Good morning. The whole giving up coffee thing didn’t last long. I’m weak. I gave in to the need to be awake in the morning after not sleeping all night. Enough about my addictions for the time being. Let’s move back to talking about my culinary experiences. To cook we need GADGETS. I have discovered that throughout this whole “How to Cook: American Style” cookbook project I will be adding to the Gadget List as I use new ones. I own a few of them. Correction, I own a whole heap of them. Maybe I should rephrase that as I have “collected” a lot of them.
I recently received a letter from a fellow co-worker and reader on the subject of Gadgets. He began his email talking about his favorite Commercial products. He advocated for all things of commercial quality to buy VOLLRATH. Saying “A one stop shop for a quality lifetime product, almost always made in USA. From measuring spoons, ladles, pots, & pans to ovens fryers, slicers and EVERYTHING foodservice or restaurant related. Lasts a lifetime+
I would totally agree with that statement. I have seen their pots and pans in many restaurant kitchens that I have had the privilege of being in. Here in the school district, where I work at my REAL JOB, they have a culinary program. I believe they use many of their pots and pans as I recall seeing them hanging in the classroom kitchens. This by the way is an AMAZING high school program and not just cooking but BAKING too! Sorry about that diversion; now, back to the program.
I have never thought to look for Vollrath cookware before but he suggested that I start looking for them at garage sales and estate sales. Speaking of estate sales, I was at one this weekend run by Pair of Picker’s. Pair of Picker’s are some of the nicest people I have met at one of these things. This weekend alone they sold my son Sam a set of dishes that included a magnificent soup tureen. I can’t wait to use it and fill that puppy up with some matzo ball soup. Thank you guys for all the resplendent items I have purchased over the past few years from you!
The next item on his list was knives. I have always looked for good knives at garage sales. I find I have better luck at estate sales for these items, as no one wants to give up their best knife while they are still alive. I know it almost sounds strange to buy things at an estate sale, but for me it is always better to buy something at an estate sale then have it go into a landfill. If you plan to start a chef’s knife collection, then I would begin by getting a good knife carrying case or Chef’s knife roll to store them in. Amazon has loads of them. I purchased mine in a store called Su La Table in the Smithhaven Mall. The knife roll along with one knife was a Christmas gift actually. I have since filled up the entire roll and perhaps have been thinking of getting a second one. Yes, I’m crazy like that. Any-who, long story short, Pete recommends “DEXTER RUSSELL USA, not the Dexter Russell Japan International (it’s a thicker blade) knives. Takes an edge, with a thin blade, inexpensive, NSF plastic handle etc.” Again, this too is now on my list of things to look for.
Now we move onto more about pots & pans. This is an essential cooking utensil (is that an alliteration?). I myself have two pans that I absolutely love and they are both made by All-Clad. Pete however, prefers to use his 1985 Cuisinart Commercial Stainless cookware. That’s pretty specific there, Pete. He explained to me that it was “Made in France with a sandwiched copper slab between the pot and the stainless bottom.” I know this is good for heat conductivity but more importantly, even heat conductivity! He has been using these pots and pans for 35 years and expands his collection at thrift shops and yard sales. When Pete is not using Cuisinart pans, he has a collection of cast iron frying pans. His favorite is his 10” Griswold made in the USA cast iron frying pan. He tells me: “they have a SMOOTH interior bottom, easy to cure or strip down and season again, not like the new pebblly bottomed Chinese/Lodge stuff.” Thanks Pete, which is what I own. He gave me a whole lesson next on how to strip down and season cast iron frying pans. Perhaps I need to impart some of this wisdom on that subject to more than just the BSA Scouts. The Scouts all learn how to season cast iron pots every year in some troops, as many of them use cast iron pots to cook in all year long. They are a marvelous thing to use in those campfires and with charcoal!
So check out my latest update to the Gadget List. Have fun collecting and have fun cooking! Thank you for the email, Pete. To the rest of you, keep those emails coming! I love hearing from you!
Be well, cook well, and eat well!
The Drunken Chef (Russ)