Kitchen tips and reviews

Starting out of college, plastic cups and plates, bowls, heavy, ceramic mixing bowls that are difficult to hold, wash, and break on impact plastic spatulas that melt if you leave them in the pot spending extra markup on popcorn and waffles try to make pancakes, whisk gets all gummed up with batter and hard to wash pots with nonstick coating, little handles pull something out of oven like a chicken or turkey and the broth goes right through cheap cotton gloves when you get a chance, if you cook stuff, General tips: cook in big batches, then refrigerate and freeze them in indivdual serving sizes. steaming is deadass easy for things like veggies and dumplings These are classes of items, will describe particular item as needed. Rating levels:
  • Excellent: Works great, no drawbacks
  • Good: Generally better than competition
  • Average: About equal to the competition, baseline
  • critical: everybody who cooks, even ocassionally, should have one of these. Direct upgrade to alternatives.
  • great: Adds a lot of functionality/saves money for the average user
  • specialist: Makes a lot of sense if you use it enough
  • optional:
  • does the average person need it? does it do its job well? the class of item vs. particular item i got. how satisfied how often used

Cooking Gear

Pic Rating/ Cost Why it's better
stainless steel mixing bowls Excellent, $20 Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls: stainless are lighter, easier to clean and grab and work with than glass or ceramic. Don't have to worry about breaking, will last the rest of your life. I got a set from Volrath's economy line, which are recommended by Cooks Illustrated, and they've been fantastic so far, easy to hold, use, wash, and stack, with a mirror finish. Since these are not microwavable, I also have a few big pyrex bowls as well.
silicone spatulas Excellent, $20 Silicone Spatulas: Silicone cleans easily, safer in food, has a squeegee effect to clean sides of bowls, jars, containers. Will not melt on hot surfaces, can leave in pot or pan when cooking. Di Oro have been great.
Danish whisk: Excellent, $15 Danish whisk: Got mine from King Arthur, easier to use and clean when mixing doughs.
stand mixer Good, $400+ kitchenaid stand mixer: seems good, but quite loud. Starting to hear some grinding noises, but such things can be repaired. Lots of kneeding for dough, especially with back pains. Also for some recipes to whip things.
Cast iron frying pan: Excellent, $? silicone bread pans: easier to clean, easier to pop out bread when done Trudeau Structure Loaf Pan Silicone Bakeware, 8.5″ x 4.5″. Starting to break after using multiple times a week for more than a year.
Silicone oven mitts Good, $5 Silicone oven mitts: cotton can get wet, or hot oil can seriously burn. Better angle than regular oven mitts. Ikea silicone.
Cast iron frying pan: Good, $? Cast iron frying pan: with oil and care, lasts forever. But heavy. Lodge has been good. The square one is heavy, maybe too large, but good for things like french toast that might be too cramped in a. Heavy, so it permanently lives on the stove. With frequent oiling, rust and sticking isn't a problem. Again, will last for more than a lifetime if maintained.
Stainless steel pan Good, $? Stainless pots and pans: Stainless pots and pans: Cuisinart set, particularly fond of the 3.5 qt saute pan, halfway between a frying pan and a pot. Equally good for frying, pasta, or steaming. Unlike nonstick pots, will last longer than me.
Stainless steel steamer Good, $? Steamer basket: Incredibly easy and fast way to cook veggies and dumplings, supposedly healthier than boiling for not letting vitamins out.
Glass and silicone pot lid Good, $? Glass and silicone pot lid: easier to see what's happening, small hole makes it less likely to boil over. Handle won't get hot, can actually see what's happening.
Glass and silicone pot lid Good, $? Slow Cooker text
Glass and silicone pot lid Good, $? Pressure cooker instant pot

Specialty cooking stuff

Pic Rating/ Cost Why it's better
popcorn maker Excellent, $20 Microwave popcorn maker: Actually easier, faster, and better than the stuff that comes in bags. Just get a big thing of popcorn in bulk, and one of these, and get huge bowls of hot popcorn quick.
waffle maker Excellent, $20 waffle maker: Presto Flipsider- flipping action gets waffles well covered, consistent temperature and pretty fast. Easy to store and keep in the kitchen, ceramic vs. nonstick coatings. seems to clean easy. Cooks illustrated top pick. Better than frozen waffles, cheaper than 2 decent breakfasts or 10 boxes of waffles. Haven't had long, so it's unclear how durable it is.
soda maker Good, $70 Soda maker: less plastic crap, can control fizz, no corn syrup, more options. may lose carbonation ability. Jury still out

Serving and Storage

Pic Rating/ Cost Why it's better
drinking glasses Excellent, $20 Glasses: Ikea 365, we've dropped them on the floor and rarely break, just plain glasses.
flatware Excellent, $20 Flatware: Oneida Colonial Boston Everyday Flatware. Looked a lot of stuff that was trying to be trendy or super fancy, and most of it felt really weird. Some have rounded handles that spin around in your hand, or pointy ends that randomly poke. These are pretty much a design that hasn't changed much in hundreds of years, because it just works. They look fine for company, but most importantly they fit in your hand and you don't ever need to think about them ever again.
bowls Excellent, $20 Plates/bowls: Haven't had much luck with plates, but Ikea 365 plate/bowl thingies are fantastic for things that can move around, especially for things like pasta, stews, and soups, but also vegetables. Feldspar porcelain seems to hold up better than stoneware (Vardagen scratches up, is heavier). VÄRDERA 7 ¾x7 ¾ " still fits in dishwasher.
glass food storage cubes Excellent, $20 Food Storage: Ikea 365 cubes. Indestructable borosilicate glass, incredibly affordable, with seperate sealing lids. Their shape also allows you to freeze in each one. Each is a perfect meal sized portion, so just spoon up chili or jumbalaya or soup or whatever in each one, then toss in the fridge or freezer. I've tried marking the tops with numbers using sharpies Ikea 365, we've dropped them on the floor and rarely break, just plain glasses.

Serving and Storage

Cleaning Stuff

Pic Rating/ Cost Why it's better
Barkeepers friend Excellent, $20 Barkeepers friend great for cleaning steel cookware, removes stains. Doesn't scratch, but will if mixed with the copper wool.
copper wool good, $20 copper wool aggressively removes baked on junk on stainless steel cookware. Use with soap.
copper wool good, $20 dish soap seventh generation really good, don't go with antibacterial because its just unecessary, and spurs resistant bacteria. Dawn and other soaps often too greasy, require too much water to get rid of.

What not to get: -plastic or thin glass drinking glasses -cotton hot pads -plastic, metal, or wood spatulas and spoons -plastic food storage containers -ceramic mixing bowls

  • waffle maker:
  • soda maker: less plastic crap, can control fizz, no corn syrup, more options. may lose carbonation ability. Jury still out
  • pie plate
  • Brita pitcher: Brita has been good, but there are other brands that may be better.
Stuff to just throw out plastic cups cotton plastic, wood, or metal spatulas, spoons, stirrers (unless metal on grill) plastic or ceramic mixing bowls old teflon pans and pots