Saturday Evening Open Thread: Kitchen Shopping Season?

It must be time for The Holidays, since suddenly the weekly sales flyers are full of roasters, deep-fryers, utensils that look more like scientific implements than kitchen gadgets, and of course cookbooks of every classification. My culinary aspirations are almost entirely observational, but I may have to look for a copy of a book on “the kitchen, and all its wonders” reviewed by Alice Rawsthorn in the NYTimes

One of the most sought-after objects in Ancient Roman homes was an elaborate cooking contraption known as an authepsa. Made of the finest Corinthian brass, it fulfilled a similar function to a modern steamer. Cicero recalled one selling for such a high price at auction that some onlookers thought that a farm had been sold, not a cooking pot.

Not that today’s trophy cookware costs quite as much as a farm, but the authepsa was the Ancient Roman equivalent of the stratospherically expensive ovens that now promise to bake soufflés at a temperature set to the nearest 0.01 degree, and fashionably laboratorial gizmos like centrifuges, compressors and homogenizers.

The evolution of the tools we have used for cooking and eating is the theme of a new book, “Consider the Fork: A History of Invention in the Kitchen,” by the British food writer and historian Bee Wilson. Every so often a book appears that may not necessarily have set out to be about design, but provides fascinating insights into its impact on a particular field. This book does so by exploring how the design not only of the fork, but of everything else that has been used to prepare and consume food over the centuries has determined what has been eaten in different eras, and its impact on people’s health, well-being and behavior…

… Ms. Wilson traces the impact of the culinary innovations of the Bronze Age and Iron Age, then Ancient Greece and Rome, where numerous food tools were invented, including the pricey authepsa. Diets became richer and more varied, but after the fall of the Roman Empire, many of those utensils disappeared, and for centuries most cooks were dependent on a single pot, typically a cauldron, that they used for everything.

Those cauldrons were cooked on blisteringly hot open hearths, which could be dirty, smelly and dangerous. The cooks in wealthy households were almost all men, because women’s flowing robes were considered to be fire risks. As male cooks often worked naked or in their underclothes, it was deemed unseemly for female servants to see them, and they were confined to dairies and sculleries. Open hearth cooking disappeared in many European countries with the adoption of closed brick chimneys and cast iron fire grates during the 16th and 17th centuries. Kitchens became cleaner, women were hired as cooks, shiny brass and pewter pots replaced grimy cast iron cauldrons, and the trophy kitchenware phenomenon began….

I can almost hear McMegan asking anxiously, “But can an authepsa produce a perfect hollandaise for me, every time?”

What’s on everyone’s shopping lists for your kitchens this season? Is there a new aspirational gadget to replace the $1500 Thermomix? A cookbook that finally answers those burning questions about not burning the roast? A professional-class upgrade to the short list of essential knives, pots, or implements that should be more widely known?






124 replies
  1. 1
    PurpleGirl says:

    I do the most basic of cooking. What I need most is counter space in a my small galley kitchen. I have no space for gadgets.

    ETA: I want a robot to clean the dishes and pots and pans, etc. I don’t like doing dishes.

  2. 2
    jayackroyd says:

    Sodastream. Complete addict.

    Tap to seltzer with no bottle waste.

    And the wok. But that’s old news.

  3. 3
    the Conster says:

    Went to HMart and bought a couple of these last weekend. Bibimbap at home!

  4. 4
    PeakVT says:

    the theme of a new book, “Consider the Fork: A History of Invention in the Kitchen”

    Soon to be followed by “Consider the Spork: A History of How Useless Kitchen Gadgets Came to Be.”

  5. 5
    Rosie Outlook says:

    I am hoping Santa will bring me a new potato peeler.

  6. 6
    Raven says:

    I shot my wad on a 6ft yellowfin tuna replica that is hanging on my wall. No presents for me this year!

  7. 7
    muddy says:

    There’s a kitchen supply store in my village and they have the new colors of Le Creuset in the window. Why oh why can’t you trade your old ones in when you buy new ones like you can do with a car? I want that turquoise so bad, I gnash my teeth whenever I go past.

  8. 8
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    I need a new potato ricer, which works dandy for ricing cauliflower, turnips, parsnips and rutabagas as well. They are all usually roasted, but when steamed or baked, you can make a cool risotto textured base with them also.

  9. 9
    gbear says:

    Only new contraption in my kitchen is this. The only thing that would be really nice to add to my kitchen is a dishwasher, but there’s no room. I could probably upgrade my 20 year old microwave oven, but then I’d have to learn how to use a new set of controls.

  10. 10
    Raven says:

    @gbear: “For use in the US only”

    WTF?

  11. 11
    Ted & Hellen says:

    I cook a lot and love doing it.

    I suspect that the number of “gadgets” one has in one’s kitchen is in direct inverse proportion to one’s creativity.

    After you have all the truly basic, USEFUL tools, the rest is marketing.

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    @muddy:

    You can find a lot of nice Le Creuset (seconds?) at TJ Maxx, of all places. You never know what colors are going to come up and they are really very cheap. I prefer to use my old Dansk stuff, which has now been reissued by Crate and Barrell in gorgeous colors like purple and red, because its lighter and not as heavy to move. I don’t need anything at this point in the kitchen. If I had the space and the money I’d buy extra sets of plates, I love plates, but I can’t justify it.

    aimai

  13. 13
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Raven:

    Oh my holy fucking god.

  14. 14
    Raven says:

    @Ted & Hellen: I hope you are better at cooking than you are at commenting there spat.

  15. 15
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Raven:

    And I hope you are better at cooking than you are at decorating.

  16. 16
    Maude says:

    @muddy:
    I went into a Le Creuset outlet and they wanted $105.00 for a stinking medium size casserole. I bought a pottery one at another store for under $9.00. It is just as good as the cast iron and it cleans up in a jiffy.

  17. 17
    Rosie Outlook says:

    Are those Le Creuset pots really worth their price tag, and, if so, why?

  18. 18
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @PeakVT: Soon to be followed by “Consider the Spork: A History of How Useless Kitchen Gadgets Came to Be.”

    Watch it! The Spork fanatics can get pretty nasty when dissed.

    You really don’t want to face The Flaming Vorpal Spork of DEATH.

  19. 19
    PeakVT says:

    @gbear: This cat does not look impressed with the product.

  20. 20
    Boudica says:

    Can I say how sad I am that I missed the olden days when men cooked….naked?

  21. 21
    gbear says:

    @Raven: Hah. I guess I won’t ever try to pack it into my carry-on.

  22. 22
    Raven says:

    @Ted & Hellen: You should have such a fish! And, fyi, my bride who really is an artist likes it. She put together a montage of my fishing pictures from the last 40 years. Of course the fact that we each have our own living rooms doesn’t hurt.

  23. 23
    jayackroyd says:

    One trend for me is less electricity. I rarely use the food processor, since I’m usually cooking for two, and the chef’s knife is almost as fast and easier clean up. But I grew up with everything from electric can openers (“here kitty kitty kitty”) to hand-held electric beaters. But now pretty much everything is manual. Whisking whipped cream actually gives better a result than beating it, and takes not much more time.

    When we’re at my inlaws in Christmas production mode, then the hardware comes out. But day to day, it’s forks, and whisks and knives.

  24. 24
    PeakVT says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki: Pffft. Almost any spork attack can be broken with a +3 Plate of Paper.

  25. 25
    MonkeyBoy says:

    I stopped by a Bed, Bath, & Beyond the other day to buy a new cutting mat – my old one has gotten many through slices and leaked so I bought a pack of 4 new for $6.

    While there I saw a huge number of bizarre single purpose counter space hogs. My “favorites” were:

    1. A triple crock pot – a device with 3 crocks in a row.
    2. A blender that also cooks I guess for making soup.

    I guess lots of people will be getting some mostly unusable stuff for Christmas.

  26. 26
    donnah says:

    My son, who is working with Habitat for Humanity and has new mad skillz in construction, was supposed to help renovate my kitchen this summer. Mostly painting, replacing the countertops and flooring. I bought paint in anticipation, and got new kitchen towels on markdown. I have a new oven and refrigerator, so I was so excited to finish out the rest of the kitchen. I even found giant sized spoon and fork decorations for my wall.

    So he got offered a summer internship with Habitat; more money, new apartment. I got nuthin.

  27. 27
    dexwood says:

    @Boudica: Hah, you should be a guest at my house, you can go shopping with my wife or see a movie with her when I do this.

  28. 28
    ruemara says:

    meh, such silliness. All I need is food and my christmas wish list is a bit of meat besides eggs and ground turkey. oooh a bit of steak would be nice. The rest is just a pot a pan or a some foil. Gadgets are so bougie.

  29. 29
    Raven says:

    Ya’ll need some Wagner cast iron. Stay away from that ferrin cast iron.

  30. 30
    Raven says:

    @ruemara: A workin class hero is somethin to be. . .

  31. 31
    efgoldman says:

    @muddy:

    I want that turquoise so bad, I gnash my teeth whenever I go past.

    Turquoise? Time travel is possible! We’re back in the 60s. Wait a few years and avocado green will be back, too.

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @Boudica:

    ” Can I say how sad I am that I missed the olden days when men cooked….naked? ”

    You may have come to the right place. Cole has been known to do housework naked.

    I checked out large cast iron cauldrons on Amazon, looks like you have to go with jambalaya pots from Cajun Cookware. They claim to have a 20 gallon version, but can’t find it on their site. Might be mythical.

    I’ll get the largest cast iron cauldron I can find and send in an action pic (if Cole does not beat me to it) for Thursday night recipes.

  33. 33
    Maude says:

    @MonkeyBoy:
    I was in one yesterday. The expensive junk they had in there was depressing.

    @jayackroyd:
    I don’t use machines much. I do things by hand. I have a good stand mixer and a hand mixer. I do whipped cream with the whisk.
    I have always used a hand can opener. Don’t know why.
    I do use the Mr. Coffee coffee maker.
    I do have a food processor. When I make the topping for apple crisp, I use a fork.

  34. 34
    Maude says:

    @Raven:
    When I do get around to getting cast iron, it will be Wagner.

  35. 35
    aimai says:

    @MonkeyBoy:

    I just saw that too, at Target. Actually, it made a lot of sense to me because I often have the problem of needing to cook a complete meal for four and then run out and leave it cooking/keeping warm while I drive out to pick up a child from some event. I actually considered it and then rejected it as absurd because a) as you say, space and b) I thought the three small pots didn’t suit my style of cooking. But I often make two chinese dishes and rice, or two or three indian dishes and rice, so if I could have controlled myself it might have been a good system.

    aimai

  36. 36
    Raven says:

    @jl: I have a 20 gal cast iron pot, It’s got a hairline crack from the lip about 8 inches down but it’s never mattered for big jambalaya’s.

  37. 37
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I want some really good sharp knives.

  38. 38
    Raven says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I use Sabatier carbon steel. Sharp as hell and hold and edge.

  39. 39
    jl says:

    @Raven: Thanks, but I think you may well be mythical too, so will need more proof. Pic maybe? Preferably with umpteen gallons of jambalaya.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    jl says:

    I have a serious cookware question.

    The only time I remember shopping for fancy cookware that was not a waste of time and money was when I bought some Scanpan sauce and frying pans.

    Close out sale, sales dude babbled about titanium bonding nonstick technology, gleefully attacking the inside of he saucepan with a fork. What could go wrong?

    The thing worked great, but then I burned the shit out of it, and now it does not work great. (Edit: but still works only slightly worse than most nonstick pans I have tried out)

    Any recommendations for nonstick pans without that plastic crude in it?

    I been thinking about replacing the Scanpan I ruined, but I am cheap.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Roger Moore says:

    Since moving to my new digs a couple of years ago, I have gotten two kitchen devices- I hate to call them gadgets- that have really impressed me.

    The first is an induction range. It’s annoying that I had to give up some of my old cookware- induction only works with pots that a magnet will stick to- but other than that it’s the best thing since gas. It heats the pots directly, which means it can change temperatures as fast as gas. It also means there’s very little waste heat, so it doesn’t turn the whole kitchen into an oven in the summer, and the only thing that heats the stove top is the hot pots sitting on it, so spatters don’t get burned onto the surface and it’s easy to clean. Also, too, the high efficiency means it’s very powerful; things heat up fast when you want them to. If you are looking to replace an old electric cooktop, you owe it to yourself to look at induction.

    The other thing is a Sous Vide cooker. It’s more of a gadget, but it’s still really cool. It’s fantastic for cooking meat, since you can get it precisely as well done as you want without a risk of overcooking. It means you can cook meat for a long time, so tough cuts get tender, while still keeping them medium rare. It’s also good for anything else that requires consistent heat, like custard. And if you want, you can cook just about anything you would otherwise cook in a slow cooker.

  44. 44
    Raven says:

    Huge ass hog?

    eta, There’s a gadget, a pit made from cinder blocks with a tin lid!

  45. 45
    jl says:

    @Raven: I’m not sure what to make of that video. Is that you hovering over that smoky grub? But some serious cauldron action going on there. Thanks.

  46. 46
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @jl: Non stick coating always comes off no matter how expensive the pan. Its best to stay away from it. I have Calphalon’s hard anodized set, which I got on sale from Amazon. I have had it for almost 3 years now and no complains so far.

  47. 47
    jl says:

    @Raven: Thanks. BTW, what’s your address? I’ll be right over.

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    @jl:

    Any recommendations for nonstick pans without that plastic crude in it?

    Well seasoned cast iron. It works about as well as a non-stick surface as teflon, but you can attack it with heavy duty cleaning supplies if anything ever does stick. I have some beautiful All Clad bonded stainless steel frying pans, but they almost always stay in the cabinet while the cast iron does the work.

  49. 49
    Raven says:

    @jl: Yea, I caught that big dude in the gulf and fired it up on the deck. It’s a wagner cast iron frying pan over a lp gas burner. You use a dry pan, heat is as hot as you can get it and lay the season, butter coated filets in. It sears the outside and keep the inside tender and yummy!

  50. 50
    jl says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: But that is the thing, Scanpan has no plastic crud coating, it is some rocket science alloy bonding technology. It quit working after I burned the crap out of it.

    But, thanks for the tip. I will look at Calphalon.

  51. 51
    suzanne says:

    My husband and I splurged on a BlendTec. I know it’s ludicrous, but I LOVE. We use it all the time. I went through so many ahitty blenders trying to make smoothies and this thing rocks the casbah.

    We need a new dishwasher. His parents have one that they say washes off EVERY but of food on the dishes so they not need pre-washing. This dishwasher is the original that came with the house and so it’s 25 years old. All rusted and gross.

  52. 52
    Raven says:

    @Roger Moore: Salt and hot oil cleans em every time.

  53. 53
    jl says:

    @Roger Moore: I agree. I been thinking about going back to seasoned cast iron. Can get a skillet set for 24 or 30 bucks. Will give me an excuse to try cooking naked, now that I know my cooking history.

  54. 54
    👽 Martin says:

    @Raven: Holy shit, that guy is huge!

    My big-ass gas Weber may be sacrilege in most places, but smoker + rotisserie + 750 degrees at the grates is wonderful. I can get a perfect sear on my steaks, and Thursday the rotisserie will be adorned with a 16 lb turkey. I can’t cook a hog, but for a SoCal yard, it’s pretty damn nice. Best addition to the kitchen in years.

  55. 55
    suzanne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I got my mom some of those Victorinox Forschner knives and she says they are awesome. America’s Test Kitchen supposedly said they were the second best knives on the market, and they’re CHEEEEEEP.

  56. 56
    Raven says:

    @👽 Martin: I’m thinkin you mean the big trucker that was hanging around, not the pig?

  57. 57
    chopper says:

    need a new convection toaster oven. eyeing the breville.

    other than that, god no. as fun as drooling over gadgets is, a thermomix isn’t going to make you a better cook if you can’t figure out how to make a fucking béchamel yourself in a damn pot on the damn stove. i’m working on a crust for tomorrow’s apple pie and I don’t need a damn thousand dollar contraption to mix it together. I just have to understand how flour and fat work together.

  58. 58
    Kristine says:

    I want to get a Sodastream.

    I have a couple of Le Creuset French ovens (discontinued colors/steep discount). They heat evenly, go from stovetop to oven, and clean up easily.

    I’ve heard that Lodge enameled cast iron is just as good, and it’s much cheaper.

  59. 59
    Raven says:

    @👽 Martin: Here’s the pig when we picked it up.

    BTW, I don’t eat beef or pork but I sho can cooks it!

  60. 60
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @jl: @schrodinger’s cat: Yee-up. We have a Calphalon anodized flat-bottom wok, received as a wedding present 16+ years ago and used by Mr Colette at least twice a week ever since, and it still works better than anything else in the kitchen. It does have some “seasoning” (I try not to remember that it’s ancient burnt-on oil), but that only helps.

  61. 61
    Raven says:

    @Raven: Lodge makes the Cajun line I think.

  62. 62
    PurpleGirl says:

    My friend in Peekskill got me into cooking with cast iron because he didn’t want his parrots affected by non-stick coatings. I stopped using non-stick at home in Queens from that and bought some special stainless steel fry pans that are almost as good as non-stick. (Cast iron is a little heavy for me to pick up now or to keep in a cabinet above my head.)

    ETA: I do have a cast iron wok which I bought some 35 years ago. I like using that.

  63. 63
    Roger Moore says:

    @Raven:
    I use a strong abrasive cleaner on my cast iron if I have something heavily burned on. OTOH, I also feel free to use detergent occasionally; I just make sure to dry and re-season promptly if I do.

  64. 64
    Raven says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: I have a hand hammered chinese steel wok. The hammer dents allow you to hold ingredients on the sides to add new stuff.

  65. 65
    👽 Martin says:

    @Raven: Yeah, the trucker. He looks like he’s 7 feet tall.

  66. 66
    Maude says:

    @suzanne:
    Blenders are bad for your hearing. I would wear ear protectors and I’m not kidding. I learned that a long time ago from an audiologist. I don;t have a blender.

  67. 67
    Raven says:

    @Roger Moore: I guess I was influenced by the mom of a great friend years ago. She threaten to kill me if I used any of the things you describe. She meant it!

  68. 68
    👽 Martin says:

    @Raven: Wow. That’s a hell of a lunch.

  69. 69
    Raven says:

    @👽 Martin: Nice wedding. They tell me the swine was good. 30 hrs and I didn’t have a bite!

  70. 70
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @suzanne: I have one of those and I am not impressed, too light weight, my older knife from Chicago Cutlery works much better.

  71. 71
    suzanne says:

    I had one of those pet fountains because my mom has a Snowshoe cat who loves to drink water from the tap. It was a pain to clean and broke. POS.

  72. 72
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Can’t live without my Zojirushi rice cooker. In addition to perfect rice, I can have perfectly cooked steel-cut oats ready when I get out of bed every morning in the winter.

  73. 73
    Roger Moore says:

    @Raven:
    Those things only come out when there’s a specific need. Most of the time, I “clean” my cast iron by wiping it out with a paper towel. And thinking about it, I would recommend staying away from salt; for chemical reasons, chloride ion is especially bad about corroding iron. I find that baking soda is an excellent choice if you need a very mild abrasive. It seems to be strong enough to remove food debris without scratching stuff.

  74. 74
    Yutsano says:

    I’m still technically on a kitchen gadget moratorium since I have a small kitchen. Having said that, I would love it if I got a Keurig for the holidays. (I say holidays because Mom might declare no Christmas again this year and Dad breaks out the menorah. Of course she did that last year and threw up a tree anyway.) My old coffee maker got ruined and I haven’t bothered to replace it, but single cup brews for just me is perfection!

  75. 75
    Raven says:

    @Roger Moore: Hmm, I’ve only used it when I get a badly scorched pan and then I re-season it. I can’t remember who told me about that method, really hot oil and salt.

    http://whatscookingamerica.net.....eaning.htm

    and this says soap!

  76. 76
    mainmati says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Basically agree but some extra tools save you a lot of time and are more efficient than basic tools. For many years, I lived without a stand mixer. Then I got one. I don’t use it everyday but it is damn good to have for lots of things.

  77. 77
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:
    Get a Melitta filter cone- or maybe one of the fancier ones from somebody like Hario- and hand brew your coffee. It’s probably the best choice short of an espresso machine. And if you feel a need to get a gadget, you can get one of the goose necked kettles designed specifically for hand brewing. I was given one as a present, and they actually work a lot better than a regular kettle.

  78. 78
    suzanne says:

    @Yutsano: We have a Keurig at work, and I think the coffee is mediocre at best. Why not a Bialetti for single-cup use?

  79. 79
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Yutsano: How about the Bodum French Press?

  80. 80
    Calouste says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Global are excellent knives, and ridiculously sharp. Expensive, although if you look around a bit you can get a starter set of 4 or 5 knives for $250-300.

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gbear:

    I’ve had a couple different models of those and they were such a giant pain the ass to clean that I stopped using them, even though the cats liked them. Plus it turned out that Keaton is one of those cats who gets acne from plastic exposure, which necessitated a replacement. I finally settled on a stainless steel Drinkwell 360, which is MUCH easier to clean.

    @Roger Moore:

    G uses the filter cone and heats the water with his electric kettle. He loves that kettle and uses it for any water-heating opportunity he can think of.

  82. 82
    Roger Moore says:

    @Raven:
    As long as its something you use only occasionally- and in this case as long as you properly re-season after the process- it should be fine. I’d guess that any kind of mild abrasive would work fine, as long as it will hold up to the hot oil. I usually use ScotchBrite abrasive sponges when I want to give my cast iron a thorough cleaning. I go first with just the sponge and water, then briefly with dish detergent, then rinse thoroughly, dry, and re-oil.

  83. 83
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    I have a Chemex, which I really enjoy and use as my main source of coffee. It was a present from the same person who gave me the goose-necked kettle. My sister and BIL use a Melitta, and their coffee is always worth drinking. The ultra-fancy coffee place here in Pasadena uses the Hario ceramic filter cones. It’s enough to convince me that it really is a great way of making coffee.

  84. 84
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Calouste: Wow that’s pricy! I am pretty happy with my paring and bread knives, looking for a good chef’s knife to replace my old one, the problem with cheaper knives is that they are not heavy enough. The one I have my eye on is a Wusthof knife which is about $150, kinda stiff for one knife.

  85. 85
    Beth says:

    I echo Conster: I have 4 stone bowls to make dolsot bibimbap, and there is just nothing like them in the world. The stone pots get so danerously hot that the rice crisps, raw egg cooks against the sides, and everything mixed together inside with gochujang hot sauce turns into the best food in the universe. Expensive, but worth every penny! I will treasure them until I die.

    Otherwise, I am still using the same stainless steel bowls, pots and pans that I bought as a bride decades ago, mainly at a restaurant supply house.

    Oh, and my rice cooker/steamer. Can’t live without that; changed my life.

  86. 86
    Origuy says:

    Since I need to replace some of my bowls, I thought to remind you all about Replacements.com. The company got a lot of attention earlier this year when its founders, a couple of gay men, publicly opposed North Carolina’s same sex marriage ban.

  87. 87
    Jay S says:

    @Yutsano You might look at an Aeropress. They take up less space than a Keurig. Or a Melita as others have recommended but the Aeropress is more gadget like, and brews a somewhat different cup of coffee.

  88. 88
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: Maybe I should ask for a good electric kettle instead. I can get a good quality French press at a number of places up here and they aren’t expensive. But I also have several delicious teas that I enjoy that the kettle would also be very useful for. Plus heating stock for risotto and such. Hmm…

  89. 89
    BigHank53 says:

    I picked up an especially crusty vintage cast iron skillet a few years ago at a thrift store. That one needed the Makita angle grinder and wire wheel to get the caked crap off of it. No markings cast into it, but it was as nice as any Griswold. I can’t imagine that using salt to clean your cast iron would be any kind of problem as long as you washed it out afterwards.

    The enameled Lodge casseroles work just as well as the Le Creusets. For a couple years Target was selling a Chinese copy for $40, but they’ve switched to Lodge. I saw a cast iron wok today that was mildly tempting…but only mildly.

    I can’t say enough good things about electric kettles. Faster and more efficient that boiling water on the stove. The upper-end Breville will even give you water at 190 or 200 instead of boiling if you want. (Green tea likes lower temperature water.)

    I do need a new roasting rack for whole chickens, though. The one I have is at least forty years old and was designed to fold. Now it wants to fold up if you look at it cross-eyed, never mind put a bird on it.

  90. 90
    Hill Dweller says:

    MAC knives are good, especially their professional series. I’d recommend their Chef’s knife(8″ MTH-80).

  91. 91
    Abijah L. says:

    @Yutsano: After Megan McArdle said bad things about percolators, I figured that was a good enough endorsement for me, so I bought one. It’s a “4 cup” Oneida which really makes 4 x 6oz cups. I half fill it and make the best — and easiest — coffee ever. I tried them all and the perc is definitely the best.

  92. 92
    Jay S says:

    @Yutsano: Well if you like French press, you really should consider Aeropress. It’s a less acidic than French press, and it cleans up a whole lot easier. It’s about $25, so probably more than a single serve french press. I bought mine at Central Market in north Seattle. I don’t use it a lot since we drink a lot of coffee and a single serve doesn’t really fit very well, but it makes an excellent cup.

  93. 93
    Yutsano says:

    @Abijah L.: I would absolutely love an espresso percolator. They don’t make too much and they’re very easy to use. I would save that for the extra cash purchase though. And after I move: I literally have no place to put it!

    @Jay S: I could ask for the kettle and get the Aeropress on my own. I’m certain I could rustle one up easily enough, even without using my SIL’s discount at Amazon (which she uses for her shopping anyway).

    Slightly OT: for many many reasons this makes me laugh. Warning: Hufflepuff linkage.

  94. 94
    NotMax says:

    If I need anything basic for the kitchen, I head over to the restaurant supply house. Plebian, maybe, but durable beats designer-ware in this codger’s book.

    Still using saucepans coated in the dark tan Teflon, bought more than 40 years ago when non-stick first hit the shelves. And they work just fine.

    My one addition to the kitchen this year was a replacement microwave oven (ancient one expired after a long and noble life – took 2 hefty adults to carry it out to the trash). As I specifically did not want one with a push-button door latch, and that I could easily lift, had to shop around a little at more ‘normal’ stores. Kenmore came through with what I was after (exact same 1200-watt model’s shelf price at K-mart (owned by Sears) was $35 less than the sale price at the Sears store).

  95. 95
    Pink Snapdragon says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I’ve been using Wusthof knives for many years now and still like them better than any of the others I’ve used. My first knives were Chicago Cutlery and I ended up giving all but my boning knife away because the handles don’t fit my short fingered hands very well. You can frequently find them on sale at Crate & Barrel and Williams Sonoma. Also those ubiquitous Bed Bath & Beyond coupons (that can be used even if they’re expired) might net you a good price.

  96. 96
    tesslibrarian says:

    @Yutsano: We’re tea drinkers, and adore our cheap electric kettle. No internal coil means that if I want to heat stock or milk for a recipe, cleaning up is a breeze. It gets used 3-5 times per day, since my husband works from home.

    Ours is a low-end Chefs Tools model with no temp control (it’s either boiling or not) , but ones that have more features aren’t that much more expensive–I just decided filling a pot and flipping one switch was all I was really up to most mornings.

  97. 97
    NotMax says:

    Speaking of things for the kitchen —

    Best. Knife Sharpener. Ever.

  98. 98
    muddy says:

    @aimai: I’ve seen them there sometimes. I used to go to the factory outlet in NC by I-40 when I had business that took me past. Sort of a self-imposed toll. But I can’t get the new colors along with my old ones, it just won’t do. This will have to wait until I win the lottery, after I buy a ticket that is.

  99. 99
    muddy says:

    @efgoldman:

    Turquoise? Time travel is possible! We’re back in the 60s. Wait a few years and avocado green will be back, too.

    It has never gone away!! The Le Creuset does have a new green, more of a light sage green, that would go well with the turquoise ones.

    See my current dishes here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m.....hotostream

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    catclub says:

    @PeakVT: Thinkgeek has a titanium spork.

  101. 101
    catclub says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I like my ceramic knife. Wicked sharp. But do not try anything that requires a bendable blade. Relatively small was $35 with a ceramic peeler as well.

  102. 102
    MattF says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Amen and alleluia to that. I’ve had my Zo rice cooker since February, and I use it about three times a week. Perfect rice, white and brown, perfect oatmeal. Also, barley + quinoa– have it for breakfast with fried eggs. Yummie.

  103. 103
    A.J.Willmore says:

    I use and recommend both a blender and blendstic, both the best you can afford. my blendstic is a kitchenaid, a gift, and my (excellent) blender is from the thrift store.

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    Betsy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: no no no y’all, a stovetop espresso maker, $20 and the best coffe you will ever. taste, everyone in Europe uses them as standard coffe makers, and nothing makes better coffee until a commercial grade espresso machine. Bialetti or knock-off brand is fine.

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    Persia says:

    @jayackroyd: My mom loves buying kitchen gadgets. I’m thinking of asking for one of those for Christmas with the thought that she might actually buy me one I’d use.

  106. 106
    smike says:

    The appliance that gets the most consistent use at my house is an old, small bodum electric kettle. Great for tea lovers. Quick and never fails. After reading the comments, I am going to add the Melitta filter cone for the occasional cup of coffee.

  107. 107
    opie_jeanne says:

    I saw this book mentioned and my first thought was McMegan, wrt the authepsis.

    This Christmas I’m thinking of treating our little cabin to a new range: the top of the old one is rusted through. A big maybe. I probably won’t spend too much but it will be wonderful to have electronic ignition to replace the damned pilots.

    I’m going to cook a standing rib for our son and his friends in early December, so that would be a really nice thing to have instead of the crappy O’Keefe and Merritt from 1967, or whatever it is. It will be nice to have an oven that doesn’t smell like pine resin when I fire it up, too.

  108. 108
    Yutsano says:

    @opie_jeanne: You just reminded me I have to check and see if my mom’s oven is fixed yet. Her glass top range cracked so she got it replaced but when they did they not only didn’t install the range right they screwed up the wiring to her oven so she can’t use either. I don’t know if this state of affairs has been fixed yet. But she loves loves loves her gas cooktop.

  109. 109
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Yutsano: How are you doing? I heard about the additional surgery looming, and I hope they need to do very little to make things work again.

  110. 110
    jayackroyd says:

    @Persia: My sodastream is first generation, here, and is starting to get leaky. I use it constantly. The newer models look sturdier.(There’s a fancy housewares store over on Madison that supplies me with the cartridges where they are prominently displayed) Get two cartridges, even if you aren’t expecting to use the shipping system.

    Paying soda pop prices for CO2 and water, as well as the constant bottle waste drove me nutz. A long time ago, I had the kind with the little cartridges, like the “whipped cream” machines, but that didn’t save any money, really. There’s supposedly a guy in Brooklyn who’ll deliver seltzer in the old style siphons, but I never tracked that down.

  111. 111
    Concerned Citizen says:

    @jayackroyd:

    That looks awesome! I’m not buying shit as I’ve gone Galt. I will however be spatchcocking a turkey.

    http://www.seriouseats.com/201.....?ref=title

    Also, too: http://www.sanger.dk/

  112. 112
    Yutsano says:

    @opie_jeanne: Looming is months in the future if not at least a year away. I don’t know for sure as there are other factors that would come into play for that. It’s in the works though. I start with the conversation with the new surgeon and go from there. Plus a few other pieces that need to fall into place.

    @jayackroyd: You might enjoy this recipe as it seems very well suited to your purpose. Plus it’s easily adaptable!

  113. 113
    jayackroyd says:

    @Yutsano: The only thing with which I adulterate the fizzy goodness is grapefruit juice, about one part in ten.

  114. 114
    keestadoll says:

    @Boudica: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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  116. 116
    Kristine says:

    Not sure if anyone posted this when it first came out, but it seems appropriate for this thread:

    The Hater’s Guide to Williams-Sonoma

  117. 117
    kerFuFFler says:

    @jayackroyd: I also have been using fewer electric gadgets—–though for some things there is no substitute for a blender. My favorite gadget for grating is my moulinex. It is more work than using a cuisinart, but because it comes with five blades you have much more control over the texture. It has blades that are PERFECT for making coleslaw, potato pancakes, you name it. It even has a very fine blade for grating nuts to the consistency of flour. It takes some elbow grease, but is easier to clean.

    This place is out of stock, but I have had luck buying used ones on eBay ( for my kids). http://www.electricshopping.co.....KkJZJG9KSM

    Happy cooking!

  118. 118
    Cynthianne says:

    My favorite kitchen implement is the can opener.

  119. 119
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Concerned Citizen:

    I will however be spatchcocking a turkey.

    We’ll be giving the same recipe a try. Our first attempt at roasting a turkey was two Thanksgivings ago, and it came out perfect, so we figured we should quit while we’re ahead and retire with an unblemished record.

    Plus, we switched from traditional roasting to spatchcocked roasting for chickens several months ago and freaking love it–so much easier, and the results are fantastic. Just do it in the ol’ cast iron skillet, skin side down on the stovetop first to really crisp it up (and give you some nice fond for the pan sauce), then flip, put in oven, and voila.

  120. 120
    Kristine says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: I’ve adopted another variation of cast-iron pan chicken. Splaying the legs solved my biggest roasting problem–no matter how careful I was, I always managed to wind up with chicken that was undercooked where thigh met body. This method solves that problem, and the skin gets so darned crispy and veggies (I use onion and fennel) caramelize a treat.

    I used a stainless steel casserole the first few times I made chicken this way. The pan started to discolor due to high temp, so I finally broke down and bought a Lodge 13.25″ cast iron pan yesterday. Roasted chicken it will be for Turkey Day, with herb dressing and apple-raisin stuffed acorn squash.

  121. 121

    I need a sharp knife. I only got one inside my wood knife tray drawer insert. I need plenty of it for the holiday since there were bunch of buddies who will be helping me in my cooking.

  122. 122
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    @muddy: Or just get the Lodge cermaic coated cast iron dutch oven – they come in nice colors too, work just as well, and sell for a third the price.

  123. 123
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I just got married recently and got the 4 Star Henkels knives, which are razor sharp right out of the box. Amazon still had the old ones – the newer 4 star knives have a metal cap on the end of the handle, which supposedly throws the balance off, but they are a fantastic deal if you can find the originals on Amazon still. I’m sure the new ones have the same edge so they’re probably still really nice. I think the 7 piece set was only $150.

    I also got a stand mixer and a cuisinart food processor, but I use the knives 99% of the time. Gadgets are mostly unnecessary if you have a good set of knives. Also, good pots and pans and baking dishes. Everything else just takes up cupboard space most of the time.

  124. 124
    jafd says:

    Note that, when the Romans sacked Corinth, they mixed up the loot > burn sequence, and (Corinth being a veddy prosperous place) created deposits of the alloy of gold and silver that would be called ‘Corinthian brass’.

    Just another thing the Romans did for us.

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