Category Archives: How to Cook “American Style”

Cooking Utensils (Gadgets)

No good cookbook would be complete without this list.

So far this is a short list of things we will be using to cook with in the “How to Cook” section of this website. You may want to keep this list handy like taped to the fridge or even print it out and casually leave it laying about for holiday season and birthday gift ideas for your yourself. Heck just come right out tell your life long partner and all your friends about the list too. This way you can be surprised with presents for a change, instead of flowers or a neck tie for your birthday (not that I don’t love BOTH those things)! The list will be getting longer as I add all kinds stuff to it as we use them to make the recipes I post. I could go on about all the gadgets I have collected in the 30 plus years that I have been cooking but that would take all the fun of it and writing this post would take ALL day. So lets explore all the gadgetry there is out there as we learn to cook with each item together!

Below are just a few items I have used already since starting this project and testing the waters on whether I could write about every meal I make in my kitchen or someone else’s kitchen. The items in green are some of recipes that I will be posting as the year goes on (maybe if I’m tech savvy enough I can turn them into links to the recipe). It will also be pretty magical to see if I can keep this posting stuff up or will I crash and burn and never finish my life long dream of writing my cookbook that everyone can use and understand but only time will tell.

The following is a recommended list of items that I have “collected” and have used thus far:

Oyster blender, bottle and corkscrew opener, cocktail shaker, ice bucket, pitcher, shot glasses, drink glasses, mugs and wine glasses…just to name a few.

Hamilton Beach DrinkMaster and Ice cream scoop

Charcoal Chimney Starter sold at Amazon, Loews and ACE Hardware’s stores

Thermometer

Digital Instant Read Thermometer

Vegetable peelers

I use this item for peeling the skin off vegetables such as potatoes for Latkes, or Apples for Sherry’s Apple Pie, Apple Cake

Vegetable Chopper

Zyliss Classic chopper. The 18/10 stainless steel blade operates like 5 knives in one. It rotates automatically for smooth, even chopping from coarse to very fine. Sharp enough to chop onions and vegetables. Strong enough to chop nuts and ice. Its easy to clean – just rinse it like I do, then place in the dishwasher. This is Great Gift/present (hint hint).   I use it use it for chopping onions as in Meatloaf or Baked Beans mmm beans.

Vegetable Steamer

Used when cooking steamed vegetables like the fresh artichokes I made for Jennifer.

Crinkle is Cut Serrator

Have I made home made French fry’s yet? Nope I guess not but I will do it soon. They are the perfect accompaniment to a grilled steak that is made over charcoal! My crinkle cut serrator features a stainless steel blade, brass rivets and a smooth easy to grip wood handle. Its the ideal tool for cutting vegetables, like potatoes for home made French fries or anything else that needs a crinkle cut to look fancy.

Pots and Pans

Cast Iron – These old classics come in many sizes today. I only still use one, a very large and very deep pan. This pan is perfect for deep fried chicken. Because of its heavy weight it holds the heat well keeping the oil hot. But because it’s heavy I also tend to use it less often but it has many other uses. For example it’s perfect for home fries, eggs and bacon. When new this pan may need to be “SEASONED”. Cover entire with vegetable oil and place in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. To clean this giant just use warm water as soap will remove the protective oil. Someone told me the best seasoning to use is bacon grease. This pan improves cooking flavor over time. Used for frying chicken or in recipes like Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. I also have a cast iron pot that is used on camping trips.

I even heard somewhere that you get the extra benefit of of the much needed mineral of iron just from cooking in it. It also seems that since people stopped using them to cook in regularly we might have to take a pill sometimes or eat spinach to get that in our system! Huh, its just what I heard and I don’t really know how true that is but I found it “interesting”.

Porcelain – Porcelain covered pots come in many beautiful colors now and can be very attractive hanging up in the kitchen. These pots are also nice to cook in.  I found one of mine at a garage sale and even received one as a gift! HAHAHA! Fit this in your suitcase to take home! Well yes I did! I love it now but cursed as I carried it through the airport in my carry on!

Dutch oven – This is a large Porcelain coved pot. Just like the aforementioned airport verity. It is 7 to 9 quart cast iron (heavy) pot that is ceramic covered and with a lid (for extra heaviness).

Teflon – This Dupont non-stick classic cookware always looses it non-stick effectiveness. The best way to make your non-stick cookware lasts it’s longest is with a few simple tips. First never use metal cooking utensils such as metal spatulas or folks. Many, if not all-cooking utensils come in Teflon friendly products. I own plastic spatulas, wooden spoon and tong are just a few items that should be used to cook in these type of pots and pans. Also putting Teflon pots and pans in the dishwasher shorten their life. Clean all Teflon items by hand using a sponge or brush with mild dish soap such as Dawn (product plug only because I like that commercial where they help clean off those cute little oil covered ducklings with Dawn).

Teflon pots and pans come in MANY brands and qualities.  I have owned several different styles over the years. I still have one large pan left that I use for omelets. They have to be replaced regularly because they ALL seem to loose there non-stick surface after a while.  I keep a couple different sizes and I buy deferent qualities pans depending on their eventual purpose.  The small pans I buy the least inexpensive.  I always try to keep three good ones on hand. One is large (12 to 14 inches is huge for an Irishman). This one is in great condition (the pan, not me) and used to make eggs and other things that stick to other pans. So I don’t use this pan for grill cheese, or burgers, Steaks, etc.  The other pans are smaller and less expensive. These I replace more often, and I use these for eggs for one person when new and eggs begin to stick to it I replace it.

Lately I have purchased the new Gotham Steel copper color ceramic nonstick frying pans. I like the 9.5 for making eggs. These seem to last longer then their Teflon cousins but I never really made note of it for sure. So I don’t want all those DuPont people coming after me hold their pans like torches so it resembles a scene from the movie Young Frankenstein!!

In the category of Teflon pots, I also own one. This is stickily for things like cheese sauce and that pot even has a pouring lip on it.   I have had this small “Calphalon Sauce Pan” for 20 years! They still make it and its even found on Amazon.

Stainless steel Pots and Pans – These Pots and Pans are almost indestructible. There is no non-stick surface to worry about and thats why they can last generations. Unlike the cast iron pans, dish detergent and scouring pad or cleaners including comet can be used to keep these pans looking like new. I use a scouring pad and cleanser on the bottom of these pans to remove heavy burn on food.

My favorite band of stainless steel pots and pans is All-Clad These pots and pans are VERY expensive so I only own two but they will last generations.  My first All-clad pan was brought at a close out store (Marshals) and was purchased with a cover at a great price maybe 15 years ago! I never saw another one the same size and at the same price again there. I do look still. 

My Second favorite, if you can believe this, is Ikea 365 – The pots I purchased at Ikea are 18/10 stainless steel and seem very durable. They are also much less expensive then the All-Clad brand. They come in a verity of sizes. The first pot size is the small saucepot. The second is the medium 2-quart saucepot and I also own the large 5-quart pot. They all came with lids!

I own one Pasta Pot – this stainless steel pot comes with a strainer insert perfect for making large amounts of pasta for a big tray of Baked Ziti or Lasagna for entertaining.

Stockpot – This huge pot can be purchased anywhere. I bought mine in an old-fashioned hardware store that carried kitchen supplies.  It holds 10 quarts. Its perfect for Chicken Soup or Corn beef and cabbage.

Tea pots – Can be purchased anywhere and can even be covered with colored porcelain like the old fifties style pots. I like my stainless steel teapot because it’s easy to clean and whistles when the water boils. I am considering getting an electric one (gift hint). So many electric appliances so little time.

Measuring cups

Pyrex –this brand is glass measuring cups that come in various sizes.  I recommend having on hand the one cup (16 ounce), one cup (32 ounce) and one 4 cup (64 ounces) Sizes.  These are perfect for measuring liquids.  I use the four cup size to make pancakes. They are dishwasher safe. Used for liquid measurements in such recipes as Baked Beans.

Stainless steel stacking – 18/10 stainless steel cups designed to balance without tipping. Cup sets should include 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1-cup measures and be dishwasher safe.

Plastic stacking dry measuring – These are only a necessity if you are planning on making the friendship bread recipe that requires them. I also like then because they are light weight. So of course I own more then one set!

Plastic Liquid measuring – I own these too and use them MOST often because they are light weight. Mine have lasted years and always wind up in the dishwasher. They are made by OXO.

Measuring spoons

Stainless steel liquid measuring cup– I have one that is 4 cups. Because its metal with a plastic covered grip I sometimes use this to serve gravy in on non formal occasions. I really need one of those insulated gravy servers. Just sayin.

Knives – I have two knife blocks on my counter. Plus I own a chef’s knife roll. I received that as a Christmas gift that was purchased for me at a chefs supply store but you can find many types on Amazon too.  My knife carrier is filled with the knifes I have collected from estate and garage sales. Knives is one of those things you should try many different kinds of to find the ones you like the best. Some of the best knives are made by Dexter Russell USA. Good knives make great gifts too. The really good ones can be really expensive but the sharper the knife the LESS likely you will be to cut yourself. Picking out good knives is a whole video lesson unto itself….Here are a few essential ones to own”

Butter knife/place knife – we often referred to this knife as a butter knife growing up. The most common use being to put butter on your bread, vegetables or when cooking with butter in recipes such as Apple Cake. It is a relatively dull knife with a rounded tip.  It comes standard in most flatware sets.

The following is usually in the standard knife block: Serrated bread Knife – This is the best style/type knife for slicing fresh bread, rolls or  for slicing cake in recipes like Ice Box Cake. Pairing knife – Carving Knife – Boning knife – Steak knives –

Specialty Knives – Filet Knife

Filet knife

Spoons

Teaspoons – flatware set Tablespoons – flatware set Wooden spoon – avoid getting hit by them, they hurt. Plastic serving spoons – Metal serving spoons – For HOT food Metal slotted spoon – for Hot Food

Pancake Turner or spatula

They come in MANY shapes and sizes. The ones pictured below are just two of my all time favorites. I have at least 10 spatulas that I have gathered over the years. Some I just use at the BBQ grill for burgers and others were plastic and for use with the Teflon pans that I no longer own.

Whisks

I only have two sizes. One is a large balloon whisk and the other is smaller and I use that one MOST often for sauces or sometimes even eggs and should get a second one of that one. Most times I use mix with a fork however.

Bakeware

Pie Pans – I prefer Pyrex glass pie pans for their even heat, dishwasher safe and classic look. Dark metal pans are ok. Tin pie pans tend to burn the bottom of the pie more easily.

Cake Pans – Williams-Sonoma has heavy nonstick cake pans that promote even baking and browning, feature a straight side and ensure that cakes are released easily. The uncoated Cake Pans from Chicago Metallic’s Commercial line performs wonderfully, and has the added benefit of being dishwasher- safe. Cake pans should be purchased in many sizes and shapes. I recommend two 9-inch-round baking pans for making a layer cake.

Square cake pan are not only used for cakes but brownies, and crumb cakes.  Sizes range from 13x9x2 for crumb cake, 9x9x2 for brownies.

Bundt and tube pans –

Bundt and tube pans allow a hurried cook to make a beautiful, tall cake without the worry of layers. The secret is the funnel, which cooks the cake from the inside out. Bundt pans usually have some sort of cut-crystal design molded into the pan and have tall sides with a hollow tube in the center.

A tube pan, or angel food cake pan, has a funnel in the center, too, but the sides of this pan are smooth, which allows the batter to climb up the walls of the pan as it bakes. Tube pans often have feet, which are little metal nubs that stick out above the rim of the pan, allowing the pan to be flipped over while it cools without smashing the cake inside. If your tube pan doesn’t have feet, chances are the tube center is higher than the sides of the pan, which will give you the same clearance that feet would. Angel food cakes need to cook this way so that they don’t collapse in the pan.

Loaf Pans

Loaf pans come in two standard sizes: 9 x 5 x 3 inches and 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches. You can find loaf pans made of glass, shiny metal, and nonstick aluminum. Glass pans and dark, nonstick pans have a tendency to brown your breads a bit faster than shiny metal, so lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees if you use these pans.

Sifter/Sifting – You can sift flour by purchasing this Kaiser metal sifter. You can also use a strainer and tap the side against the palm of your hand. Used in recipes like Banana Cake.

8” frosting spatula – this great spatula is great for spreading frosting on cake. It can purchase these on-line or at most good kitchen supply stores. This is used in recipes like the Ice Box Cake.

apple peeler/corerThis Peels apples as well as cores them. The apples are all evenly sliced but I think they are too thin for the apple pie or apple cake.

Tongs

The first pairs I would recommend is getting ones that are 12 inch long like the ones below (I have two pair of those). The next pair should be 16 inches and I use those when frying things like chicken cutlets. My next pair is 18 inches. I like to use them when I am at the BBQ grill. I also have a couple of small pairs that, that I received as a Christmas gift, I use for serving at parties. They are only 7 inches long.

304 Stainless Steel Kitchen Cooking Tongs, 9" and 12" Set of 2 Sturdy Grilling Barbeque Brushed Locking Food Tongs with Er...

That’s it for now. Check back often for updates and I will be referring to this list in my “how to cook posts” as we go. I hope the pictures help and of course if you have any questions just ask. You can post a comment here or send an email to me if you don’t want your questions seen by everyone.