Kitchen tools: Why getting the good stuff is worth it.

My wife and I are just beginning to find our ‘sea legs’ when it comes to cooking…

We were both definitely the kind of people who ate out most of the time for a big chunk of our adult lives, and who didn’t pay nearly as much attention as we should have to our parents in the kitchen.

It’s been a bit of a process coming up to speed with cooking for ourselves on a regular basis, and evolving past the point of things like pasta, simple grilling, and simple frying, and getting to the point where we have a small repertoire of recipes we’re very comfortable with.

A few potentially obvious things that are worth restating anyway:

  • If cooking for yourself beyond boiling water seems daunting, Just Do It. That feeling abates after the first few successes in the kitchen.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with recipes that involve only a few steps. Better to build your confidence with several small, satisfying victories than to go out with a bang and resign yourself to eternal take out again.
  • Working with a partner is much more fun, and besides, then you’ll have someone to share dinner with :)
  • Slow cookers are awesome. Nothing says “Hey, even I can’t screw this up!” like a recipe that calls for cooking something on LOW for 8-9 hours. In fact, I have a pot roast bubbling away in mine at home right now :)
  • Try the no knead bread recipe! It’s idiot proof. I should know, I’ve succeeded at using it twice and made two lovely loaves of bread - very well reviewed by everyone we had handy both times :) The recipe originally appeared in the New York Times but my favorite rendition which includes some nice refinements and is a whole lot more fun is over here on the Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen blog.

Now for the less obvious stuff, and the reason I bothered writing this to begin with.

Good Kitchen Tools are Worth Their Weight in Gold

For years I had always said “Well, I’m hardly a kitchen maven, so I really don’t need the good stuff. What I have is fine.” What I had was a worn out mish mash of hand me downs from my family that I had been using since my dorm days in college. Dull knives, cheap pots and pans with hot spots galore that looked like they’d been through a world war or two. You get the idea.

Boy, was I wrong! When we got married and my wife and were prompted by several of her relatives to start a wedding registry, I thought, “This is an opportunity to get the Good Stuff”. Due to the tremendous generosity of our families and friends we ended up with a nice set of All-Clad cook ware and Henckels knives.

I was blown away. It’s the classic Boiled Frog syndrome. You really have no idea how much easier and more pleasant it is to cook with good tools until you have them in your home and use them a few times. The difference really is like night and day. In the same vein, it’s been really nice to watch my wife use one of these tools for the first time and say “Hey, wow, this is a really great knife” or “It’s amazing how you easy this pan is to clean” etc.

I don’t want to come off sounding like an advertisement for either of these two product lines - I am quite certain that any of the other equivalently capable lines of kitchen tools will lend the same kind of pleasure to your kitchen endeavors.

Anyway, writing something like this has been rattling around in my head for a while. I know I wasn’t the only kitchen phobic geek out there, so I thought some of this bore mentioning. Hopefully it’s not totally incoherent, and people can get something out of it. Have fun!

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