No granite countertops needed! Savvy Equipment:

15 Sep

My kitchen is a rather large one in a rented duplex apartment. It retains most of its1960’s original U-shaped cupboards and chipped Formica countertop. When I moved in, I replaced the single sink with a double one with a simple (and cheap) lever tap with a vegetable sprayer. The landlady purchased new, but extremely basic — white electric stove/oven and a frustratingly small and poorly designed refrigerator.

Poorly designed refrigerator

Six years ago, the horrid vinyl flooring was replaced with creamy ceramic tiles . . . easy to keep clean, not bad on the legs and hell on most items dropped upon it.

A space had been roughed-in for a dishwasher, so I acquired a basic, second hand, model. It was the best investment I could have made as I hate washing dishes by hand and having to do dishes was keeping me from cooking. Several years ago, I was gifted with a second or third hand chest freezer. Small, it just fits between the fridge and the wall. It, too, has been a God send allowing me to buy meat on sale in larger quantities and to freeze big batch meals and desserts (to avoid the temptation of eating a whole cake or batch of cookies by myself!).

The next best investment for a woman of my build is an overhead ceiling fan! It makes having the oven on in the summer bearable and lacking a range hood, it can clear the occasional fishy smell or smoking broiler.

In the small appliance department, I started with a coffee maker, toaster and hand mixer. Over the years I added a blender, a slow-cooker, a coffee/spice grinder, eventually a microwave, an indoor grill (before I lived where I could keep a BBQ), an ancient small cast-off food processor and a recently a toaster oven with a rotisserie. But this has been over a 35+ year period. I never really used a hand blender, although I would now love to have an immersion blender for pureeing soups.

Small appliances acquireed over time.

I still have and use a set of plastic-handled cheese knives a friend gave me when I left home for university. I have since replaced the steak knives from that set with some from IKEA. I like to have two sets of small measuring cups and measuring spoons. I also use glass measures in 1-, 2- and 4-cup sizes. I find it handy to have two 2-cuppers.

Prepping food became a greater pleasure when I could afford to buy a good set of chef’s knives and a good bread knife. When it comes to cutting boards, I like having at least one large and one small size for vegetables and a large wooden board (with a ‘drip ditch’) that I reserve just for meat.

I have 2 sets of graduated size mixing bowls, one stainless and the other heavy ceramic. Cutting boards in different sizes are great if you have the storage space. I bought a small, decent set of cookware (heavy-bottomed) about 15 years ago and have different sizes of non-stick fry pans, and a couple of non-stick sauce pans. A steam basket is great, as is a stove-top wok and a rice cooker. I have the basics in baking sheets, pans and

Good, but certainly not top-of-the-line pots & pans

loaves and a Bundt pan. Sturdy spatulas, lots of wooden spoons, whisks (large, medium and tiny) and a pastry brush or two are handy to have. A long-handled slotted spoon is useful as is a dark-coloured or metal ladle.

I started out with 2 different sizes of covered Corningware-style casserole dishes and now have a Kitchenaid stove-top-to-oven enamelled cast iron casserole with lid. Great for braising and stews. I also continue to love my large, old-style dark blue enamelled roasting pan with lid. Great for roasting meat and vegetables alike.

My current “Lusting for List” includes a marble rolling pin and a marble slab for kneading dough. I’m finally learning how to make bread from scratch! But I am checking out flea markets and yard sales for these ‘dream’ items. A baking stone and a pizza paddle would be a great addition. And I need a knife-sharpening device. But at some point, storage room determines what I can have!

If you live close to friends in the same condo or community, you can always consider sharing items you use only occasionally, but I have found folks can be fussy about the condition of their knives, pots and pan and baking tins. Probably best to have your own and start with the basics. The figure out where you personal tastes and interest take you and add to your supplies as you expand your repertoire.

Toaster, knife block, hand mixer, nested mixing bowls

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