I’ve been cooking for a long time and usually managed to get by with the kitchen appliances and utensils I had on hand (it’s the cook, not the pot, right?). Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve come to appreciate the difference in just “getting by” and making a truly quality dish. I know there’s lots of great products out there but here are a few of my favorites…
Chicago Metallic baking pans (http://www.chicagometallicbakeware.com/) – I now use their non-stick loaf pans for my bread baking. You never need to grease the pan and the loaves consistently have a nicely browned exterior. I’m going to buy their muffin pans next time I’m at Sur La Table (http://www.surlatable.com/) or Bed Bath & Beyond (http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/default.asp?).
KitchenAid Stand Mixer – need I say more? I can’t believe I waited 25 years to make this purchase. It mixes while I do something else, and makes wonderful dough with the dough hook. I don’t have any of the attachments but I’m sure they are awesome.
Le Creuset Round French Oven – also known as a Dutch oven except when you’re talking about Le Creuset. Yes it is very expensive but it will last forever, it goes in the dishwasher and it really does make a difference in your cooking. I love when the summer ends and fall begins because I know I’ll use my Le Creuset all the time. Pot roasts, spaghetti sauce, chili and stews all cook wonderfully with this great kitchen pot. And to save money on your purchase, scour the Marshall’s and TJ Maxx stores in your area; that’s where I got mine. (And here’s a tip: if the inside bottom gets brown over time, place a small amount of liquid bleach in the pot and fill with water. Cover and bring to a simmer for about ½ hour; the pot will be nice and clean. Remember to wash it well with soap and water afterwards.)
Sur La Table Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware – just like the more expensive All-Clad, this cookware (not just the bottom of the pans) is made of a layer of aluminum sandwiched between 2 layers of stainless steel (which does not react to food) to make for more even cooking and browning. I originally went to Sur La Table to purchase the All-Clad, but I liked the handles on the store brand better and it was considerably less expensive. It is super cookware and will last a lifetime and I just love it!
And finally, a Cast Iron Skillet. For the last 20 years I’ve been using my Granny’s cast iron skillet. She got it when she married in 1929 and I was thrilled that she let me have it when she moved out of her home. This past summer I gave it to one of my daughters (don’t worry, I have something old and special for my other daughter too!) with the hope that she will pass it along to one of the twins when they are adults. A cast iron skillet is priceless. You need to take care of it though and here’s how: after using, wipe with a wet paper towel. Ball up a piece of aluminum foil and “scrub” it around the inside. Dampen a paper towel lightly with vegetable oil and wipe throughout the inside of the skillet. That’s it!