Kitchen Stuff We Can’t Live Without—Part 1: Pots

Spring is a time for new beginnings—and loads of pollen. Every Spring I end up hunkering down inside my house, doing my best “girl-in-the-plastic-bubble” routine. You know, hermetically sealed for my protection.

But some people get out there, pollen notwithstanding, and do terribly meaningful and important things. They get married, buy new houses, complete educations, and move away from home (sometimes voluntarily and, frankly, sometimes involuntarily).

Many of these life transitions require these go-getters to set up a kitchen, possibly for the first time. Especially in the case of brides, however, I have seen some stuff on registries that my many years of marriage advises me is stupidly impractical. Meanwhile, the same registries omit very necessary things.

It is especially crucial in economic times like these that you strategize to make your friends’ and relatives’ dollars go as far as possible toward getting you the kitchen of your dreams. I mean, get with it! Your first marriage may be the last chance you ever have to pick out really pricey gifts people will actually buy for you. Don’t blow this opportunity imagining you will be hosting tea for the Queen and her court!

What do I mean? Here’s your first clue: if your dining table only has seating for four, you probably don’t need formal service for 12. You also may consider skipping formal place settings entirely *gasp* if a crawfish boil is your idea of a dinner party. Just get a really nice informal pattern instead and use your relatives’ wedding gift budget on awesome pots, pans, knives, appliances, and other stuff you can really use but that cost and arm and a leg.

Besides, if you play your cards right, you won’t have room in your kitchen for a second set of plates. You are going to need that space when you score all of these cool cooking gadgets!

But whether you are having to pony up yourself or are relying on the generosity of others, fear not! For I have consulted my friends and among us we have compiled these tips for scoring items you need for cooking and entertaining you will really do.

(Please note—this list is not complete if you are a Cajun or live in South Louisiana. In that case, you have a whole set of additional outdoor cooking implements you will also require like boiling pots that double as turkey fryers, propane burner rings, fire extinguishers, large industrial fans to chase off the mosquitos, etc.)

Category #1 Pots. Obviously, you are going to need something to put the food in when you cook it. But maybe your eyes glaze over when confronted by the dizzying array of expensive metal things with handles on them. Here’s what our panel said you need:

—A Le Creuset enameled cast-iron 9-1/2-quart oval French oven. It is amazing for braising (a skill you should learn if you don’t know how to do it yet). Cheap meat comes out tender and tasting not-of-iron. And the enameling makes clean-up easier, and keeps your pot rust-free.

—A Lodge Logic L10SK3 12-inch pre-seasoned skillet, at a minimum, but I might go for the Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker for even more versatility. I use mine to deep fry and make roux. You will have to pry this from my cold, dead fingers before I give it up.

—The Le Creuset Enamel-on-Steel 12-quart covered stockpot also rocks for soups and stews. Oh, and all Le Crueset comes in pretty colors. Wheeeee!

—I can also recommend All-Clad Stainless Steel series including 1-1/2-quart saucepan with lid and a 4-quart saucepan with steamer insert, a 10-inch fry pan, a 14-inch fry pan, a 6-quart saute pan, a large roasting pan with rack, and an 8-quart stockpot OR a 7-quart stockpot with pasta insert, depending on how much you love pasta.

I would definitely evaluate whether you will come out ahead by getting deals on sets that have almost all of the above and then filling in the rest. You may be able to save a bundle but you also may end up with pieces you never use.

You will also note I didn’t recommend the All-Clad Stainless double boiler insert. That’s what a tempered glass or stainless steel bowl on top of the 1.5 quart sauce pan is for! Duh. 😉

P.S. My sister loves her Emeril Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set, though. And truly, they look a lot like All-Clad Stainless but for a fraction of the price.

So that concludes today’s post on pots you really need. Be sure to check us out tomorrow, when we will address the question of knives—and possibly more!

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