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Away-from-home cooking kit


Dakki
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The other night a friend threw an impromptu bbq at her home and Yours Truly was drafted to do the actual cooking, I'm hoping because of my superior skills and not because my conversation would be missed the least among those present. My friend is an excellent hostess but her kitchen equipment is, shall we say, utterly freaking deficient - dull, knife-shaped objects, no cutting board, paper-thin nonstick pans and so on. This being a spur of the moment thing, I'd left my "outside" knives at home in a knife roll, so I ended up doing prep for 4 different dishes for 10 people with my trusty Swiss Army Knife on a plastic plate, hovering over the queso fundido so it wouldn't scorch (and having to watch it with the nylon spatula so -it- wouldn't scorch), using preground spices old enough to vote, margarine and "light salt."

This time the kitchen gods smiled on my efforts (because I'm such a good person - this karma thing actually works) and dinner was a roaring success, but it got me thinking - wouldn't it be neat to carry the bare necessities around in your vehicle, so you'd be ready to cook anywhere at a moment's notice?

I set myself some rules (no perishables, nothing I'd cry about if it got broken, stolen or left behind, the whole thing must fit in a standard-sized backpack or mail bag) and came up with this list. I haven't started assembling it yet and I'd love to hear any input from you guys.

-Chef's knife

The possibility of using a folder (as discussed in this thread) occurred to me but why compromise? I think a standard 8" chef's is compact enough as it is, and it has the advantage of being an actual chef's knife, not an adaptation.

-Paring knife

-Serrated bread knife

-Shears

-Sharpening stone

Nothing big or fancy, just enough to do touchups "in the field," so to speak.

-Tongs

-Two flexible cutting mats

One for poultry, one for not-poultry.

-Small skillet

Cast iron is heavy but I have a feeling this kit would be used for outdoors cooking more than half the time. What do you guys think?

-Small pot

See above.

-Wooden spoon

Hardwood. Gets harder as it scorches, doesn't ruin the food if it does, doesn't scratch your hostess' shiny new pans.

-Spice mill

The kind that you can attach different jars to. I'm pretty sure I've seen these at Ikea?

-Salt and a few assorted whole spices

Black pepper, red pepper, cumin and so on. Just the most basic stuff.

-Cheese grater

Folding is more compact, box gives you more grating choices.

-Small bottle of neutral cooking oil

I'm thinking canola or peanut here, just a plain general purpose oil.

-Basic cleaning kit

Sponge, scrub pad, small bottle of dish soap.

-Sanitizing drops

For fruit and veg.

I'd like to hear your opinions on this matter. Did I miss something? Should I drop something? Do you have any suggestions for a particular item?

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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I have been thinking about this lately as we are planning another self-catered trip.

Knives: what about getting a couple of those colori knives that come with their own sheaths? I'm ordering one next week to check it out. Probably not perfect, but at the price you won't care if you lose one.

Washing up stuff: Tea towels!! You can never have too many and they double up as bandages and pot holders.

I bring a cast iron pan and a non stick when we go away, but if I were thinking of outdoors cookery I would bring my heavy French skillet as it's got a longer handle and I really need to use it more anyway.

Other thoughts: tin foil is handy for many things, including wrapping leftovers. You could consider a plastic box with a lid to keep the smaller stuff together and it could double up as a wash basin. Also maybe a bowl or a pot.

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I'd probably just have a couple of knives, flexible cutting boards, and a wine opener :)

Liquid soap and a sponge to be "fancy"; the same soap could be used for fruit and veg.

Foil - good suggestion. I might add a sheet or two of parchment.

I wouldn't bother w/ any pans. My car isn't big enough. Besides, sometimes I am inspired by the lack of tools in someone's kitchen, and marvel at what we are actually able to make.

My car is currently stocked with a flashlight, Swiss army knife, and wine opener.

Edited by KarenDW (log)

Karen Dar Woon

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Don't forget sauce spoons. Several of us are fans of the Gray Kunz sauce spoon. If I'm traveling by air and think I might be cooking, two of these are the only gear I carry.

Also a peeler.

Good spatulas and maybe a fish turner.

Conceptually I'd divide this project into what can and can't be included in a knife roll. If you get a good ballistic nylon knife roll you can include in it all your knives, tongs, spoons, peeler, grater, spatulas, honing steel, and even a miniature pepper mill.

In terms of the pots, pans and ingredient stuff -- the things that don't fit in a knife roll -- bear in mind that oil might not do well sitting in a car.

I would probably not travel with a sharpening stone. I guess if you have a car the weight doesn't matter, but a honing steel in the knife kit should be enough for travel.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Am I the only slob amongst us? :biggrin: I think an apron is essential especially if I am not expecting to be asked to cook and likely won't be dressed for the task.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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For the grater, get a Microplane (or several). I have an older one that has 3(?) interchangeable surfaces; don't know if they still make that variety.

Second for the tea towels, apron, peeler, and some sealable storage bin that could double as a dishpan.

Pans? I wouldn't bother with small pans if you are suddenly cooking @ a party.

Keep in mind that car storage is rather hostile to spices and oil.

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This is a great thread. Basically we're creating a bug-out bag for cooking. LOL. Incidentally here's mine that I threw together after 9/11. Bug Out Bag Contents in case of Zombies, Anarchy or Financial Collapse.

I volunteered to cook for the boyfriends aunt last Thanksgiving. After asking about what her kitchen was like I was nervous. I had to fly there so was limited in what I could bring.

I brought:

Salt, pepper, spices and my knife

I really wished I had brought my cutting board. She had an odd giant concave wooden board that I had to flip over and use the underside.

I second the silicone spatula, nonstick fry pan and a microplane.

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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I prefer a cook's jacket to an apron but I agree: some kind of protective wear is a must.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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When we go to the beach or other rental, I pack because you just never know.

I take a wok and fill it with my knife, peeler, cutting board, essential spices, wine opener (a must), spatula, small skillet and a few other knick knacks that I know won't be found in the kitchen like a small squirt bottle. I tape the lid on the wok and ready to pack.

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I'm intrigued... Are we discussing a kit which is stored in the car at all times, just in case? To be honest, I can't imagine not being able to pull something together in a host's kitchen, using what is there. It seems strange to me, upon being asked to "help out with this salad", to waltz out to my car, and come back with a rucksack of ingredients and tools. Clearly, if the host is satisfied with the ingredients in his/her own kitchen, who am I to say... your pepper/sage/french thyme is not fresh fresh enough; use mine?

Now, on the other hand, if one is requested, ahead of time, to please cook at the site, then I heartily agree: pack some compact tools which are familiar, and few extra bar towels; maybe an apron.

Maybe I'm spoilt. Other than in a working context (as a personal chef, I cook in others' homes frequently), I rarely feel the need to carry a "kit". The desire for better tools, yes. But rarely a "need". Things will be what they can be, in the circumstance in which they are created.

Karen Dar Woon

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I'm intrigued... Are we discussing a kit which is stored in the car at all times, just in case? To be honest, I can't imagine not being able to pull something together in a host's kitchen, using what is there. It seems strange to me, upon being asked to "help out with this salad", to waltz out to my car, and come back with a rucksack of ingredients and tools. Clearly, if the host is satisfied with the ingredients in his/her own kitchen, who am I to say... your pepper/sage/french thyme is not fresh fresh enough; use mine?

Now, on the other hand, if one is requested, ahead of time, to please cook at the site, then I heartily agree: pack some compact tools which are familiar, and few extra bar towels; maybe an apron.

Maybe I'm spoilt. Other than in a working context (as a personal chef, I cook in others' homes frequently), I rarely feel the need to carry a "kit". The desire for better tools, yes. But rarely a "need". Things will be what they can be, in the circumstance in which they are created.

You have voiced a concern that I feel -- if the circumstance is at a friend's house, rather than a client's, there is the possibility of hurt feelings.

Particularly with ingredients; tools not so much.

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What we pack for our annual trips to Italy (apt. rental).

A couple of good sharp knives (24omm gyuto, a petty).

Microplane.

Corkscrew.

Thermopen.

Pepper grinder with good peppercorns.

Small silicone spatula.

Bamboo spatula & spoon.

FLexible cutting boards (pack well and are almost disposable).

Nutmeg grinder thingie & some nutmeg.

Stash of teabags.

Shapton glasstone for touch up of knives.

Veg peeler if you feel lazy.

A small whisk.

Really all that is indispensable are the knives and thermopen. Everything else could be obtained easily and cheaply - one time we ended up unexpectedly spending 2 weeks in an apartment in Venice instead of the hotel we'd booked. A folding Opinel and a swiss army knife sufficed for food prep. The biggest issue I see in rental apartments (and other people's kitchens for that matter) is the lack of decent knives. Even an Opinel is light years better than what you usually encounter assuming it is sharp. The thermopen is nice to have.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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