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Updating the Kitchen Essentials


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What is old KitchenAid and what is new KitchenAid? Mine is circa 1985.

Yours is pre purchase by Whirlpool and considered an "Old" Kitchenaid. Hobart actually sold the Kitchenaid division to Dart & Kraft in 1980 but the manufacturing remained the same. Whirlpool bought the division in 1986 and continued the same manufacturing process.

It was in 1989 that Whirlpool retooled and changed the manufacturing process and "cheapened" the product. The newer models made during the past 5 years or so are much improved over those made during the 1990s and well into the 2000s.

I burnt out two of those made during the 2000s and got replacements for both. I then got the 6-quart which has worked okay but when I need to process a very stiff dough, I use my DLX.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've been thinking about this thread for a few weeks and paid attention to what tools I use often. My list is as follows:

knives (obviously), especially an 8" and 10" chefs

stirrers, especially a pair of woodfiber laminate paddles

tongs, specifically, a silicone tipped tweezer-type one

iced-tea spoon (my ghetto Kunz spoon, especially for testing sauces and samples)

immersion blender (for the obvious uses)

kitchen shears (mostly for opening packaging)

pastry scraper (mostly for moving stuff from cutting board to pot)

silicone spatula (to clear pots and bowls of product)

hotpads (for the obvious use)

electric scale (ditto)

cutting boards (ditto)

vegetable peeler (ditto)

Thermapen (guess)

There are others, of course, but that's my main "go to" list.

Edited by pbear (log)
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If it went, I would have to replace it the same day.

The old KitchenAids are great. I read lots of reviews complaining about plastic parts failing on recent models, so I spent the extra money for a Viking. But who knows, they might have fixed their recent problems.

http://www.amazon.co...duct/B0007WLJ3I

Do you like it? I have Viking cookware and I love it. They make a solid product.

I have both a KitchenAid (circa 1992) and a Viking. My KA is a tilt-head model with a smaller bowl (only 4.5 quarts), and it's just not big enough to handle a whole batch of many of the bread dough recipes I enjoy. After one too many hair-pulling-out disasters, I got a Viking with a 7 quart bowl, which has no problems making bread dough recipes that call for 1 kg of flour. However, I still use my KA for things like cake batter and cookie dough, as I think the smaller bowl is easier to handle for smaller amounts.

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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  • 1 year later...

Hello,

I am a newly single (male), absolutely useless in a kitchen and hoping to change that. I am moving to Montreal (Canada) and setting my new kitchen from scratch. I am looking to figure out what combination of kitchen gadgets will allow me to cook widest variety (of hopefully healthy) foods. I am happy to invest in higher-price gadgets if they really do make things easier. I am hoping to start by cooking easy newbie foods, then graduating to learning to cook complex foods. Since I am single, I am also interesting in the bulk cooking/cooking for the freezer approach.

 

Currently, the primary gadget/tool I identified is Thermomix (at the higher end of my price sensitivity). So, now I am looking for something to compliment its abilities. I guess it would be something that does high-temperature, something that does slow-cooking. I found a combination slow/pressure/rice/saute cooker (InstantPot brand), not sure if that's the right second gadget. Maybe a Halogen Oven too. Do I still need a microwave?

 

Any advice would be appreciated. Again, I am a newbie, so don't need gadgets that allow a skilled cook to make master dishes. I need something that will allow making good dishes for a person still clueless in the kitchen.

Regards,
   Alex.

Edited by arafalov (log)
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I am not sure what you consider to be "gadgets", but I would say the most important tool in any kitchen is a good knife. Then some decent pans.

 

Keep it simple. Buy tools as you find you need them. Don't buy them until you are more than sure you need them.

 

The majority of gadgets get used once or twice then spend the next ten years doing nothing but taking up space.

 

Save that money for buying better ingredients! 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Sit down and think what you will be cooking the next 6 months and what you need for that. It is better to start out small and add on, then go for the full hog at once.  

What I need as minimum for cooking healthy is  3 sturdy cutting board, 1 sharp knife,  2 metal bowls  one large and one small, a  Dutch oven,  a frying pan ( cast iron) and 2 heavy bottom sauce pots 1 litre and 5 litre, handheld mixer and a spice mill or pestle and mortar.

 

I help my brother with  cooking for the freezer, this month we made lasagne, chilli,  samosas and chick pea curry.  

Edited by CatPoet (log)

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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Thank you very much for the quick advice. I am afraid "buy as you need" is exactly opposite to what I am trying to achieve. I am trying to shortcut the process of buying 5 different gadgets and then discovering that there is a one super-gadget that does all those jobs and cheaper than those individual gadgets combined. I am ready to pay premium for something that does multiple functions well. That way, I hope, I will be constantly using the same set of tools for various purposes rather than having a bunch of unused single-purpose items taking up space.

 

I guess you could say I am looking for that "minority of gadgets" that get used over and over again in different scenarios.

 

As to "think through the next six month of cooking", I wish I could. It's a catch-22 situation as I don't know what I can do yet and therefore don't know what I will need. I know I want to do winter dishes (soups, etc), but also just try to do all sorts of stuff if - with the right combo-gadget - it is easy.

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The answer partly depends on whether you're more a of gadget freak or a utility/order freak. Alterantively, consider how you do most other things: do you lean more towards casual and relaxed, or deliberate and precise?

 

If you're a gadget freak, you'll never regret having something that turns hotdogs into cephalopods, even if you only get to bust out that gadget once every quarter century. This isn't me, so I won't venture to give advice, other than 'as long as it doesn't kill your budget, enjoy yoursellf, and get things that look interesting; you'll find a way to make decent food'.

 

If you're a utility/order freak, go slow. Editing is everything, since every time you open a drawer and see a lingering, useless space hog that cost you good money, it will bug you. I was lucky to be ble to find out that this is me before I left from home, and was able to plan accordingly.

 

I relied quite a bit on Cook's Illustrated (yes, they can be aggravating, but also, useful) for their suggestions and reviews.

 

Initially, my kitchen looked like it had been briefly occupied overnight by a balleerina and a soldier of fortune, both of whom hurriedly decamped, abandoning the stuff they'd used to make dinner the evening before: there was a hot-plate, an 'brunch set' (consisting of a periwinkle-blue, asymmetrical plate and matching cappucino cup), a remarkably cute tablespoon, a bunch of chopsticks hoarded from takeaway, and a boot knife that had been retired from 'active' duty (i.e. making regularly wonder whether carrying a knife didn't just mean I was upping my chances of being stabbed with my own shiv) to serve as a kitchen implement.

 

Slowly, I added a fork (so my visiting sister could eat, too), a very basic set of dishes, a few pots and pans, a cutting board that tolerated boiling water, a bread knife, a chef's knife, and a paring knife. Getting a boyfriend who did not find living like a pirate 'cosy' meant the addition of more flatware and a whisk for egg dishes.

 

If you have a microwave, keep it. Turns out those things are way more useful for a lot more things than popularly believed.

 

Hold off on expensive, elaborate gadgets until you're quite certain you'll use them regularly (e.g. my boyfriend is dying to get a sous vide cooker, but I'm reluctant, since neither of us is particularly enthusiastic about the results you get when cooking sous vide; the vacuum sealer he got me tends to gather a lot of dust, since it's mostly used to reseal the containers he got to store coffee, so we'd have a use for the vacuum sealer). A reliable oven (and cooktop, or any other equipment, for that matter) tends to be more important/useful than a specialized one.

 

ETA: Not a gadget, but indespensible, if you want any sort of predictability regarding outcome: a reliable cookbook. Also, looking through your cookbook can give you an idea of which gadgets to start with, based on the recipes that really grab you.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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If you're still new to cooking, I wouldn't necessary go with the really expensive pieces first. Yes, you can cook basic dishes with a Theromix, but that is kind of a waste of money, IMO. Machines are fun but until you know what you like to cook, they may end up just sitting there collecting dust. Don't get me wrong, I am not against machines. In fact, I love them too much. Which means I end up with quite a few of them in storage and some of them don't even get use once a year. :wacko: Another reason not to rush into it: new products are always being released. If you buy a bunch of machines now, before you know what you really want them for, chances are, you will end seeing something you like better a few months down the road, and it may end up suiting your cooking style better.

 

I have a multi cooker (rice cooker, slow cooker, sear, risotto) and it works for me. I have a small kitchen and it replaced by old rice cooker. Other than rice, I make porridge, soups and stews in it. It has a deep basket so it's great for steaming as week. I do use it at least 3-4 times a week.

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I'd get the following if I were setting up a new kitchen:

 

1. Microplane graters (extra coarse, medium and fine). Sets you up for grating pretty much everything.

2. A good chef's knife, a good paring knife and a steel. You can do very well with only these two knives. If you feel you need a more specialised knife, you'll know what to get. If not, you don't need it. Wüsthof do good knives, but really, there are plenty of brands that will serve you well.

3. A vegetable/fruit peeler.

4. A cast iron skillet. Lodge are good over there, I've heard(?)

5. A sauté pan

6. A dutch oven

7. Good cutting boards.

8. A pressure cooker. This you can take or leave, but it opens up a lot of shortcuts in terms of stock making and braising.

9. A digital scale. Weight, not volume. Say it again! Weight! Not! Volume! *cheering*

 

You sound like you like to go in for optimal solutions with a lot of forethought. That's an admirable trait, but for cooking you will find that you grow into new techniques (and equipment) over time. I think being "saddled" with a fully kitted-out kitchen can feel pretty daunting—and perhaps even alienating—especially if you are, as you say "useless" in the kitchen presently.

 

Getting the Thermomix feels a little bit like getting ahead of yourself. On paper it's a neat gadget and a powerful blender/etc, but while reading around I found the recipes to be focused more on all-in-one dishes you could set and forget, and less about the Thermomix as a situational tool. The whole sales model is also a bit too cultish (and Tupperware-like) for my tastes. For the price, what you do get is undoubtedly built very well, but for a beginner, that $1700-2000 can be spend a lot better on the very basics.

Edited by flippant (log)
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Agree with what everybody said. Flippant's  list would be mine, less the pressure cooker and with a 1 and 3 qt sauce pan, a teflon omelet pan, and a medium saute pan.

 

The all-in-one gadgets would go unused by me, except a rice cooker.

 

Esp if you get into baking a food processor would get used.

 

Sous vide units are now pretty cheap and I use them pretty often.

 

The combi steam oven discussed several places in this forum would probably be the best gadget of all given all that it can do.

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Thank you very much for the quick advice. I am afraid "buy as you need" is exactly opposite to what I am trying to achieve. I am trying to shortcut the process of buying 5 different gadgets and then discovering that there is a one super-gadget that does all those jobs and cheaper than those individual gadgets combined. I am ready to pay premium for something that does multiple functions well. That way, I hope, I will be constantly using the same set of tools for various purposes rather than having a bunch of unused single-purpose items taking up space.

It's not just about the gadget. (And it's certainly not about paying "premium.") It's about the way you and the gadget get along. There's a learning curve, and you have to figure it out by deciding what you like to do, then buying gadgets (or utensils) that are meant for that activity, then using it and discovering whether or not you get along with it. There aren't too many short cuts, it's a process. Small example: I like to bake, and over the years I have bought many offset spatulas. This type, that type, large, small, you name it. After all that, my favorite utensil when I frost or fill most cakes is still the back of a tablespoon. But I had to try out all those offset spatulas in order to find that out. So it's not just about the gadget. (And aside from all that, I agree that a good knife is a must.)

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Pretty much agree with all of the above, though I'd lean toward a stand mixer like the standard model Kitchen Aid before I bought a food processor.

 

And I'll repeat:

 

 

9. A digital scale. Weight, not volume. Say it again! Weight! Not! Volume! *cheering*

 

 

You mention soup, which brings to mind a high power blender like the VitaMix.

 

The ThermoMix is, as mentioned, a bit of a "cult" and for the same amount of money you can easily buy all the other stuff that's been mentioned. Even so, I'm planning to buy one late this year due to an unfortunate obsession with elBulli 2005-2011. :wub:

 

But... all you really need is

1) a good knife

2) a good cutting board

3) a kitchen scale

4) a basic set of quality cookware plus a nonstick frying pan for eggs

5) Miscellaneous hand tools: grater, vegetable peeler, tongs, slotted spoon(s), spatula(s), measuring spoons/cups for the recipes that use volume

 

And...

 

6) That reliable cook book(s) - see threads here on eGullet

 

I lived for years without a toaster and a microwave but "need" them now. If I was starting from zero, I'd think hard about the SmartOven/Combi-Oven that have gotten a lot of coverage here. If you get into almost any kind of meat cookery, baking, or candy making you'll need an instant read thermometer. Don't mess around with anything other than a ThermaPen.

 

You'll know when you "need" the other gadgets.

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As to "think through the next six month of cooking", I wish I could. It's a catch-22 situation as I don't know what I can do yet and therefore don't know what I will need. I know I want to do winter dishes (soups, etc), but also just try to do all sorts of stuff if - with the right combo-gadget - it is easy.

 

And if you don't know what you'll need, how can you decide what "gadgets" to get, whether high end or not.  BTW, I don't consider a Thermomix a gadget ...it strikes me as a major piece of equipment.  How is it that you think you'll "need" a Thermomix?

 

All the advice you've received above is good advice.  Regardless of what else you get, you're still going to need knives, pots, pans, skillets, etc.  IMO, there is no "gadget" that's a panacea for learning to cook.  It seems you're looking for solutions to problems you don't know you have.

 ... Shel


 

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I think that what everyone is trying to get at here, is that gadgets are great, but if you know what you are doing in the kitchen, you don't really need them most of the time because everything they do can be done with traditional techniques (although there are some advantages to gadgets as well).  So a combination pressure/rice/slow cooker is awesome - but if you don't make rice/stews/your own beans from dried or similar types of foods that use that machine very often, then you can just make rice once a month in a pot on the stove in the traditional manner and save yourself a lot of money and counter space.  

 

Is it possible that you can hold off on the machines and invest in some private cooking lessons to help you get started first?  

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I don't know. It just seems to me that you are going about this entirely the wrong way. Buying the latest, "best", trendiest gadgets will not contribute one iota to your learning to cook or to being less clueless. In fact, they are more likely to hamper that.

 

Shakespeare wasn't a great writer because he had a great pen. Michelangelo wasn't a great artist because he had the best brush. Mozart wasn't a great musician because he had the latest banjo.

 

Learn the basics and build on them. 

 

All the suggestions above are very, very sensible.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 3

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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After more thought I think that if in your shoes...and if I was hankering to buy something electrical...I'd buy the combi oven.  Although a bit small it is plenty big enough for one or two people and will do things that nothing else available can do....yet is still useful for the mundane tasks like  toast and reheating pizza.  If you need a toaster oven, you might as well get the combi for a few bucks more

 

After that I'd consider an immersion circulator, a food processor (though I hardly use mine) or a stand mixer (which I use a little) depending on how your cooking evolves.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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honestly, all you really need is a good knife and a couple of pots and pans. the rest will take care of itself over time.

Currently, the primary gadget/tool I identified is Thermomix (at the higher end of my price sensitivity). So, now I am looking for something to compliment its abilities. I guess it would be something that does high-temperature, something that does slow-cooking. I found a combination slow/pressure/rice/saute cooker (InstantPot brand), not sure if that's the right second gadget. Maybe a Halogen Oven too. Do I still need a microwave?

if I were in your shoes, I would get none of these.

listen to your fellow eGulleteers. many of the suggestions provided above will start you off in the right direction, ESPECIALLY since you're a newbie to cooking.

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When it comes to knifes, dont buy the most expensive , fashionable ones  instead find one that suit your hand.

 

For example  Gobal knifes never fits my hand, they are cumbersome and annoying to me, but I love my Victorinox  knifes how ever their fillet knife doesn't suit my hand but  Mora's does, however Mora's  chef knife and me are not friends, to much blood spilled for a chance of friendship there.

 

And if I would get one  gadget, well a   food processors with different disk and attachment to start with.

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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Thank you very much for the quick advice. I am afraid "buy as you need" is exactly opposite to what I am trying to achieve. I am trying to shortcut the process of buying 5 different gadgets and then discovering that there is a one super-gadget that does all those jobs and cheaper than those individual gadgets combined. I am ready to pay premium for something that does multiple functions well. That way, I hope, I will be constantly using the same set of tools for various purposes rather than having a bunch of unused single-purpose items taking up space.

for me, that one super gadget is a French chef's knife. cost less than $20 at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

for others, could be a cleaver and a wok. you can use a wok for all sorts of things, not just Asian food. steaming, for example, or smoking meat or fish, or making scrambled eggs.

what is necessary isn't always expensive.

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Welcome to eGullet. I hope you find this an enjoyable place to be.

 

A general comment here about equipment. Try to avoid gadgets that are good for only one specific task -unitaskers was the term Alton Brown used to use - at least until your skills and interests grow to a point to where that item then makes sense.

 

To the above-suggested items I would add:

 

    A pot or pan large enough to boil pasta and cook beans in. For one or two people a 3 qt size would be big enough. I cook for 4 adults and have a 6 qt pot for pasta.

 

    A colander/strainer large enough to drain pasta and other things in.

 

    A balloon whisk would be helpful if you're going to make omelets (quickly and easily whips the eggs), and for me they are indispensable for making sauces.

 

    Perhaps a heavy-duty sheet pan for the oven. I happen to prefer 1/2 baker's sheet pans. These are good for baking pizzas and other larger items.

        Or maybe a 9 x 13 (sorry, I think in inches) baking pan good for roasting meats and such.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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...  I love my Victorinox  knifes how ever their fillet knife doesn't suit my hand but  Mora's does, however Mora's  chef knife and me are not friends, to much blood spilled for a chance of friendship there..

 

2nd the Victornox knives. If you have easy access to a restaurant supply store that is open to the public I would take a look there.

 

And if you aren't already aware, as CatPoet has said how a knife feels in your hand is a very personal thing and you will want to be able to pick up and feel the knives you are looking at. I find that anything smaller than a 10" feels like a toy in my hand. But that is my hand.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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