Monday, August 14, 2006

Expenses of Temporary Housing: Cooking

So, in addition to the cleaning supplies I wrote about in this post, I'm finding that this sublet makes me want to spend money in one other major area: kitchen stuff. The first place I stayed in for a few days was with a relative who doesn't cook much. There were some nice pots and pans, and beautiful plates and glasses, but the fridge was empty and there was no salt or pepper in the house. (There was also no microwave, which made it a shame that I had given my old one away before I moved.) So I bought some salt and pepper as a donation to the household, which cost me about $5. (They were the little jars that have a built-in grinder.)
As for this sublet I'm in now, at first glance, it seemed like there were plenty of kitchen supplies. After all, I've always been accustomed to having a fairly minimal kitchen, and it was only within the last couple of years that I went from having only 2 mis-matched drinking glasses (what remained after breaking the rest of the sets) to adding 2 new matching glasses to my collection.
But as I soon discovered, a lot of essential cooking tools are missing from this kitchen. And the ones that aren't missing are filthy. It appears that their owner believes that one must only rinse a pan after, say, frying bacon, rather than washing it with soap and a sponge. Yuck.
So far I have bought:
1 small plastic drinking glass (I couldn't go so far as to drink wine out of my coffee mug)
1 plastic slotted spoon
1 foil cookie sheet
Pepper (this place at least had salt!)
1 metal mixing bowl (mainly for salad. This is something I needed anyway, since I only had one bowl in my last place and I would occasionally have moments where I realized I couldn't make salad because I was mixing something else in that bowl.)
These probably total around $20. There are several other things I have wanted to buy, but I don't want to go crazy duplicating all this kitchen stuff I already own. If I ever find myself having to live with all my belongings in storage again (but let's hope I don't!), I think I would keep a special suitcase with a basic kitchen set-up in it. Here's the stuff I use almost every day:

1 large frying pan, preferably with lid
1 small-to-medium sauce pan with lid
1 steamer basket insert for sauce pan
1 sharp knife, medium size (not a tiny paring knife but not a huge one either)
1 mixing bowl (about 12" diameter)
1 slotted spoon
1 unslotted spoon
1 pair metal tongs
1 plastic cutting board
1 small glass jar (for making salad dressing)
can opener
coffee mug & plastic holder for individual coffee filter
1 each water glass, wine glass, plate, fork, knife, spoon

That is really basic, and I might be forgetting some things that I'd really want, but with that kit, plus a roll of tinfoil, I can probably make most of the things I tend to cook on a regular basis. If I wanted to take it up a notch, I'd throw in a kettle so I wouldn't have to boil water in the saucepan, and a microwaveable dish with a lid. And I could probably buy it all for under $100 if I wanted to, though I might have to spend more than that if I bought good quality pans and a decent knife.

What do you consider kitchen essentials? How much would you have to spend on them?

Oh, and here's what passes for fine dining chez moi these days:


Anonymous said...

I am still experimenting with what works for me, and I think I am about half way there. I have a huge spice rack (actually an entire cupboard) because I really enjoy cooking.
But as far as utensils go this is what I use nearly everyday:
Cast Iron Pan
saucepan (medium size and small for reheating foods - no microwave)
knife (I have a wustof purchased by husband and a smaller knife that I like because its easier to deal with)
measuring cups
mixing bowls (stainless steel and plastic)
cutting board (small and large)
aluminium foil (for use in the toaster oven)

I believe that's it. I use my hand alot when cooking, and I don't trust any fancy gadget like a kitchenaid. My favorite item is definetly the cast iron pan as I dislike dishes moving around when stirring. Plus it serves as a good weapon.

BTW, I am another long time reader and love your blog. :)


Anonymous said...

Whoops Anonymous #1 here. Forgot to answer the 2nd part of the question on cost.

Our plates/cups/saucers/bowls was left behind by a previous tenant. So it was free.

The measuring cups, Wustoff knife was about $80 (Williams Sonoma - I have since learned about restaurant supply stores)

Everything else is from ikea or kmart. Total of about $80.


Anonymous said...

If I were you I'd put a plate and a bowl in my suitcase.