Into The Kitchen Window

January 21, 2009

We owe much to the fruitful meditation of our sages, but a sane view of life is, after all, elaborated mainly in the kitchen.
~Joseph Conrad

Despite my earlier palaver (albeit genuine and sincere) about The Table, it is openly admitted that this site is all about The Kitchen, where your culinary universe is truly created. Ranging from the intimate, meditative moments of solitary preparation to the almost melodic cacophony of the sizzle, splatter, chopping, clanging, whisking and the chatter at a triaged dinner party, The Kitchen is a microcosm of your ever changing world and even the world’s cultures. Not to be forgotten are the sublime, varied scents and aromas permeating The Kitchen coupled with the hued tableau of fruits, meats, vegetables gracing the counters and stove tops.

The Kitchen also serves as a place of learning as your body of culinary scholarship expands through experimentation, improvisation, advice, lore, clues, cookbooks, websites, blogs(?)—all muses inspiring at differing creative levels. Immerse yourself in this wisdom, simply take the plunge in this both mundane and sacred cuisine room, and you will cook with a unity of purpose unencumbered by fear. Even in The Kitchen, knowledge is power.

The Kitchen can be home to many memes — sometimes defined as cultural units or patterns of behavior that are passed from one generation to another by imitation, emulation, repetition (not genetically); they are the cultural counterpart of genes, and what better place to receive, create and pass on your tribal memes than The Kitchen.  A means to search for and tap into ancestral memories.

A space common to all of your kith, The Kitchen embodies the cultural dynamics of domestic life: how, what and when you acquire, prepare, cook, serve, eat, preserve, and store food; what utensils, cutlery, furnishings, and appliances you use on the day to day or for special moments—reflecting human ingenuity’s meeting with the problems posed by daily necessity and the desire for social comfort.

Fret not if your space is tiny, as a no-frills, “microkitchen” still cooks exquisitely. Tiny kitchens foster mystical idea rooms.  A high tech, lewdly expensive, expansive cook space does not make an admirable cook. Just be selective with the basics and replace your perceived inadequacies with savvy and moxie. After all, cooking is just cooking, right? As Mario Batali once noted, “only bad cooks blame the equipment.”

How to accouter The Kitchen, your kitchen? Well, it all varies on your available space, culinary comfort level, what you tend to cook, etc. Some basics follow which are subject to personal bends and tendencies. As with Silk Pantries, this list is not meant to be either exhaustive nor suggestive of absolute necessities. Rather, it is intended to offer some ideas for you to ponder over, accept or reject based upon personal likes and surroundings. I try to avoid overwrought, rube goldbergesque kitchen thingamajigs as they tend to be relegated to the far reaches, never to be seen again. Throughout this ongoing project, posts will discuss more specifics about materials, preferences, uses.


Blades — Knives (8”-10” chef’s, bread, 8” carving, 7” santoku, 5”-6” boning, 5”-6” sandwich/utility, 3”-3 ½” paring) carving fork, shears, mandolin (slicer), 12 bladed apple corer, sharpener, honing steel, cutting boards, knife block or magnetic strip, mesh cutting glove

Spoons — Metal/wooden/slotted spoons, ladles, spider, metal/wooden/silicone spatulas, balloon whisks, tongs

Vessels — 7 ¼ qt. Dutch oven, large roasting pan & rack, 2 & 4 qt saucepans, 6 qt sauté pan, 9” &11” non stick skillet/fry pan, 2 ¼-3 qt saucier, 12” grill pan, 8-12 qt stock pot, large wok

Plug Ins — Food processor, Kitchen Aid, pasta machine/attachment, drying racks, waffle iron, coffee (spice) grinder, immersion hand blender, rice cooker, ice cream maker

Miscellany — Salad bowls, pizza stone and paddles, salt & pepper grinders/shakers, cruets, mortar & pestle, food mill

pastry & basting brushes, pasta drying rack, baster, dough whip, potato masher, nesting bowls, mixing bowls, baking sheets, pastry bag, tortilla warmers, food scale, silpat, cake pans, cake rack, wooden rolling pin, silicone rolling pin, jellyroll pans

casseroles, baking dishes/au gratins, loaf pan, muffin tin, pie plate, tarte pan, ramekins, soufflé dishes

colanders, sieves (fine meshed chinois, china cap & medium perforated), cheesecloth, funnels, grater, microplane, thermometers (candy & meat), blow torch

shellfish shucker, heavy rubber or “chain mail” glove

peeler, zester, citrus reamer

timer, measuring cups & spoons, can opener, oven mitts, salad spinner, spatter screen, latex gloves, hot pads/trivets, hot mitts, pasta drying racks, olive pitter, egg slicer, apple corer

tool crock

Hooch — Corkscrew, champagne bucket, shaker, wine stopper, strainer, cocktail stir, muddler, stainless steel toothpicks