Calling all "judges" for the annual DG County Fair! Vote for your favorites here!

Whats your most valueable piece of equiptment

Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

If you could only have one piece of equiptment in your kitchen what would it be?

Mine is my food processor. I couldn't be without it.
I use in in so many ways.

Paul

Richmond, VA

Food processor, for sure, Paul. It is a time saver.


Arias

Missouri City, TX

For my DW it would be the mini-food processor, for me it is the mandolin -- that is if you don't count the knives. Knives are first for both of us.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

My knives. I buy the best that I can afford and cherish every one. There are dire penalties to anyone who doesn't use them for their intended purpose...or fail to put them back in their sheaths.

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Knives/cutting board, both used almost daily. I don't much use small appliances or gadgets these days but own a food processor, crock pot, standing mixer....gave away the bread machine--not a fan.

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

I guess I'll have to say my hand mixer. Hand held can opener,
okay, if I must. Hand cutting things, alright.

But mixing? Uh uh. Not me, give me a hand mixer.

:-) KM

Oakland, CA(Zone 9b)

Tossup between:
Good sharp knives

Teflon frying pans - I have two of every size: 6", 8", 10" and 12". I use them daily!

Kitchenaid mixer (the old model, that lasts forever unlike some of the newer KA ones)

Blender - I sorely miss my stainless steel commercial blender that finally died after 20 yrs of hard use. I've tried a couple of different hi-powered bar blenders, but haven't liked any of them as well. May have to go to a Vita-mix, which I really didn't want to do.

Food Processor - I don't use this all that often, but for certain recipes, it does the job better than anything else.

Waaaay Down South, GA

Okay ... if we're not listing the obvious stuff like the stove which I use daily and couldn't be without ... then it would have to be my Showtime Rotisserie. :) Got it last year for Christmas, and even though I'm very limited on my kitchen space, I'll always make room for one. :)

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

Oh, yeah, the rotisserie indeed.

We have two of the same Sunbeam cookers.

Put a chicken on the cooker, give it a shower in the sink, and
sprinkle Cavendar's Greek seasoning all over it.

100 minutes later, all of your neighbors just happen to be knocking
at the door for a cup of sugar.

When I cook rotisserie chicken and cornbread sticks, the family
is present in full.

:-)

Other honorable mentions? George Foreman grill and two items
I will never buy cheap again...a garlic press and a pizza cutter.

Waddy, KY

I'll have to say my Kitchenaid mixer and Fridgidaire stove are my two most important pieces. I use the mixer and oven 5 days a week from the middle of April to the middle of November mixing quick breads for Farmer's Market. It the height of summer I make about 54 batches of bread a week. The first year I had a hand mixer figuring it would be more convenient but after I burned two of them up I pulled out the big guns and it sits on the counter and never gets put away. I also have the grinder attachment which is wonderful for grinding meats for meat salads.

The oven is not a true convection oven but has the speed bake feature. I can put 4 9X5 pans and 18 3X5 pans on two racks and bake them all at the same time with excellent results.

Janet

Bessemer, AL(Zone 8b)

does a vacum sealer qualify? if not my knives are my favorite

Parkville, MD(Zone 6b)

I can't decide between my microwave/convection oven, slowcooker, and vacuum sealer.

If you insist on one only then its my microwave.

3516planter sends...

Clifton, TX

Oh man.. that's hard. My knife.. a Henkle santoku, very inexpensive Target varity, but I love it.
My hot rod red Kitchenaid mixer.
my COFFEE POT and Cuisinart burr grinder
my crock pot.. yep I still use it
and my computer. I get lots of recipes from it.

Bessemer, AL(Zone 8b)

way to go george- my kitchenaid mixer is blue. bought the meat grinder for it too

Clifton, TX

Jordan.. I got the ice cream attachment with it, a special on TV and then later I got the pasta attachment. Love it.
I got it to make cookies for my husband when he was in Kuwait in 05. I tried to send him cookies at least once a month. But he rarely got over one or two .. he shared with everyone. :)

I make sourdough bread once a week with mine too. I have a bread machine but I would rather use my mixer.
Do you use the meat grinder much?

Midway, TX(Zone 8b)

My favorite kitchen tool is my food processor/grinder. I use lots of garlic and many herbs and I don't know what I would do without it.

Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

My favorite "can't do without it" is my Pampered Chef Covered Skillet....it's the perfect thing to fry, bake or make sauce in....good size for two of us when you want to make enough for leftovers the next day...I absolutely love it.....my "old timer" is my Tupperware mat that rolls up to store for making pie crust ...I've had it at least since the late 60's/early 1970's...it is a complete necessity for flaky scones.....Deb

Jim Falls, WI(Zone 4a)

I peel so many apples for the freezer that this time of year it is my apple peeler. Otherwise I just love kitchen gadgets and can't decide on one. I have to include knives and frypans in there also. If I was rich I'd buy all kinds of stuff!

Just imagine an overstocked kitchen! LOL

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

hands down, my digital pressure cooker.

Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

my dream is to have a overhead pot rack filled with gleaming copper pots.....and really if I'm dreaming my best one is to have a personal cook to go with it.....ves522, is your apple peeler one from Pampered Chef, perhaps?....I've never gotten the hang of using it...Deb

Jim Falls, WI(Zone 4a)

No it is a $10 one from farm and fleet! LOL

Clifton, TX

my mom and I are wanting to get a pressure cooker.. but just can't decide on what to get.

-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

My knives are very important, my black skillet, and my mini-food chopper, which was a gift many years ago. It took making spaghetti sauce from four hours to one. I can't live without it any more!

Clifton, TX

Hey Flowrlady I lived on the coast of Ms for 30 yrs.. Used to know some one from Olive Branch, but I can't remember who LOL

I used to use my mini chopper all the time but for some reason I don't so much.. it is a huge help though.

-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

Hi Georgart. The coast is quite different from the north boundary of MS! I like to go to the coast whenever I can... I've only lived here 6 or so years. :)

Deatsville, AL(Zone 8a)

Most valuable peice of equipment for me would be my coffee pot probably because I not only make coffee in it, but also tea. Cant go without sweet tea in Bama.

Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

another must have in my kitchen is at least 20 of the little paring knives that Pampered Chef sells....couldn't be without them....and they are so inexpensive....Deb

-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

Ditto on the paring knives from Pampered Chef... That's what I purchase when I go to a party.

San Tan Valley, AZ(Zone 9b)

I turned the question around to "If my kitchen was on fire, what is the first thing I would save?" and my answer is, without hesitation, my binders containing unpublished recipes. These are the ones passed down and around the family. There are also the original recipes from myself and friends, the ones that are irreplaceable. Everything else could be replaced if lost.

Ronan, MT(Zone 5b)

Everything starts with a good knife. If you don't have one get one. Then mini food processor and don't forget a seasoned 10" cast iron skillet. If you have these I Guar-On-Tee you won't go hungry.

New York, NY

Yes, a couple of my knives, of course. But beyond that, any of the half-dozen pairs of spring-loaded Vollrath tongs. Most useful extensions of the human hand ever made. Watch a good saute cook as his tongs fly back and forth over six or eight burners, flipping, nudging, basting, deglazing, picking up hot pans, dishing out food . . . Tongs are one of the five or six absolute musts at any station in a restaurant kitchen.

I can't go along with the mini chopper. I've had them, and they all go in the garbage. If you count cleaning time, there's nothing I can't do faster with a 10" chef's knife and a good wire whisk. On the other hand, a heavy-duty food processor, preferably one with a continuous-feed attachment, also ranks in the must-haves.

Funny thing. I've seen lots of these polls, and no one, absolutely no one, ever mentions a steel. When I'm prepping, the steel is always within reach, and it gets used a couple of dozen times a day, maybe more, depending on the work being done. And, while I'm babbling, I'll confess that I don't like the diamond ones. Good old butcher steel.

If you've read this far, here's a plug for The Knife Center http://www.knifecenter.com/welcome2.html
a great knife vendor (with whom I have no connection whatsoever other than having bought something and been satisfied.

-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

Okay, Scallionboy, "absolutely no one, ever mentions a steel." What is a steel?

New York, NY

QED.
A steel is a thin, slightly tapered rod of very hard steel, with a wooden or plastic handle. I'm sure you've seen them. They're not for sharpening knives; that's the job of a stone, or series of stones. The steel is used to keep a fine edge on a knife.

If you were to look at a greatly enlarged photo of a knife edge, you'd see that although to the naked eye it looks smooth, at a micro level it's like a serrated blade, with tiny teeth. As the knife is used, the teeth get bent, making the blade duller. Swiping the knife against the steel at a 20 degree angle realigns the teeth.

One of my first jobs as a cook was to make about 5 gallons of onion soup every morning, which involved slicing a whole lot of onions. I got real fast, and the slices would come flying off the blade in an arc. But I could sense when, after a few minutes, the knife was dulling slightly and I'd give it a few quick passes on my steel (and wipe it) and the knive would be razor-sharp again.

Most people use knives that are, to a working chef, very dull indeed. You might think that very sharp knives are dangerous, but the reverse is true. Dull knives are a peril, because they don't cut true, and tend to slide rather than slice.

I've got the stitches in my hand to prove it.

Get a steel, learn to use it. You'll be a much better cook.

I'm chatty tonight, so let me add this: I could have done the onions on the slicing machine. But the slicer tends to mash the onions a little, releasing considerably more juice than the knife, and preventing the slices from caramelizing as well, which negatively affects both taste and appearance.

And so to bed.

Thumbnail by Scallionboy
-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

Wow! That's beautiful! One of my pet peeves is going to someone else's house and their knives being dull as a doornail! I appreciate your explanation (lesson), and I hope you will give us lots more!

Where is the best place to buy a reasonably priced steel?

New York, NY

Sorry to be so long in answering. Been busy busy busy.

If there's not a good kitchenware store near you (or, probably better, a butcher supply shop), you can always try here: http://www.knifecenter.com/. I've only bought from them once, a little folding sharpener for my tackle box, but they have a good selection and the prices seem very fair. Again, I see no reason on earth to spend a ton of money on the most expensive ebony-handled, diamond-crusted steel you can find, unless you admit that you just think it's very bonnie and you'd love to have it.
Another thing: for no good reason, some steels do not have a guard where the handle meets the shaft, or they only have a little one. Take it from me--please, take it from me--an errant stroke that lands on the top of your knuckle or the back of your hand, especially if you're honing a larger knife, is NO FUN AT ALL. Make sure that there's a good-sized guard. And, although I don't do it, 'cause I'm a big dumb macho guy, you could learn to hold the steel with the shaft coming out backwards, which is to say out the pinky side of your hand, and pressing the point lightly but firmly into a butcher block or something that yields a trifle (not stainless or marble, on which the point will slide).
Last note: I think you should make the effort to find a place where you can pick the steel up. This goes for almost all tools. No matter what they look like in a jpeg, it's not the same as feeling the balance, the length and the size of the handle in person. Remember: steels are virtually indestructable unless you're using them to operate the jack on your car or something. You'll NEVER wear it out. So find one you like. This is one area where I'd suggest spending a little extra if you see something that works for you. Ten or twenty bucks amortized over thirty years is.... is .... not so much every year.

New York, NY

Forgot to mention this:

The steel is for HONING your knives, which is to say putting a finishing touch on a sharp knife. What it won't do is SHARPEN A DULL KNIFE. If you've used your chef's knife for years, or if Someone has used a paring knife to cut cardboard with, the steel is useless. At that point you need to buy a sharpening stone of some kind and do some work.

Please note, further, that none of this applies to cheap, hollow-ground blades (the ones that have a concave section from about halfway down from the spine to the cutting edge). While I stand by my "a good craftsman never blames his tools" adage, it does imply that the tools have some fundamental value to begin with. If you buy a knife for $2.95 in a hardware store, use it to dig weeds with or something.

If you think that honing is a big subject, wait till you get to sharpening. There are only about a gazillion different kinds of stones out there. But K.I.S.S. Get a good stone, not a stone that costs a bundle, and learn to use it. The KnifeCenter has a big variety and also REFERENCE MATERIAL on how to use them.

Gotta run. More to follow.
Bill

Thumbnail by Scallionboy
Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

my fish poacher

-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

I've ordered a steel! Hopefully I will do a good job 'straightening out' my knives!

Mooresville, NC(Zone 7b)

I think I'm in love.....are you single, Bill? ;-)

New York, NY

I was....
in 1979.

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