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  1. #11
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    18

    blender vs food processor

    i noticed blender on your list of nessecities- but no food processor. I'm know all of this is very subjective, but i hardly ever used a blender when i had one (i downsized it eventuaally), but use a food processor fairly often.

    also, maybe a bit about materials. they all have pluses and minuses for different applications- but maybe there are some general advantages and disadvantages you could talk about with each:

    silicone vs stainless steel vs aluminum vs wood vs plastic vs glass/pyrex

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  3. #12
    Senior Member
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    Re: blender vs food processor

    Quote Originally Posted by sara struever
    i noticed blender on your list of nessecities- but no food processor. I'm know all of this is very subjective, but i hardly ever used a blender when i had one (i downsized it eventuaally), but use a food processor fairly often.

    also, maybe a bit about materials. they all have pluses and minuses for different applications- but maybe there are some general advantages and disadvantages you could talk about with each:

    silicone vs stainless steel vs aluminum vs wood vs plastic vs glass/pyrex
    Good point. I will add the food processor. I use my blender a lot because I make smoothies and such- I don't use my food processor as much. But it can be really helpful when one is in a hurry, and I do see your point. Incidentally there's now a combo food processor/blender on the market. Has anyone tried it?

    As for materials, it's interesting how many people here on the list (especially under 'consuming pleasures') love silicone. So I think it's important to mention. I'll get to it.

  4. #13
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    Nov 2004
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    NYC
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    Wood, metal, clay, plastic: A Primer on Kitchen Materials

    In the kitchen pretty much every single item you use to help you cook is made from wood, metal, clay or some form of plastic. It might be a good idea to talk about the properies of each one, so you can know how best to outfit your kitchen.

    Wood

    Woods are found in a variety of places. The advantages are many. Wood is sensuous to the touch and is often beautiful. It wears well when given proper care, doesn't melt or crack because of temperature changes, and can be made into a variety of objects. From the olve wood that's often used for salad bowls to the hardwoods used in chopping blocks, wood is versatile.

    Advantages: Wears well. Contrary to popular belief, it is germ-resistant; when wood dries after cleaning, most of the dangerous germs and microbes are no longer a threat. Heat and cold-resistant., so it can be used to hold very hot and very cold items. Biodegradable and reusable; comes from a sustainable source.

    Disadvantages: Potentially flammable if put near direct heat. Can crack or warp if soaked in water. Should not be put in dishwashers or left soaking in the sink. Most items need to be oiled at least once a year with mineral oil so as to preserve their lustre and not dry out.

    Items: Bowls, cooking spoons, cutting surfaces, serving dishes, flatware and knife handles.

    Metal

    Kitchens would be impossible to run without metals. Kitchen metals come in different densities for different jobs, so let's look at the most common ones.

    Copper
    Copper is a beautiful metal that polishes up beautifully. It's used as a component in the best pots and pans because it conducts heat evenly and well. Copper also has a property that ledns itself to baking: egg whites beaten in copper bowls tend to fluff up faster and keep their peaks longer than ones made in other materials. The problem with copper are that items made from it are extremely expensive, and have to be polished or they will tarnish, or even turn green from oxidization and get a probably unwanted patina.

    Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel heats well, looks good, and doesn't rust (hence the name). Your best midrange to high level cookware is made of stainless steel, as are many quality cooking implements, including knives. Choose relatively thick steel items rather than thin, flimsy ones, and your items will last for pretty much forever and are less likely to warp from too much heat. Stainless steel knives hold an edge well, but like all knives, they need to be sharpened periodically. Make sure you are buying quality knives- cheap ones are simply stamped out of metal and will not hold a good edge. When buying pots and pans, try to buy ones that can be used inside the oven as well as on top; this type will have metal handles.

    Carbon Steel
    Some of the best cook's knives are made from plain steel. However, they need to be given the type of love and care one might reserve for favorite children, since they will rust if left wet or can end up with chipped blades if hit against something too hard. While not as brittle as stainless knives can be (cleavers are usually made out of carbon steel), they hold a marvelous edge, making their care worth every oiling (you can use mineral oil or olive oil) and sharpening. A good set of knives will last a lifetime with proper care. Always buy the best knives you can afford, as the better quality ones remain sharper longer, which actually makes them safer to use (dull knives tend to slip and twist). You can get good knives from restaurant supply stores. Garage sales are also a good place to find these items. Most quality knives come from Japan or Solingen, Germany. If you are left-handed and the main knife wielder in the household, consider having your knives re-sharpened to left-handedness by an expert. You'll find that your knives will be easier to use and cutting will go much more easily.

    Cast Iron

    Cast iron is primarily used for some tea pots, frying pans and Dutch ovens. Unlike other kitchen metals, getting a cast iron piece ready for use takes a little bit of owrk. The pot or pan needs to be seasoned, that is, heated with oil, which will give it a stick-resistant surface. The advantages of cast iron is also its biggest disadvantage- it's heavy! The density of cast iron makes it slow to cool down or heat up, which makes it perfect for cooking items like fried chicken, corn bread, and braised meat and vegetables. It retains moisture and provides a good crust or sear to whatever is cooked in it as high heat. Cast iron darkens and turns from dark gray to black over time as oil accumulates, forming a kind of protective skin. It should not be allowed to sit in water or it will rust, but a little cooking oil will make it look fresh again.

    Advantages: Iron imparts a bit of itself to your food, which is great for those suffering from anemia.
    Disadvantages: Because iron can rust and is on the heavy side, it requires a little extra care than other pots and pans.

    Aluminum
    Aluminum is usually used with other metals. It's used in bakeware, pots, pans, and other items, but it can be very flimsy if not bonded with steel, copper, or other metals. It cools and heats quickly, which means that foods can easily burn in aluminum cookware and have to be watched carefully. It also tends to warp from heat. Because of the warping, you should consider buying relatively thick cookie sheets that will hold their shape, if possible. There was a scare a few years ago about aluminum- it was thought to be linked to the cause of Alzheimer's. However, nothing has been proven on that front.

    Clay and Stone
    Clay (and less frequently, stone) appears in many shapes in the kitchen. Most dishes are made from clay, and a good many oven-to-table dishes, too. Clay and stone are very good at retaining heat, which makes it perfect for hot pads and dishes that will be used on a buffet or for a large dinner; if unglazed (that is, without a shiny hard coating) they can be very porous, making it perfect for absorbing liquids and giving a crisp or seared texture to breads, covered roasts, and other foods. Clay and stone items should never be plunged into cool water until they have cooled; doing so can cause the items to crack.
    Stone is usually used for baking pizza (granite) and candy and pastry-making (marble, which tends to stay cool, is great for kneading breads, tempering chocolate, and rolling out cookies). Because it's heavy and expensive, most 'stone' kitchen items are made up of composite materials and stone-like plastics that hold up under repeated use. Stones like marble should not be used as cutting surfaces as they dull knives quickly. And since many clay and stone items are porous, unglazed items should not be allowed to sit in water for long periods of time or be in contact with anything that is oily or pungent (unless used for that single purpose), because they might permanently absorb the flavor and smell.

    Tempered Glass

    Tempered glass (a specially-treated glass made specifically for kitchen use) is similar to clay and stone and has many of the same properties as both. It can retain heat, is relatively fragile and can be broken if dropped or hit, and can last for years with proper care. It does have two advantages over unglazed clay and stone, though- not only is it not porous, but it doesn't retain the flavor of anything that is put in it. While heat resistant, glass should not be put directly on a stove or in an oven unless it's made to be used that way.

  5. #14
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2004
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    portland oregon!!!
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    What about a list of environmentally friendly cleaners? Not just "buy this brand," but homemade scouring powder with borax and baking soda. Would this go here?

  6. #15
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2004
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    Northern California
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    by "tempered" steel do you mean high-carbon steel? tempering is a heat treatment or pressure process that most metals go through*. good knives that are available these days are high-carbon steel. REALLY good knives, that you can't buy anywhere unless you luck out at a thrift store, are just carbon steel. carbon steel rusts, blackens and wears down, but it gets much sharper than stainless and retains an edge better. stainless is very difficult to sharpen adequately. i absolutely covet my mom's carbon steel knives, and make do with the most expensive high-carbon knife i could afford. i have a $120 Wusthof santoku knife that is pretty good, but does need to be sharpened after every other use.

    on the topic of knives, a steel is crucial for knife-maintenance. they're the round, grooved swordlike things you always see in thrift stores because nobody knows how to use them.

    like anthrogirl said, sharp knives are much safer than dull knives. you use less pressure to cut, and the blade doesn't slip off the food.

    i think it's better to have one or two good knives than a set of cheap ones. i can use a 4-6" paring or utility knife and a 8-10" chef's knife (or santoku) for everything. a serrated knife is nice for bread and tomatoes, but i find that a cheaper serrated knife is fine because they are hard to sharpen anyways. however, i don't eat meat, so i don't know what kind of specialty knives are needed for that.

    *strike that, really cheap knives are just stamped out and shaped, not tempered.

  7. #16
    Senior Member
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    Northern California
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    another thing about aluminum cookware is that it reacts with acidic foods and can alter their flavor or discolor them. plus the pan itself discolors. some people are paranoid about aluminum because of that whole "aluminum causes Alzheimer's" scare, but that was never proven conclusively.

  8. #17
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2004
    Location
    New Mexico
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    330
    I remember when my husband and I first started out in our little apartment. We were poor and had just the basics. Perhaps we can have a bare bones, low budget alternative list too?

    Here's my suggestion for that:

    4 plates
    4 bowls
    4 glasses
    4 mugs
    silverware for four
    two good knives for cooking
    1 baking sheet
    1 wooden spoon
    1 mixing bowl
    1 spatula
    1 measuring cup-with markings for different amounts on the side
    1 measuring spoon set, often four sizes come in a set
    1 bowl with lid
    1 fry pan

    While having more items is nice I think a skelton kitchen supply list would be a good addition.

  9. #18
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    Jul 2006
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
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    75
    A note on cast iron pans, a small amount of iron does transfer to the food. There was a steady rise in enemia (low iron) as newer pots and pans were introduced. Using cast iron can help keep you healthy, especially if you don't like food high in iron (like liver). When properly taken care of, cast iron pans will last a very long time. They are also easily converted to 'camping' pans as they will withstand open flame or a BBQ grill. Most are also 'one piece' so if dropped the handle will not break off. Just be sure to have good oven mitts/pot holders. -PHH

  10. #19
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    Nov 2004
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    NYC
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    Hey, Stella! Thanks for the tip about knives. I haven't finished this post yet (I've been busy grading papers) but should get to it today or tomorrow. I'll point out the difference between carbon and steel. Yeah, most knives are just stamped out.

    I agree on having one good knife rather than a set of bad ones. I inherited several carbon steel knives that were originally bought in thrift shops. I had them resharpened for my left hand. It turns out that one can get them re-done- for years I had wanted a left-handed knife but didn't know such a thing was available. As it turns out, lefties seem to be more prone to kitchen accidents (and accidents in general) than righties, probably because most of the equipment is designed for right-handers, even down to spoons and mixers.

    Using the steel is important. I'll find a website that has steel using instructions and link to that. I appreciate the reminder.

    Dear Princesshammerhead,
    Thanks for the info on iron pans. I had forgotten about how healthy they are, and I will put itn the info. While one can break such a pan, it takes some owrk to do it (like dropping it on a stone floor or over a cliff). Again, I'll add the info.
    For the next few weeks I'll be here more often as I'm on break. I'll also be gearing up the community book again so we can knock it into shape.

  11. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
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    75
    Quick question about cutting boards. Both plastic and wood have been mentioned. How about marble? I just recieved one for xmas it is beautiful, but can it be sanitized? It is non porous and would not mar from the knife???Just curious. -PHH


 
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