A friend of mine sent me a facebook message the other day asking if I could recommend a good set of pots, pans and knives to her. After I gave her the rundown of what I personally use at my house, I figured it may be of some interest or help to some of you if I shared my everyday kitchen cookware essentials! This might be helpful if you’re getting married as well. If you’ve ever registered for gifts, you know it can be somewhat overwhelming to make a choice with all the different options available. Even more so when trying to stock a kitchen if you’re not much of a cook. Most of the kitchen cookware I use on a daily basis where found and loved by chance. I greatly appreciate companies that sell most of their items “a la carte” because I’m one of those people that likes a hodge podge of kitchen cookware. My personal rule of thumb when choosing kitchen cookware, is to pick items that you are going to utilize the most. Evaluate what it is you cook on a regular basis and go from there. No need to buy items that are just going to take up precious space in your kitchen. You also don’t have to spend and arm and a leg on good cookware. Don’t buy the cheapest, because you’ll get what you pay for. But, if you buy good quality kitchen cookware items with middle of the road pricing, your pots and pans should last for many, many years.
I use Emeril Lagasse pots. These were a random pick for a registry. I knew nothing about them other than the name and the fact that they weren’t in a set when I picked them out. It wasn’t until I got them home and was able to compare them to a couple pots that were already in the cabinet that I really figured out how much I liked them. I have the 1 quart saucepan and the 3 quart saucepan, which are perfect for everything from boiling pasta, cooking rice, making sauces, soups or steaming veggies. Because of my stove/oven combo (aga), I end up putting most of my pots and pans in the oven to cook rather than leaving them on one of the burners. The Emeril pots are heavy, cook very evenly and have clear tops. This is a biggie if you’re cooking something like rice. You can see firsthand if there’s any water left in it rather than taking the whole top off and ruining the pot of rice. You can tell this has happened to me a time or eight? The other thing I love about the bigger pots, is they have a side handle opposite the main handle. If you’re getting a heavy pot of soup out of the oven or transferring boiling water across the kitchen, being able to grip a pot on two sides makes things a little less stressful. Especially for your toes. The price point on the Emeril pots, in my opinion, is very reasonable as well. You can find them several different places, but if you get them at Bed Bath and Beyond, you can use the handy 20% off coupon that come in the mail.
For sauté (or fry) pans, I’m a big fan of All Clad kitchen cookware. I’ve gotten away from non stick pans over the years and the aluminum/stainless All Clad pans are the perfect replacement. For me, there are two things that I don’t mind about using a pan that’s not non stick. (1.) I don’t use cooking sprays. Only real oils like olive, nut or coconut. Sprays are gross and artificial and I don’t want the chemicals anywhere near my food or the food I cook for other people. (2.) It doesn’t bother me to put a little bit of elbow grease into scrubbing a pan if something accidentally sticks to it or turns a little brown. If these two things don’t bother you, you will loooooove these pans. Technically you can use cooking sprays in them, it will just leave a weird film over the surface that is very hard to wash off. These pans are fantastic for sautéing veggies or searing fish and they do great in the oven which, again, works well for me since they will inevitably end up there at some point during their use.
For knives, this may be a little old school, but I love Cutco. I can remember my mom buying a set from a door to door salesman years ago. She still has the same set and every time I’m at my parent’s house while she’s cooking, she has one in hand. They last forever! Of all the knives I’ve tried, and there have been a few, these are the best. I was given a set of their table knives a while back and after eight years they are still the favorite in my cutlery drawer. It’s a very efficient, yet somewhat dainty steak knife. Can steak knives be dainty? We’ll say yes. They literally will cut just about anything. The only draw back to Cutco knives, is they are still sold through direct sales. However, if you go on the website you’ll be able to find a rep near you to order from.
It took me a long time to come across a good baking sheet. Residential kitchen stores don’t sell good ones that are sturdy and don’t rust, so I started buying baking sheets from restaurant supply stores and have never looked back. They are sturdy aluminum, they don’t rust and they turn out some darn good baked goods!! On top of that, they are incredibly reasonable. I think I’ve purchased mine for under $12.00. Don’t stop there, they have great cake pans too if you like to bake. If you live in or around the Upstate and you’re looking for a place to buy baking sheets, I like Joyce Kitchen Equipment in Greenville, SC. That’s where I buy the majority of my kitchen essentials. If you’ve never been in a restaurant supply store, take a few minutes to look around. They have all kinds of gadgets, kitchen cookware and kitchen essentials to peruse. And the to go containers!!! I could spend hours playing with all the options. Can you tell it’s a kid in a candy store scenario when you put me in a room full of kitchenware? Yep…huge food dork.
And that, my friends, is what fills up the cabinets and drawers at Carolina Girl Cooks headquarters. Also known as my house.;)