What to cook with

I've posted all kinds of recipes, and posted about how to shop, and what to shop for, and what not to shop for, I figured it was about time to give you some tips on what to cook with.

First, I LOVE TO COOK! Because I love food. You had probably already guessed that hadn't you? I don't often make anything incredibly fancy, or anything that requires a whole lot of work. Some meals I make may take some time, but generally it's the oven or the crockpot that's doing all the hot work, not me. Like tonight for instance, I just popped a pig roast and some root veggies in a roasting pan into the oven, it took me all of 5 minutes to cut up the vegetables. Dinner will be ready in about an hour and a half. It took 5 minutes. Don't tell me you don't have time to cook! 

Roasting pans are first on my list of must haves in the kitchen. I've got 2 metal ones, different sizes (enameled aluminium I think they are), and a bunch of glass ones that double as roasting pans or baking dishes, depending what I'm making. The pig roast for tonight is small, just for me and Mum, so I used one of the glass dishes. The metal ones are more for holiday feasts, when we've got a giant bird and 10 pounds of roots to roast. The larger of the 2 pans has a lifting tray insert that you put the bird or roast on so it's easier to lift out. Definite must have! And a glass baster. Must have a baster.

For cooking on top of the stove, nothing beats stainless steel. Hands down, I won't use anything else. I used to use teflon, but that can be toxic if you're cooking at high temperatures, and it scratches easily, so you end up replacing them often. I prefer to save my money, and not get sick from my cookware. Make sure you get a really good set, the best you can afford. They have to be sturdy, with a thick bottom. If the bottom is too thin, your food is more likely to burn and stick.

A few years ago I bought myself a nice 7 piece set of Cuisinart stainless cookware (at the time, $100US on Overstock.com) that can be used on top of the stove, as well as in the oven because the handles are also metal. This is the BEST kind of set to get, rather than with a plastic handle, because you can't put those in the oven to keep warm, or to cook in the oven with them. The lids are also all stainless, not glass. Contrary to popular belief, (brought on by all those T-Fal commercials in the '70s that have stuck in the collective memory) stainless steel pans are not hard to clean, and after nearly 7 years using mine, I've yet to have anything so stuck on it that I can't get it off. A few minutes soaking in hot water, and easy peasy, scrubs right clean. Most of the time I don't even need a scrubber thingy.

Get yourself a stainless set that includes a stock pot. You'll need this for making things like bone broth, and kombucha. I have a 4L stock pot, and I use it all the time. I was actually thinking of getting myself a second one, because one day I had some broth on the stove, and I was out of bottled kombucha so I wanted to make another batch. *sigh* First world problems, eh?

I also have stainless steel spatula and ladle and other gadgets. I got those at the dollar store, believe it or not! See, you don't have to spend a crap tonne of money on good quality tools. Check out your local dollar store (around here the best chain is Dollarama...no they don't pay me, I'm making no money off any of the products or stores I'm recommending here). I've also got myself some other quality kitchen gadgets at the dollar store, vegetable peeler, paring knives, cutlery, measuring cups, spoons, etc...brand name products, at lower prices than say Kitchen Stuff Plus (which is also an awesome store, just a little bit more pricey, more of a one stop shop for Kitchen stuff...I guess that's where they get their name!). For stirring and mixing stuff, I mostly use bamboo and wood. You can also find bamboo cutting boards at the dollar store. 

For baking cakes and pies, I prefer glass over non-stick metal, but I do still have some metal pans. I just don't use them a whole lot. For cookies and things, I use a regular ol' baking sheet, but I put some parchment on it, because it's scratched. I could also get a silicone baking sheet liner, I keep forgetting when I'm out to go look for one. Dollarama doesn't have them sadly. 

If you like crepes and pancakes, get an enameled crepe pan, it's amazing! I bought mine at Winners (=TJ Maxx in the US) a few years ago. I love making crepes and pancakes on it, because it's easier to flip them without the high edge of the frying pan. And none of the toxicity of a teflon non-stick. Some really good quality ones can be quite costly (le Creuset...oh I wish I could afford everything la Creuset!) but I didn't pay a whole lot for mine.

For soups and stews, you really can't beat a slow cooker (aka Crockpot). I love a good stew that's been in the crock pot for about 6 hours. They come in various sizes, lunch crock size, to 8 quart family feast size. I have a 4 quart, and it's great for a stew for me and Mum, or for a soup to take to a pot luck dinner. I made some squash soup and took it to my work's Halloween pot luck. The pot is still at work. It's difficult to carry a crockpot on the bus! I'd like to get an 8 quart size I think, then I can make a bit extra and freeze half of it for later. Which I could warm up in a lunch crock to take to work. If I had a lunch crock.

Lastly, I will rave about my Instant Pot. There are dozens upon dozens of paleo bloggers who have recipes galore for the Instant Pot. The recipes that came with it are useless to a paleo foody with celiac, so I just threw out the book and googled. I love ribs done in the Instant Pot. Toss 'em in there and 40 minutes or so later, you've got fall off the bone finger licken' good ribs. Or a roast beast. Instant Pot is amazing for a roast beef. Instead of 7 hours, an hour and a half, and it's melt in your mouth deelish! No kidding!

Oh! and check your local charity shops! I got myself a cast iron frying pan for just a few bucks a few years ago. Brand new it would have cost about $70! It's been repaired in one spot on the handle, but where you do the cooking is still perfect. Cast iron pans are great if you have anyone in the family who is iron deficient. They're also great for cooking on an open fire, which is what I use mine for when I go camping. I have a full set of stainless steel camping cookware, but if I'm car camping, I use my cast iron 99% of the time. I don't take it backpacking though. It's too dang heavy! I should check all my local shops and see if I can find a dutch oven. I lost mine in the divorce somehow...I'd love a good dutch oven. Build a fire, and bury the dutch oven under the coals and roast dinner...mmm...mmm...mmm!  Ok, now I'm hungry.

What are your favourite cooking tools and tips? Share below!


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