The past month I’ve been doing rehab for an injury. And as part of that, I’m walking on a treadmill at the YMCA — and that means that I’ve been watching a lot of daytime TV, which I don’t normally do.
There have been a fair number of cooking shows and cooking segments, which I’ve actually found interesting . . . but probably not in the way that they were intended to be “interesting.”
You see, while I enjoy cooking and eating good food, I’m not a gourmet or “foodie.” I believe that you can make great meals with whatever ingredients you can find and that you don’t need a bunch of fancy pans, utensils and other tools.
And so I’ve been just amazed at the equipment that these shows seem to portray as “essential.” You say I “need” a stock pot, lobster pot, corn on the cob pot and a Dutch oven? Oh, pul-leez — I can use the same pot for all . . . and mix bread dough in it, too.
- For several years, I only had a 10-piece Magma nesting set of “pans” that were used on the stove top and oven and doubled as mixing and serving bowls. You don’t need a “bread pan” to bake bread or a “cookie sheet” to bake cookies.
- Aluminum foil can substitute for lots of things — pan lids, grilling pans, cookie sheets . . . I’m sure I’m forgetting many uses!
- Most cruisers use a bottle of wine (or something similar) in place of a rolling pin.
- Chop garlic with a knife and don’t bother with a garlic press.
- You can use a pan lid held just off the lip of a pan to drain food if you don’t have a colander or strainer.
- You can adapt most recipes to whatever size pan you have, rather than getting the size the recipe specifies.
- Need a wok? Use a skillet.
And on and on. The funny thing is that once you get used to using just a few implements, a kitchen with more just seems cluttered.
My advice to new cruisers — whether you’re weekend boaters or moving aboard full-time — is to only buy the essential items initially, but buy high quality items. And high quality doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive! But you want items that will last and do what they are supposed to.
Then, over time, you can buy more. But I almost never buy something the first time I think “I wish I had a _______.” Only if I find myself wanting the same thing over and over do I consider it (and always figure out where you will store something before you buy it!).
So what gear substitutions do you make? And what did you decide you just had to have?