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11 Essential Kitchen Tools |  1 2 3
continued from 1

5 a 12" skillet, teflon-coated or cast-iron

Iíve got both, although I must confess I use the teflon-coated one more often. Cast-iron skillets are terrific because they last forever, are very cheap, and, since the metal absorbs cooking oils, rapidly develop a natural anti-stick coating. Drawbacks, however, are that 1) the iron can interact with acidic ingredients and change the flavor/color of your dishes, and 2) youíll need to already possess/ be willing to develop extremely strong muscles to lift them. A teflon-coated heavy-duty aluminum skillet, on the other hand, will also be quite affordable and, as an added bonus, light and very easy to clean. This is probably the best choice for most beginning cooks; be forewarned, however, that even exercising the most extreme vigilance and care when cleaning [i.e. never ever use anything abrasive on the surface] will not prevent the coating from eventually beginning to flake off.

6 a stockpot, with lid, 6 quart capacity minimum
7 a saucepan, with lid, 3-4 quart capacity

Good pots are insanely expensive. Ideally, youíll want your pots to be stainless steel and heavy-bottomed. Moving sales/estate sales are good places to look for good-quality pots at bargain prices. But can you make do with a cheap aluminum stockpot? Sure; youíll just have to pay more attention to what youíre cooking to ensure that itís cooking evenly and not burning on the bottom.

8 a plastic/metal spatula, for use with your skillet

Make sure that if you do have a teflon-coated pan, you use a plastic spatula. A metal spatula will scrap the coating right off Ė and who wants little flecks of teflon floating around in their food?

9 a large colander

Get as large a colander as you can find. Heavy-duty plastic will do just fine, although the stainless steel ones do look quite pretty. Hint: a colander with holes for drainage is preferable to a colander that uses slits for drainage [the ones that use slits seem to break more easily, plus thin noodles have a tendency to slide right through.]

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