New to cooking: Am I missing anything?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by twentytwo, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. twentytwo


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    I Just Like Food
    Hey Cheftalk users and perusers. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif

    Brand new to-be chef here. Turned 21 and just moved into an apartment. I love the freedom! But cooking... Whew... What another story. I'm learning to love it. And, making great food I look forward to eating seems to be the only way to coerce this relationship. Right now I'm in the process of cleaning this kitchen (it is so gross..) while taking inventory and could use some help. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif

    I inherited a solid (you'll see what I mean) amount of cookware my parents never used, found some more at goodwill, and some more at flea markets, BedBath&Beyond, Walmart, etc, etc, etc, etc. I'm wondering if there's anything important that I am forgetting or overlooking. 


    Dirty Drawers... 
    -Stoked on sharp steak knives (they should make that one word)
    -Some varied plastic spatulas (one with a curve, one straight, one that is almost ladle like)
    *There's moths. so I put bay leaves in some of the cabinets/cupboards/drawers. No more moths /img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif

    Lame. The ruined bottom rack is removable so I probably could clean it, but it's going to take a whole day. Cool little tray/rack for the toaster oven. Really hope I can save these. Any tips? Cleaning solutions? 

    I really need to replace this peace of crap... Or better yet never use one again. Although some foods are just better in a microwave. And Popcorn...

    The bottom of my plastic goodwill strainer is disgusting and has what I'm guessing is caked on starch. Really gross.. going to be a pain when I get to it. Any easy kitchen hacks I could use to clean this bad boy? Not looking forward to cleaning every single hole...

    Oh yeah... goodwill ladle, fancy stainless spatula, and a ______? knife. All I know is it's strong and sharp. Do you guys think I need to invest in a real knife set in the future once I have a grasp on things? I'm super comfortable with one knife for now. I have a sharpening stone from back packing. What are different knives good for?

    Two Cast Iron skillets I inherited. According to the internet they were in rough shape.
    - I used nothing but bacon to season the little one (it was only dry with some rust spots where it sat on the bottom. 
    - Scrubbed raw and in the process of restoring he cooking surface of the large heavy "Emril" Skillet. I'm thinking about using peanut oil or vegetable shortening to season this one. What about sesame/olive/canola? What are the taste and smoke benefits of using different oils to season/cook my food? I'm digging the oldschool.

    - One cast iron.... grill skillet? I think? It's also from the "Emril" line but it seems to be a few years newer and unused. Should I wash it or add to it's factory seasoning? We got some tongs... coffee. Coffee... and... a cutting board which I saved with lemon juice. 

    - A "CuisineArt" nonstick pan. It's under the specific line "Green Gourmet". It has 0 scratches and appears to be brand new. I know that non-stick can be sketchy at high temps/scratched/old. Should I be concerned. Anyone know anything about this make/model?
    Care instructions? 

    -A "Krona" large SS pot. It seems quality. It's definitely stained though. I can't seem to find a remedy via the internet to take the tarnish out of it. Living in a place with hard water is hard. Also.. a Tri-ply encapsulated base? Whatever that means. Sounds good. 

     Brand New "Calphalon" pot. It's unscratched. And bought in 2013. I heard the new hefty ones like this guy are much safer and durable than the old version. Any opinions? Should I use it or lose it for a cast iron pot (or a small dutch oven) on to keep with the rustic theme that seems to be going on in my apartment. It feels like a real quality piece. 


    Happy Fridge I spent a day cleaning is happy. 

    Ugh... All the cabinet bottoms are like this... and literally impossible to clean. Think putting cloth or pads in there would be the right course of action?

    It's small, it's crude, but I think I have almost everything I need to be(come) a competent chef...

    I'm still left with some wants/questions.

    -Small saucepan. What material is best for this?
    -Cast Iron egg skillet. I've always loved flipping eggs on those bad boys.
    -Some glassware for baking. Anything I should take into consideration?
    -Knives? I'm clueless... sorry.

    How do I clean and fix the grout  in this left for dead ceramic sink?...
    The water here is REALLY REALLY hard. I bought some (dishwasher aid) that's made to combat this... I hope it works. 

    But can someone please give me a legit way to clean the calcium and mineral build up on all of my glass/stainless? There has to be some savvy way that ACTUALLY works. I've tried so many methods. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/mad.gif

    The food in this town is 80% god awful... There's literally no real asian food or market. Few restaurants that are actually good and not tourist traps. Etc, etc, etc... But the markets are amazing... and varied. I have every spice you've ever heard of. I can get everything natural/organic/hippy. 

    Thank you guys.. I hope my food is as tasty as the local /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smoking.gif  that inspires it. Can't wait to figure this stuff out to learn and grow my own style to get some recipes under my belt. 

    Sorry again for being so naive... Parent's really blew it on the cooking lessons... which literally never happened once. Hell.. learning to to cook the bacon I used to season my mini skillet was an adventure. Thank's for the help guys. 

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013
  2. thatchairlady


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    Home Cook
    First, on the cast iron.  If it's crusty, self-clean cycle of oven works great.  No self-clean?  Go quick and dirty with as many applications of spray oven cleaner as it takes to get the gunk off.  If just rusty, have at it with cheap (dollar store) table salt, a scrubber and pleanty of hot water.  Then on burner till HOT and a generous blob of bacon grease... NEVER toss that stuff... keep it in a container in fridge.  Rub melted BG all over inside and outside of pan (leave decent amount in pan) and then into oven for a few hours... maybe 350-375 or even hotter.  Key to getting the most out of CI is to USE IT as much as you can.  It's pretty much indestructable... I'm always on the look out for Wagner or Griswold stuff at yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets.

    I'm a yard sale person and will often take a change on kitchen items... as long as they work, are relatively clean, have directions (preferred for small appliances) and are cheap! 
  3. minas6907


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    Line Cook
    You seem to be off to a decent start. Personally, I'd just get cooking. Its difficult to say if your missing anything, because I think its safe to say that you will gradually accumulate more items as you need them.

    As for what you mentioned in your 'wants/questions,' this is my personal opinion:

    -For your sauce pan, definitely get stainless. If theres a restaurant supply store, check out what they have in this area, you can get great stainless pans from NSF at a fraction of the price for other brands.

    -Skip the glass on baking materials, it breaks and is no fun when it does. Again, I'd personally stick to a metal material for items used in baking, and plastic or polycarbonate with items related to that, such as measuring cups, etc.

    -Definitely get a chef's knife, personal opinion is to get an 8inch, or 10inch if your used to it. Dont get anything too expensive until your really sure of what you like in a knife.

    As for the grout, get some grout cleaner, and possible regrouting if nessesary. Put caulking where needed :).

    Also, toss the goodwill strainer, get a metal one, not very expensive.
  4. chicagoterry


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    Home Cook
    Yes, toss that plastic strainer and get a metal one. Preferably stainless.

    To clean that burnt-on stuff from the toaster oven rack--since it is removable, try soaking it in a mixture of hot water and dish soap with a scoop of Oxy-clean (or its generic, store-brand equivalent.) I've been amazed by what the Oxy stuff can soften. Get a stainless or copper scrubby to help.

    As for the "tarnish" on your stainless steel pot: it probably isn't actual tarnish if it is stainless. It may just be discoloration in the metal itself that will never come off. Do you have a lid for that pot? You will want a dutch oven type pot with a lid that can go both on the stove top and in the oven.

    For the hard water calcifications -Plain, white distilled vinegar can work wonders. If that doesn't work and you are in the States, (not sure if it's available elsewhere) there is a product called CLR (Calcium/Lime/Rust) that comes in a small, grey, plastic jug. You can usually find it in a supermarket. If not there, try a hardware store. Rinse it very, very well. It smells like sulfur, so you really won't need my encouragement to rinse like crazy. You can use it on your sink, too. The CLR should clean it up nicely.

    While you are at the hardware store, look for shelf paper to line those nasty shelves and drawers. People also use contact paper, which has a sticky back and is usually washable. If that orangey mess that's built up there is old grease, you could try spraying on some Simple Green Cleaner and letting it work for awhile. It's a great, non-toxic solvent for all kinds of greasy messes. 

    Really, for all kinds of cleaning and general housekeeping conundrums, get to the nearest, old-style hardware store and start cultivating a relationship there. Look for one with older guys working there. It will be more expensive than your big box place, and the staff might be a bit more curmudgeonly, but the expertise you will find can't be beat.

    For seasoning the cast iron--sesame and olive oils have too low a smoke point. Go with the bacon grease.

    If you're going to be cooking a lot on the cast iron, I'd also get a metal spatula. It will help you scrape up the tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pan a lot more effectively than the plastic ones will and the cast iron can take it.

    I have one of the Cuisinart Green Gourmet skillets. It has remained very slickly non-stick for a few years now but I don't use it a lot. I use my stainless and cast iron skillets much more but it is great for eggs. It is a ceramic rather than a petroleum based teflon-like coating and Cuisinart says it is broiler safe. I've used mine with high heat on the burner and run it under the broiler for a minute or two without worrying but I have a pretty wimpy, old gas stove. 

    I'd also keep my eye out at the thrift store for a roasting pan--stainless is good, though not always easily come by at the thrift-- and an enameled broiler pan.

    For bakewear, I'd suggest going to a good cookware store and getting familiar with what good-quality tinned steel looks and feels like then looking for it at thrift stores. There's lots of cheap aluminum at the thrifts, which you will want to avoid. I do use a couple of pyrex baking dishes which are easily found at the thrift store. 9x13 and 11x7 are standard sizes. A good cookie sheet or two will also come in handy for cookies and pizzas. Chicago Metallic makes a decent, inexpensive one.

    I see you have some plastic, dry measuring cups. Look for a Pyrex or Fire King 2 cup liquid measuring cup as well. Measuring spoons? 

    I'd say yes to a good 8 or 10 inch chef's knife as soon as you can afford one. A paring knife will also come in handy. So will a serrated knife for bread and tomatoes. I'd look at Forschner knives for value.

    I'd also suggest tracking down a used copy of The Joy of Cooking for instruction on how to do most basic kitchen tasks. Many people dislike the "All New" 1997 edition. Earlier editions are fine for the basics. I like the 75th Anniversary Edition, which has all of the old-style instructional material as well as much more up-to-date information on ethnic ingredients we cook with now but it is not as easily found cheaply as the older editions. 
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013