If you’re like most people, your cooking implements are probably a mismatched mélange of tools picked up as needed or inherited from friends or family. Sorry, but that’s no way to run a kitchen! Don’t cheat yourself. Invest in the right equipment for the important job of preparing great meals for you and those you love. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few basic tips for picking the right cooking tools.
Bring on the Bowls
From whipping up a batch of eggs to preparing burgers for the barbecue, mixing bowls are indispensable. Go with stainless steel or glass. Both are easy to clean, durable, and odor-resistant. Steel has the advantage of being light and impact-resistant and can take a long-term beating from spoons, mixers, mashers, and other tools. Glass is similarly tough (though heavier and prone to shatter if dropped), and unlike steel, it can be used in a microwave. Go with the style that best suits you and your kitchen, whether it’s sleek and modern or homey and traditional.
Chop, Chop, Chop
Cutting boards are one of the few kitchen tools that are useful as well as beautiful—if you pick the right kind. Go with a wooden cutting board for a classic look as well as safety and long-term use. Marble, stone, and glass cutting boards can look sleek and cool, but they’re hard on knives, dulling them after the most basic of use. The ideal cutting board is made of teak, walnut, or similar hardwood. They look great, and they self-repair even after years of use. Treat them with mineral oil occasionally to help them last longer.
Since we’re talking about knives, choose yours carefully. You can go the easy route and buy a set of knives, but all you really need are three specific kinds. Before you do that, keep in mind the difference between forged and stamped knives. Stamped knives are cheaper and less durable. Forged knives are carefully made and built to last for a very long time while keeping their edge sharp. The first knife you’ll need is a chef’s knife. This is the largest one, and you’ll use it more than any other for cutting, chopping, and so forth. Next, get a paring knife, which is used for more detailed cutting. Finally, get a serrated blade, which is used for slicing bread and certain fruits and vegetables with tough skins. While you’re at it, get a sharpener to keep your knives nice and sharp.
One of our last tips for picking the right cooking tools is to find the right cookware. This is a broad subject, but our best piece of advice is to pick up a cast-iron frying pan. Cooks have loved cast-iron for hundreds of years because it conducts heat wonderfully. What more, cast-iron pans can be used to cook on the burners as well as the oven, and the surface is already naturally nonstick. Cast-iron requires upkeep, but ultimately, it’s worth it.