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09/22/14 at 11:05am in Cooking
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I figure it's high time we have a thread about all things cooking since most of us are known to eat from time to time.

Me? I love to cook indoors or outdoors. Here are some of my essential items I have to have ready at all times (in order of importance):

Indoor

1. Electric Pressure Cooker

This puppy is my go-to. I can make roasts, carnitas, stews and soups in usually around an hour; at most 2 hours. Before this, I'd use my crock pot once or twice a week. Since purchasing my pressure cooker, my crock pot has unofficially been retired and the reality is, I use my EPC damn near daily. This is a must have, especially for those with limited space.

2. Stainless Steel Cookware

I went to the Prince William County fair one time and watched one of those cooking demonstrations with super-ply blah blah blah stainless steel pots and pans from some guy who had a wireless head set on. I was sold until I saw the price. THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. Thanks to our friends in China, the same quality can be had at a fraction of the price. The handles are plastic but who cares. I've had this set for 5 years now and it rocks. Only thing missing is a small frying pan for eggs which you can get for 5 dollars at Target.

3. VitaMix Blender

Jamba Juice and Starbucks can eat a big bowl of dicks; this is the same device used to make all those fancy smoothies but you can do it yourself at a fraction of the cost. AWESOME for making hot soups. Mine was bequeathed to me from my mom who didn't want it anymore. Her loss. It's one of my most prized possessions and it's over 20 years old - still going strong.

4. Cast Iron Skillet

No kitchen is complete without an old fashioned cast iron skillet, especially for making steaks and pork chops. Sure, not as versatile as stainless steel but they are also easier to clean up and they get better with time. I think you can get a set of 3 at Harbor Freight, of all places, for less than 15 bucks.

5. Enamel Cast Pan

I picked this up on a whim at Marshalls for 20 bucks and didn't think much of it, but I use it far more often than I thought I would. A perfect compromise between cast iron and stainless steel. However, it cannot handle heat over 500 degrees so not nearly as versatile as the other cookware I own. Still, great for going from the stove top into the stove or under the broiler. Great piece of cookware: easy to clean and not as limited as cast iron.

Outdoor

1. Weber Smokey Mountain

I prefer smoking over grilling; grilling to me is like indoor cooking outside. The "oohs" and "aws" I get from outdoor cooking always comes from my "low and slow" cooks on a smoker. This is the perfect outdoor smoker for a new comer, with a modest price tag. I've had mine for 7 years now and use quite frequently - during the Summer, damn near every other day. I do have an issue with the capacity of this particular unit (really hard to get a racks of ribs to fit).

However, if 8 hour cook times are an issue, check out:

2. Orion Cooker

This thing is pretty great, especially for quick fixes. As a device, it's hard to describe since super hot coals are placed on the outside while the food is cooked in a sealed container inside the cavity. Cooks very fast. Works great on poultry but I've had mixed results with pork.

3. Weber Gas Grill (no need for a link - we've all seen these)

I'm a Weber fan. Weber grills are the Honda Civics of backyard grills. Simply, they work and work well. However, like I said before, I'm not much of a grill person. As I type this now, I tend to think I prefer high-heat cooking inside and save the outside cook space for smoked magic. But, a Weber gas grill rounds out the spread nicely and I use it occasionally.

Very occasionally.

4. NEW FOR 2014!!! The Ugly Drum Smoker

Image

For the last week I've been building one of these from scratch (actually 2 - 1 for me and another for my buddy). It's very similar to my WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain) but with a much, much bigger capacity. And holy shit, I'm building this myself! I'm about 8 drill holes away from calling mine done. Pictures to come!

Instructions can be found here.

5. Fillet Board

I'll spare the details but if you fish, and you cook the fish you fish for, you need this. Keep it outside - there will be blood.


So what's in your kitchen and what are you cooking?

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09/22/14 at 11:13am in Cooking
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Wow. Now I am really hungry.

I actually love my paella pan. It is great for simmering meats in sauces. Also my crepe pans.

My most important tools probably are:
Blender
Standing mixer
Hand mixer

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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09/22/14 at 11:15am in Cooking
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I've never had a standing mixer but I do sometimes use a hand mixer. Not often though.

Can my favorite Admin illustrate the benefits? Cool

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09/22/14 at 11:19am in Cooking
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She can, but she is drowning at work at the moment.

Maybe later.

The short answers:

- The more you beat eggs the lighter your dish will be. The standing mixer is great for that. I can turn it on and go do other things, while is whips lots of air into my eggs, and makes them light and lemony yellow.
- You need to freeze your bowl and mixer, when you are making whipped cream. The hand mixer fits perfectly in the freezer.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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09/22/14 at 11:20am in Cooking
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I'm playing Cooking Mama, does that count?
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09/22/14 at 11:20am in Cooking
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(09/22/14 11:19am)Nicole Wrote:  She can, but she is drowning at work at the moment.

She? I was hoping Zachary had the answer.

z!ng

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09/22/14 at 11:21am in Cooking
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Ouch!

Does Zachary know how to cook?

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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09/22/14 at 11:28am in Cooking
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With Zachary being the demigod he is, I can't see a situation where he didn't cook superbly.

Excuse the double-negative.

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09/22/14 at 11:38am in Cooking (Latest Edit: 09/22/14 at 11:39am by UncleDuncan.)
Post: #9
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FoodPr0n:

Pulled pork.

Cook time: ~ 11 hours.

Prep:

For the pig - dry rub (paprika, cumin, pepper, salt, touch of brown sugar) applied the night before. Not much to it.
For the smoker - basket full of Kingsford briquettes and a handful of apple wood (chunks, not chips)

Notes:

Fired up the WSM for this batch while I was building my Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS). It was a hit. Goes great with 10-12 beers.


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09/22/14 at 12:58pm in Cooking
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(09/22/14 11:20am)Pretzel Kaiser Wrote:  I'm playing Cooking Mama, does that count?

Weird, monotonous Japanese cooking game? Damn right, it does.

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09/22/14 at 01:07pm in Cooking
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What the hell does that lady say when you mess up anyway? It sounds like "dude not mine"..

Where? Behind the rabbit?
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09/22/14 at 01:11pm in Cooking
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I have been making soups quite a bit lately. I would be lost without my Mortar and Pestle.

Mine is a rather large and heavy model I picked up at an Asian food market while looking for chopsticks. (I have the same issue at hardware stores)

Anyway it is a rather big hunk of black granite and endows a person with a lovely "cave man" feeling with use. I use it for breaking up bullion cubes, breaking down fresh herbs, and pulverising anythign that needs to be pulverised.

Also knives. I hate dull knives.

Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate! - William of Occam
I'm serious now, who here wants my job? - NASA Director James Webb
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09/22/14 at 02:42pm in Cooking
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(09/22/14 01:11pm)Zimmy Wrote:  Also knives.  I hate dull knives.

I debated adding knives to the original post, but I think it's a given? Anyhow, I couldn't agree more: a decent set of cutlery is pretty essential. Although, for cooking, one really, really good chef's knife might be all it takes.

Also, if anyone is thinking about buying new knives, NEVER stick your sharpened blades in the dishwasher. The grit in the detergent dulls 'em.

And that's one to grow on.

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09/22/14 at 02:49pm in Cooking
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Marshalls. I shit you not. I just bought 3 high end Calphlon knives at Marshalls 1 paring, 5" Chefs and a 8" Chefs. Together less then 60 bucks. No they are not the best knives in the world, but they are also not crappy either. Calphon makes a fairly decent knife. These are their German Steel line.

Pro Tip. In addition to no dishwasher, no knife drawer unless it has seperators for the knives. they will bang against each other and chip. Knife blocks are your friends.

Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate! - William of Occam
I'm serious now, who here wants my job? - NASA Director James Webb
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09/22/14 at 03:40pm in Cooking
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The best knife storage is magnet strips on the wall.
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