Monday, May 17, 2021


I've been thinking about some of the advice I gave in my previous post, about needed purchases, and taking care of yourself.  I'd like to give some small, practical "everybody needs these things" type of advice, here.  

You need a way to turn ingredients into food.  Which means kitchen implements.  And, for those of y'all who are just starting out (probably not that many) likely have little idea of which kitchen things are necessities, and which are niceties.  

I'm going to list, here, what I'll be sending my kids off with, when they move out: 

  • a set of small, sharp kitchen knives
  • two larger knives (one serrated)
  • 1 knife sharpener
  • two spatulas 
  • two cooking spoons
  • 1 set of wooden spoons
  • 1 set of rubber spatulas
  • 1 set stainless steel mixing bowls
  • 1 set stainless steel measuring spoons
  • 1 set stainless steel dry measuring cups
  • 1 set of liquid measuring cups in 1, 2 and 4 cup sizes, either clear plastic or Pyrex
  • 1 cast iron griddle 
  • 1 cast iron biscuit/muffin pan
  • 1 10" cast iron skillet, with a glass lid
  • 1 10" stainless steel skillet, which the glass lid also fits 
  • 2 stainless steel pots, in 1, and 3 quart, with pour spouts and strainer lids
  • 1 stainless steel pot with lid, in at least 7 quart
  • 1 9x13 casserole dish (likely stainless steel--my oldest is absent minded and a bit clumsy) 
  • 2 sheet pans--one big, one small.  Also known as a cookie sheet.
  • 1 pressure cooker, at least 5 quart, with a pressure gauge (or an Instant Pot)

I'd like y'all to note that nowhere on this list do I have anything labeled non-stick.  If treated right, cast iron is non-stick.  And non-stick skillets take very specialized care, and can and do become toxic if used over high temperatures.  

I'd also like y'all to note the knife sharpener.  I've seen people throw away perfectly good knives because they were dull, and the individuals didn't know what to do with them.  Even cheap stainless steel knives are perfectly adequate if you use a sharpener on them every so often.  

As for the pots...the 1 quart pot is great for single-servings of hot cereals.  Or for warming up a can of soup over a stove burner.  The 2 quart is...adequate for most other things, but not all; a three quart often is, if you're not feeding all of your friends.  If you're making pasta, you need the big pot for the pasta to not stick to itself when you're starting out.  The casserole is because I've taught both kids their favorite pasta dish: pasta bake.  You can find the recipe in the tabs up top.  You can also use it to turn flour into cake.  Or brownies. 

Many people are afraid of pressure cookers; I, on the other hand, am afraid of morons, since pressure cookers are perfectly safe, assuming that the person using it releases the pressure before opening the lid.  People may ask why I have one added as a necessity, rather than a nicety--well, it's simple.  A pressure cooker can take beans from dry to done in a bit more than an hour, without having to soak them first.  A pressure cooker can take inedibly tough cuts of meat and make them tender (maybe not to the point that bad dentures can handle them, but definitely to the point that a kid with baby teeth can manage).  A pressure cooker may actually, in fact, be a nicety, but it's one bordering on necessity.  A pressure cooker also goes by another name: a pressure canner.  You can use it to preserve food...which may well come under the label of "necessity" if things don't turn around.   

Now.  Nothing on the above list needs to be top of the line...or even new.  A lot of it is easily findable in yard sales, flea markets, or Goodwill.  Currently.  

As with everything else, it could change in a blink. 


  1. Good cast iron is now getting VERY expensive, even used... sigh And a good starter set!

    1. Even not-so-good cast iron is better than cheap non-stick. And not-so-good can be made good.

      I have a lot more cast iron cookware than I've got listed as the minimum. I have a 9" and a 15" griddle skillet, a 6", 8", 9", 10", 14.5" skillet (yes, I have a hard time managing that one, but it's worth it anyway), two muffin pans (one does 7, the other 8), and a 5 quart Dutch oven (I'd like to get a 7 quart one, too). I've got a lot more knives, too. Can't have too much cast iron, or too many cooking knives.