I can guarantee you will find that heavy cookware beats flimsy, thin walled cheap stuff.  My go-to's are cast iron, Corningware, and a vintage set of Club Aluminum Waterless cookware.  

You only need 4 basic knives:  a good 8 inch chef's knive, a boning knife, a 6 inch utility knife, and a paring knife.  Sharp knives don't cut people...dull ones do.  Get a steel and a sharpener.  

What sort of cooking do you like to do?


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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 03-13-2014 - 10:29pm

*I* would not use aluminum cookware that contacts the food, nor would I use Teflon.  There are safe alternatives.  Why take the chance?  However, what you do is up to you.

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/165315-clinical#a0216

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=15+1829&aid=2874

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 10:51am

Agree 100% that sharp knives are actually much safer than dull knives! 

To elaborate on cookware, many years ago I started out with a cheap set of enamel cookware when I first "set up house" living in a modified garage.  (Was the typical starving college student and the garage was the only place I could afford and call it my own).  These days I use a mix of Scanpan CTQ (ceramic-titanium nonstick surface) and Mauviel stainless because both are induction cooktop competible.  I have gas, but my mother has induction, and I often bring food to her house in a pot.  While I am not a huge fan of nonstick, it does give the option of cooking oil-free (or with very little oil) as some family members have dietary restrictions.

My favorite bakeware are Nordicware, USA Pans (yes, aluminum and perfectly safe), and de Buyer.  The first two are made in the USA, the last one is French.  While quality bakeware costs more to start with, they perform much better than the made in China junk and last a long time - I have cake pans and baking sheets from over 20 years ago that are still in excellent shape!

Go to a specialty store like a Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table and look around, ask questions, and learn about what quality cookwares are like.  Some (not all) of the sales people are very knowledgeable.  One lady at the Sur la Table I shop actually has a culinary arts degree and worked as a pastry chef.  You can always look for the same kind of cookware at garage sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army Store, and/or Craigslist.  I have bought some very nice, slightly used stuff for less than half-price. 

I learned everything about cooking and baking from reading books and have taken only ONE cooking class in my entire life (was actually a gift from a good friend who knows I love to cook) - an evening with some chefs at a Four Seasons Hotel (which was excellent but you have to know the basics first).  With all those videos available on YouTube, there is no compelling reason to pay for courses at a community college.

Happy cooking!

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 11:55am

I am a health care professional, and years ago, my dh & I made the concious choice to eliminate Teflon and aluminum.  It MAY be "perfectly safe", but there is evidence to the contrary, and so we decided that the health of our family was more important than aluminum cookie sheets, or Club pans.  I also have Scanpan, however despite the claims, Scanpan DOES chip and scratch--as does Swiss Diamond.  But they stand behind their warrenty.  I have had my entire set replaced, one piece at a time.  I also have Lodge Logic cast iron, de Buyer carbon steel, enamel-on-cast, Norpro stainless, Pyrex, and Corning ware.  My knives are Victorinox, Wusthof, Cutco, and a few fun to use Komachi 2's.  I have a LOT more than 4, and I sharpen them regularly.

However there is no need for a beginning cook to go to this expense. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 4:37pm

Apologies to all for taking this slightly off topic, but I would like to address a few things:

1.  There is a difference between infromation from peer-reviewed research papers and personal opinions/choices.  So far no paper in PubMed is 100% against using aluminum cookware/bakeware.  There is also a huge difference between aluminum and anodized aluminum.  Anodized aluminum is non-porous, harder than stainless steel, and does not leach aluminum to the food.  It is great that you make a decision not to use aluminum, but there is no need to put others down if they choose to use it.

Simply because I only cook with organic pasture-raised dairy products does not give me the right to tell strangers to stay away from conventional dairy.  I don't know the personal beliefs, priorities, economic circumstances, etc. of most people on these forums and it seems a bit overbearing and presumptuous to state a personal choice as gospel.

2.  The mileage of Scanpans may vary.  Mine are over 10 years old and have not had a single chip.

3.  A set of four good knives is actually quite sufficient even for "advanced" cooks.  I lived with a French for several years.  His grandmother lived in a tiny apartment in Paris (with living expenses 30% higher than NYC, everyone, except multi-millionaires, lives in shoeboxes) and turned out the most delicious meals with a two-burner stove in a kitchen the size of my walk-in closet.  I don't believe she had more than a few knives, or pots and pans, for that matter.  Everytime I am tempted to waste money on some fancy gadgets, I tell myself, "Grandmere did not have, nor need, this in her kitchen".  Ultimately the cook matters much, much more than the kitchen.

4.  So many people call themselves "health care professional" these days the term is meaningless.  The education and training of a phlebotomist is vastly difference from a neurosurgeon.  I recall from another post that you are a dental hygienist?

Now let's get back to food.  ;-)

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 8:28pm

I did not state my personal choice as "gospel".  I stated QUITE CLEARLY that "what you do is up to you".  You all are sitting on the largest, most comprehensive library in the world.  Look things up for yourselves.  HOWEVER, you don't know what you don't know.  If no one makes mention of the fact that aluminum and Teflon are toxic, then someone may never have the impetus to investigate. 

And yes, I am a Registered Dental Hygienist, with a Bachelors degree.  Besides the education I received during the course of my studies, I also take continuing healthcare related education every year--and have done so for the past 20 years.  I also worked in the health insurance field for 20 years BEFORE I entered Dental Hygiene.  I am not a neurosurgeon, nor do I play one on TV.  But I DO have more healthcare knowledge than a checker at Walmart, or the President of the United States.  As far as memory serves me, you are not, nor have been, involved in ANY healthcare field, at ANY level whatsoever.  But that is neither here nor there.  The checker at Walmart is free to peruse the World Wide Web, and come to their own conclusions. 

As for Grandmere not having, nor needing (something) in her kitchen, Grandmere also did not have a microwave, a front-loading washer, an automatic shift car or a smart phone.  But I bet she would have used them if they were available--and she could afford them.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 8:55pm

Oh BTW, as regards Scanpan, and the fact that one is sitting upon the largest source of information in the world, one only has to Google "scanpan chipping", "scanpan scratching", scanpan rubbish", "SCAMpan", etc, to find the experiences of a VAST number of people, not just me.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Sat, 03-15-2014 - 1:59pm

For the OP, some food for thought (pun intended).  I am not saying these people are 100% right, but each have some good ideas and valid points and hopefully you can synthesize them and come up with something that works for you!

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/dining/09mini.html?ex=1336449600&en=270a01b651410dd7&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink&_r=0

http://www.thekitchn.com/essential-kitchen-equipment-5-guides-to-help-171152

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/10-must-have-essentials-for-a-first-kitchen-175261

http://www.examiner.com/article/equipment-needed-for-a-basic-kitchen-set-up

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/tools-products/cookware-bakeware/kitchen-tools-checklist-00000000001975/

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