The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

June 7, 2007

Stuff for the Bachelor’s Kitchen

Filed under: Cooking — Brian Lutz @ 1:48 am

Note:  One of the things I intend to do with this blog is to collect some of the posts I make to the assorted message boards I read into one place.  This is one of those posts, which comes from a post made on the boards.  I will make a post that describes what you’ll find here in a little more detail later on, but I do make something of a hobby out of cooking, and intend to include a fair bit of material related to that on here.

 This thread on asks what cookware a bachelor should equip their kitchen with to prevent starvation, and to possibly impress a lady who might come along.  Since I have a bit of experience with the subject (the cooking part, not the lady impressing part,) I came up with the following list of items that my own kitchen is equipped with.   Note that most of my pans came from a Wolfgang Puck stainless steel set I got for about $100 at Sam’s Club that has thus far served me well. 

Pots and pans:

  • 12″ stainless steel saute pan – Definitely the most versatile pan in my kitchen, and until I recently got a pair of enameled cast iron dutch ovens, I found myself using this almost every time I cooked something.
  • 10 quart stockpot – For boiling stuff.  Doesn’t get used for much else, but it gets used plenty nonetheless.
  • 4 quart saucepan – I have a couple of saucepans, but would probably be OK with just one.
  • Cast iron skillet – Mine is badly in need of reseasoning at this point, but it’s also quite versatile, although it’s not used as frequently as my other pans.
  • Crock pot – Great for Sunday dinner.
  • A couple of good baking sheets – Admittedly, these get used mostly for frozen stuff in the oven, but you’ll probably find use for more than one
  • Electric griddle – Not quite as frequently used as some of the other stuff, but great for breakfast food, and easy to clean.
  • Enameled cast iron dutch ovens – A chirstmas present last year. These are Lodge brand, and get used relatively frequently for braising and things like spaghetti sauce and stroganoff.  If you’re on a budget you can probably skip these (since even the non Le Creuset ones aren’t cheap) but they’re definitely nice to have, and give you the ability to make Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe to boot.


  • A good set of stainless steel mixing bowls – These get used all the time for prep and storing food in the fridge.  Mine came in a set from Costco
  • A set of ingredient bowls – Just basic small bowls of clear glass.  You can use them for mise en place, and you can put them out on the table for condiments and they won’t look out of place, or just use them for snacks..  I keep 8 of them in the cabinet, but rarely use more than 4 unless I’m making something with a lot of ingredients in it.
  • Cutting boards – You’ll want several, to minimize the risk of cross contamination (I keep separate boards for meats and veggies.).  I use the cheap flexible cutting boards from Ikea (something like $4 for 2 of them) and although they won’t last you forever, they work just fine, and are cheap when you need to replace them.
  • Knives:  When I moved into my own place, I bought an 8 piece Faberware Pro forged knife set (8″ and 6″ chefs knives, 3″ and 4″ paring knives, 4″ serrated knife, shears, honing steel and block) for $25 at Ross (great place to shop for the basics, as long as you’re not too picky.  In fact, I bought probably $300 worth of stuff for my place at Ross when I moved in here.)  Of these knives, I use the chefs knives on a regular basis. and the other knives infrequently.  They’re no Henckels or Wusthoff knives, but they’ve held up well (I keep them out of the dishwasher, and hone them after use.)  I’ll probably eventually upgrade the chefs knives to Henckels at some point, but for now these will do just fine.
  • A good colander:  Shouldn’t need any explanation.  I find stainless steel works best.

Nothing fancy.  My dishes and silverware all came from Ross.  The silverware will probably hold me for a while, but at some point I’m probably going to need to replace the dishes, since there were some pieces broken in the box, and I will eventually need more place settings than I have.  For the time being, these will work just fine though. If there’s one additional item I’d include here it would be a set of steak knives. Again, nothing fancy.  but you’ll definitely want them around, ad most silverware sets won’t include them.

Utensils and tools:
Indispensible items:

  • Kitchen timer (Especially for someone as easily distracted as myself, since I probably need to be reminded on occasion that I’ve got something in the oven or on the stove.  This probably not only keeps be from burning food on a regular basis, but probably keeps me from burning down my apartment,)
  • Spring-loaded tongs:  Used mostly for the grill, you’ll want more than one pair.
  • Spaghetti strainer:  Great for retreiving all sorts of stuff from boiling water.
  • Silicone covered spatula –  I use this mostly with the enameled cast iron pots, to avoid damaging the enamel.
  • Small metal spatula – For the stainless steel pots.  This one’s not all that obvious, but I’ve got a little stainless steel spatula I picked up at the grocery store for something like $6.  When I bought it, the cashier actually asked what I’d ever use it for.  I’d have to say that little spatula is probably the most versatile little tool in my kitchen.  It works great for deglazing, stirring, breaking up stuff in pans, scraping stuff out of cans, or even straining stuff in a pinch.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to retrieve this little spatula from the dishwasher and quickly wash it…
  • Can opener – Mine came in a set of OXO stuff sold at Costco, and works quite well.
  • Peeler – Get a good one, a cheap one will either rub your fingers raw  or mangle them while trying to use it.
  • Cheese grater – I’m partial to the one I got at Ikea which comes as a lid to a container for storing rhe cheese in.
  • Ladles – I have a couple of these of different sizes, and use them often.

Items that are nice to have:

  • Microplane grater – I use it for parimgiano and other hard cheeses, or zesting citrus.
  • Silicone spatulas – I’ve got a couple of these, but they all seem cheap.  I haven’t really found one of these I like.
  • Basting brush – I use one of the silicone ones, which is a lot easier to wash than the natural type.
  • Instant Read Thermometer – I just got a cheap instant read thermometer, and it works, but it doesn’t come with anything to hold it in place.
  • Oven thermometer – I find that the oven in my apartment is somewhat less than consistent with temperature.  Once I got one of these, I found that 325 on the dial ends up a lot closer to 375 in actual temperature, which explains why following the directions on a recipe can sometimes result in setting off the smoke alarm….

Appliances and other stuff:

  • Rice cooker – This was a birthday present before I moved in here, the result of numerous ill-fated attempts at rice cooking.  I don’t use it often, but it’s a “set it and forget it” solution to the problem, and also works for steaming veggies.
  • Hand mixer – I’d love to have a KitchenAid mixer, but with limited counter space I’m not entirely sure where to put it, and there’s also the cost.  I think I’ll save that for the wedding registry (assuming it ever happens.)  In the meantime, a basic hand mixer will work for the few times I need a mixer.
  • Gas grill – You have to be careful, because some apartments won’t allow these. Mine does though, and not only does it satisfy the whole “big hunk of meat on fire” urge, but it also comes with a side burner that’s a lot better at cranking out the BTUs than my stove and  keeping heat out of the house during the summer.
  • Microwave – I have a small one that I picked up for cheap, and to be honest, I think I could probably live without one.  It does get used, but not as often as I might have expected when I bought it.

That’s a a fairly comprehensive list of the stuff I use on a regular basis in my kitchen.  Beyond that, there’s not much I can think of that I really need, and most stuff I acquire beyond that ends up being extraneous anyway. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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