Saturday, March 23, 2019

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Some of my favorite things

This post is late today for a good reason, my daughter and oldest granddaughter were in Kentucky this week and they traveled out of their way to visit us today. Piper and Oliver brought their parents, too!  It was a fun... albeit brief... family reunion, so quick that there wasn't time to miss the rest of our New England family but we will see them in late Spring.

My idea for this blog post came last week when I was using my favorite chef's knife.  I decided I want to share off an on some of my favorite things in the kitchen.  Today is about knives and cookware, those items we use on a daily or weekly basis.

I don't even remember how I came to have this Kitchen Aid knife!  I have always told people that the most important items to have for cooking are the best cookware you can afford and the best knives you can afford.  But this Kitchen Aid chef's knife changed my mind about the knives. 

I have had chef's knives that cost more but this inexpensive Kitchen Aid knife fits well in my hands and does a good job on (almost) anything I have to slice, chop, etc.  I admit (as she blushes), that I have excellent knife skills.  Although after watching all those British murder mysteries, maybe I should rephrase that.  I know how to use a chef's knife...

I think every cook needs a chef's knife and the knowledge of how to use it.  One used to have to take a class like I did eons ago but today I'm sure there are plenty of lessons on YouTube.  If needed, I could get by with just an 8" chef's knife, a good paring knife, and a long serrated knife.  The serrated knife is sometimes called a bread knife.

My daughter bought me the cutest colorful set of knives one year, for my birthday I think.  That set contained a carving knife and I had never owned one of them before.  It is actually perfect for... carving.  Go figure. I use it now for carving when I roast a chicken or turkey.

My paring knife I've used for awhile is the 4" Henckles paring knife.  It is not the original German made Henckles but the line that they have made in China.  You will know immediately which you are looking at by the price.

If there is someone in your family that loves to cook and does so a lot, they may know of the German made Henckles and Wusthof knives.  These are investment quality knives, the kind that if you take care of them, never put them in the dishwasher for instance, they should last a lifetime.

Another favorite kitchen item I used all the time was my much beloved Le Creuset enamelware dutch oven.  I invested in one when I was working full time and it lasted over twenty-five years. I miss my red Le Creuset enamelware dutch oven but it costs too much to replace these days.

I now have a Lodge enamelware dutch oven.  It is so heavy, I tend to avoid using it unless necessary.  I have heard there are now other brands that may not be investment quality but are very good.  Aldi has one they sell once in awhile.

It's just that Le Creuset kind of ruins you for anything else.  Recently I gave Christopher my All-Clad saute pan and cover since I wasn't using it and he is beginning a collection of very good cookware.  I had warned him that once you use All-Clad, it will ruin you for any other brand.  Today he told me how right I was after he has been using it awhile.

I have mentioned before my love of All-Clad cookware before.  I bought my saucepan when it was half price at the gourmet shop one year and that saute pan at another half price sale a few years ago.  I found a skillet barely used at Goodwill, too!  All-Clad cookware is definitely investment cookware but if taken care of, will last a lifetime.  I use the sauce pan almost every day of the week and the skillet quite often.

I must admit that the workhorse skillet of my kitchen is a Cuisinart skillet that was a fraction of the price of All-Clad. I use it for most frying.  If I remember correctly, in Cooks Illustrated tests they always have an All-Clad skillet as the winner and a Cuisinart skillet as "Best Buy". 

I hadn't been married very long when I heard a cooking instructor say that most people who think they are bad cooks because they burn everything probably just have cheap cookware.  Now that I have cooked for decades, I believe that.  The cheaper the skillet, the thinner the metal, the quicker food burns!

It is worth investing in good cookware and knives, even if it is just a little at a time.  They don't have to be investment quality when "Best Buy" brands are not all that expensive.  I just don't recommend buying cookware and knives at the dollar store.

I learned the importance of knowing the good brands even when I could not afford them. That's how I have found excellent cookware and other items at Goodwill and thrift stores.  I knew they were of high quality when I saw them but it was verified when I saw the brand name.  It works for everything from skillets to teapots.  ;)

It is late so I'd better hit publish...

Mentioned in this Blog Post
Kitchen Aid 8" chef's knife... here.
Kitchen Aid knife starter set... here.
Wusthof 8" chef's knife... here.
Henckles 4" paring knife... here.
Le Creuset dutch oven... here.
All-Clad saucepan... here.
Cuisinart 12" skillet... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.


Vee said...

QVC sometimes has very good prices on Le Creuset. I find myself being tempted from time to time. I am not so good with knife skills, which is probably why I love PW’s chef knife. Mine is several years old and still doing well. If I need to replace it, it’s under $10.

So glad that you were able to visit with three grands, two kids, and a daughter-in-love. 🙂 It’ll keep you going for a while.

Anonymous said...

So glad you were able to have a mini-family reunion. Happy time! Thanks for the kitchen lesson today. I always love to learn something new in my "senior years". Blessings to you and yours, Sharon D.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I’ve never had a Dutch oven. I’ve seen them at Aldi and thought about getting one. Not sure how much I’d use it.

Jan C. said...

I love my Le Creuset Dutch oven but recently I have seen the Staub brand get glowing reviews and it is cheaper as well as the Cuisinart.

Since it is mostly just the two of us for meals now, I wanted some smaller pots and pans for Christmas. For everyday use, I want to be able to put them in the dishwasher and not have to hand wash. The Cuisinart brand got good reviews but I was skeptical. They are so good-heat as evenly as some of my expensive pans and they had a set with a small saucepan and skillet.

Have Cutco knives we bought from daughter's college friend at least 15 years ago and they have also been excellent-sent them in for free sharpening a few times when we were going to be on vacation so I didn't have to do without them.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I have a good 8inch chef's knife which I don't use as it feels too large for my hand. I have a Zwillingswerk six inch one which I much prefer and my mother's Sabatier knife which Andy broke the tip off of, but it is still my best knife. And some good paring knives. I gave away my Lodge dutch ovens and now have an Amazon basics one which is much less heavy. I sharpen my knives fairly often.
Dull knives are the worst! And rather dangerous, too.

So glad to read about your mini reunion!

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

Several really good Jacques Pepin videos on knife skills. They can be found on YouTube.