Q&A

HOW MANY KNIVES DO I REALLY NEED?

GadgetGals recommends three knives for your knife wardrobe. But you can get by with just two. The knives we recommend are a chef’s knife and a paring knife. The third would be a serrated bread knife.

What to look for in a knife? First, the breakdown of a chef’s knife is:
Handle: Can be made from bone, plastic or polypropylene, or wood. Select one that feels comfortable in your hands.
Tang: A good knife should have a full tang, which means the metal runs the entire length of the knife through to the end of the handle.
Blade: Can come in length from 4 to 12 inches.
Bolster: This is the thick piece of metal between the end of the blade and the handle.
Rivets: The handle should be bolted onto the knife.

Purchase a chef’s knife that has been forged (vs. stamped) from high- carbon stainless steel. The chef’s knife has a wide blade that is great for slicing, chopping and mincing. An 8-inch blade is the most popular and great for all-around jobs.

A paring knife is ideal for peeling, coring, and slicing small foods, such as a radish.

If your knife budget allows, add a bread knife or serrated blade knife. It is great for slicing bread, tomatoes, and sandwiches.

Plan to spend $50 to $100 for each knife. While that may sound pricey, the good news is if you select and purchase wisely, and sharpen occasionally, your knives will last a lifetime.

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR THE BEGINNING KITCHEN?

Housewares sections of retail stores offer so many glamorous lines of cookware and kitchen equipment that choosing what is right for you can seem like a daunting challenge. The key word to remember is BASIC. Think about your cooking style and the foods you like to eat, then buy accordingly, purchasing the best equipment you can afford. Once you have outfitted your kitchen with the basics, then add the specialized items as needed.

Here are GadgetGals picks for the BASIC kitchen.

Cookware:
1-quart saucepan with lid
2-quart saucepan with lid
3-quart saucepan with lid
Stock pot or pasta pot with
lid (4- to 6-quart)
10X10-inch nonstick skillet with lid
6-inch skillet
Bakeware:
two 9-inch round cake pans
one 3-qt baking pan (13-X 9-
inch)
Metal and Pyrex
two baking sheets
Muffin pan-
silicone
Roasting pan with a rack
One 9-inch square-baking pan
Tool Caddie:
Silicone spatulas
Kitchen scissors
Ladle
Silicone tipped tongs
Wooden spoons
Slotted spoon
Pancake turner
Flexible metal spatula
Wire whisk
Preparation:
Colander
1-& 2-cup Glass liquid measuring
Set of nesting dry measuring cups
Set of mixing bowls
Cutting board/surface
Set of potholders
Salad spinner
GadgetDrawer:
4 in one opener (can, bottle)
Chef’s knife in a wood block
or protected sheaf
Paring knife
Serrated knife
Grater/shredder
Instant read meat thermometer
Kitchen timer
Set of measuring spoons
Vegetable peeler
Electrics:
Toaster
Blender
Hand-held mixer

WHAT ARE THE SAFEST APPLIANCES?

Any appliance if used improperly can be unsafe. Avoid it as you might, we suggest you read the booklet that comes with your new piece of equipment/appliance whether it is a saucepan or an electrical appliance. Keep the Use and Care booklet handy so you can refer to it as needed.

Here are some commonsense safety rules:
• Always unplug any electrical appliance when
cleaning it.
• Do not run appliances near the sink or running water.
• Roll up your shirtsleeves so they don’t dangle into boiling pots or get caught on the handle of a saucepan. .
• Always use potholders to retrieve items from both conventional and microwave ovens and on the handles of saucepans.
• Keep handles of saucepans turned in from the edge of the range.
• Do not pour hot liquid, especially oils, into small containers. Set them aside and cool to room temperature before transferring them to a storage container.
• Don’t place knives in the sink or dishwashers. Clean, dry and store the knife after use. Keep knives in a wood block or a sheaf.
• Keep a fire extinguisher or a box of baking soda next to the range in case of fires.

WHY DO I NEED TWO KINDS OF MEASURING CUPS?

The simple answer is to measure ingredients accurately so the foods you prepare turn out right. A one-cup dry measure does not equate to the same one-cup of a liquid measure.

For dry ingredients, spoon into a cup and level off with a straight edge spatula. The liquid measure has headspace and you cannot level off with the straight side of a knife. Improper measuring of dry ingredients (flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cornmeal) can cause baked goods to be dry or sauces to become too thick.

To measure liquids, use clear measuring cups with spouts. To accurately read, hold the cup at eye level. Or, with the new angled measuring cups, read measurement markings by looking down into the cup.

HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER I HAVE THE RIGHT SIZE PAN?

You are ready to make the cake or a pan of brownies and your recipe calls for a 9-inch square pan. Yet the pan is not marked. Using a 12-inch ruler, flip the pan over and measure it across the midpoint of the pan in both directions.

For a saucepan or fry pan, measure across the rim, at the midpoint. Tube pans, again measure across the midpoint. For casseroles or other baking dishes, measure water in a glass measure and pour into the dish to just below the rim of the dish. If you like, mark the bottom of the dish with a permanent marker.

2 Responses to Q&A

  1. Bill says:

    I recently moved to a new apartment and my kitchen became even smaller. A small kitchen island became the answer for so many items that just didn’t fit in the new space:
    http://eptemplate.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/small-kitchen-island-perfect/


    http://eptemplate.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/the-three-best-items-i-have-purchased-for-the-kitchen-items-for-the-dorm-room/

    Whomever makes it, a small chopper|stick blender|whisk combo is a nice little tool to have around. I bought my first combo because I wanted the stick blender for a Curried Apple Soup that I was making. But, the chopper that came with it became my more popular tool. I have used it to make salzas, pestos, ice cream, and recently am on a hummus kick. *Would be an excellent tool for a college student in a dorm!

    • GadgetGals says:

      Thanks for your comment about combo tools. Space is a big issue of many cooks, even those not living in apartments. We are seeing many more manufacturers introduce multi-functional products. Computer tech is enabling them to be better performers, too.

      Nan

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