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Helping your non-foodie friends set up a kitchen


Dakki
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I'm not sure where you are located, but perhaps you can find a copy of Canadian Living Step by Step. Not exactly basic, but simple, yummy goodness. With photos.

Most recipes serve 6-8. Unfortunately, freezing instructions are not included.

My previously mentioned book suggestion has recipes for 2 :)

Karen Dar Woon

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The Mark Bittman book referenced earlier is a great start, I think.

For a novice cook? I would never suggest a scale until they are truly comfortable with baking. Measuring cups, sure, but even then I think cooking and not baking is the way in for a single guy just trying to eat better. If he gets obsessed with precision then it's a good time to suggest a scale.

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I'll tell him the relative importance of the scale in cooking and baking and let him decide if he needs it.

The cooking people on our forum are all starting to bake now and he might want to as well.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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The Mark Bittman book referenced earlier is a great start, I think.

For a novice cook? I would never suggest a scale until they are truly comfortable with baking. Measuring cups, sure, but even then I think cooking and not baking is the way in for a single guy just trying to eat better. If he gets obsessed with precision then it's a good time to suggest a scale.

Strong agreement from me.

I wouldn't even suggest scales to your friend at this point.

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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For a "beginning cook", the only practical use for scales, which I can support, would be for portion control :)

So, if your friend can pick up an inexpensive scale, he could purchase foods in bulk (i.e., a larger package of meat), then divide into portions, wrap and freeze. And be able to cook dinner without having to think, too much, about shopping.

Karen Dar Woon

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For a "beginning cook", the only practical use for scales, which I can support, would be for portion control :)

So, if your friend can pick up an inexpensive scale, he could purchase foods in bulk (i.e., a larger package of meat), then divide into portions, wrap and freeze. And be able to cook dinner without having to think, too much, about shopping.

Excellent idea. Presented in this light, the thought of weighing ingredients is not in the forefront. DH weighs the dogs' portions all the time. But then we own several sets of scales and they are constantly used. Wonder how I ever managed without scales???? :hmmm:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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If the budget for equipment and books is about $200, it may possible for us to be more helpful if we knew what the guy would like to cook. What are his interests starting out? For books, you might list 2 general cook books and 2 or 3 in his interest areas...and then suggest he check them out of a library and see which ones appeal to him before he buys any of them. People learn differently and are attracted to and work better with different approaches, book designs and authors' voices.

The list that Dave and Janet use (above) is a good one, but $200 is not even going to buy all the "basics". A focus will help selecting the minimum he needs to cook what appeals to him.

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It's not a hard budget really - I just set myself a goal to find non-intimidating prices for good quality stuff. We've both been members in another, non-food-related forum where the local foodies try to intimidate civilians with tales of high-end enamelware, prosumer appliances and knives forged by magical dwarves in the Black Forest.

As far as interests go, he claims he likes the Army, pickup trucks, guns, liquor and loose women. (Yeah I went and asked...) Foodwise I know he uses a Mexican-style sweetbreads recipe I taught him, also grilling steaks and breakfast-type food (eggs, hash browns, bacon, country sausage). Just picture the most stereotypical young enlisted man from the Deep South you can and you'll have a pretty good idea of who this is, actually.

Edited by Dakki (log)

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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$200 is just about enough to pick up the "miscellaneous" of a kitchen, never mind getting to the core stuff. It's certainly doable if you're willing to shop around and find great bargains but don't expect to make a single sweep though amazon or target to get everything.

Here would be my super optimistic budget:

1 10" Used Cast Iron Skillet - $10

1 Used 4qt heavy bottomed saucepan - $5

1 Used pasta pot - $5

1 Forschner Chefs Knife - $30

1 paring knife - $10

1 OXO peeler - $10

1 OXO can opener - $20

1 Cheapie grater - $5

1 measuring cup - $5

1 Set of bamboo chopping boards - $10

1 baking dish - $20

1 set of storage containers - $30

1 probe thermometer - $25

That's $205 right there and that's optimistically pricing everything. Stretch to $500 and you'll have the core of a kitchen set for life (ie: buy the right tool now to save trading up to it in 3 years).

PS: I am a guy.

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$200 is just about enough to pick up the "miscellaneous" of a kitchen, never mind getting to the core stuff. It's certainly doable if you're willing to shop around and find great bargains but don't expect to make a single sweep though amazon or target to get everything.

1 OXO can opener - $20

1 Cheapie grater - $5

That's $205 right there and that's optimistically pricing everything. Stretch to $500 and you'll have the core of a kitchen set for life (ie: buy the right tool now to save trading up to it in 3 years).

:unsure: As a STRONG believer in not buying so cheap that the item is difficult to use or will need replacement, I would substitute a SwingAway can opener, and most definitely a Microplane for a 'garbage' grater. And what about a colander or other strainer?

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My son, who is off to college in the fall, recently picked up a Cookbook called Starting Out, The Essential Guide to Cooking on Your Own. It has sections on buying tools and appliances for your kitchen, stocking the pantry, how to read labels, how to buy produce, applying heat etc. It's got a section on making stocks as well. (Ok, it also has a section on how to do your laundry, and presumably your friend already knows that) :)

The book uses real fresh ingredients and the recipes vary. There are breakfasts, lunches, dinners, stews etc in it. it gives tips on what to do with leftovers and variations on the basic recipe. It's a very well written and humourous book, and while it may seem to be geared to a college student, I don't think it is. I think anyone just starting to cook from this would enjoy it and learn from it.

Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Oh yeah, one other tip that took me a suprisingly long time to realize: Oven safe pans can double as bakeware in a pinch and are often superior. I barely ever use sheet pans or pyrex anymore. Instead, I use my cast iron skillet for roasts & my anodized aluminum pans for things I don't want to stick like roast potatoes.

Pretty much the only things I consistently use sheet pans for now are broiling red bell peppers. I would happily recommend not including any bakeware in the starter set and applying that money towards upgrading the rest of the kit.

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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Here's a link to a "beginner" cookbook that's getting some good reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Cook-Food-Manualfesto-Healthy-Eating/dp/1604860731/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266211591&sr=1-1 , and here's a review of the book: http://www.alternet.org/health/144351?page=entire

According to the review, it's mostly vegan recipes w/some suggestions for some dairy additions, but is useful for non-vegans too since it focuses on the idea that people can learn to cook tasty inexpensive meals that don't take forever. I looked at one of the recipes on the blog, it called for steaming & offered an explanation of what steaming is (or what you use), which could be helpful to someone w/no cooking experience or background such as helping a parent, other relative or friend prepare meals from scratch.

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