Kathryn Cooks: Part 1, Getting Started

So, before I start writing about one pot dorm cooking, I should probably go over some of the things that you’ll need. These recommendations are different than what I’d suggest if you were buying pots and pans for a full kitchen, but this is what I went looking for in order to have something to cook on this summer.

The Pot:

Normally, I would say to stay clear of non-stick in anything other than a cheap skillet for frying eggs, but since you’re only going with one pot that you’ll use for everything–including eggs, go for the non-stick.

Ideally, you want something like this:

It’s called a chef’s pan. It’s large enough to boil water for pasta, but it’s shallow enough that you can cook steaks or fry eggs. The nice thing about a chef’s pan is the sloped bottom, which allows you to use a whisk when making sauces. You don’t have to go for a pan with the rounded sides though, I just bought whatever was on sale at Macy’s when I went in, which in this case was this pan:

Don’t buy it from Amazon though, $80 is ridiculously overpriced, I got it on sale for $30.

Utensils:

You want something that’s not going to break and wind up burning you, but don’t go for the expensive ones, just something reasonably sturdy. 

The useful thing about the spaghetti server–that’s the second one from the left–is that you can use it for more than just pasta. It’s also great for scooping vegetables like asparagus, since we aren’t going to bother with a strainer.

Knife:

If you’re only going to own one knife, your best buy is a chef knife. It looks like this:

You can use it for everything other than slicing bread. Really good chef knives run in the hundreds of dollars, but for your purposes something like this suffices.

Oh, and you should get a cutting board too, because there’s nothing that will destroy a knife’s sharpness faster than cutting on the wrong surface.

Staple Ingredients:

At the very least, you need salt, pepper and olive oil. 

Extras:

A cheap rice cooker is nice, not only does it cook rice, you can use it for soups and pasta. Mine kept me from starving at points during undergrad. I also love cast iron skillets, but if you’ve got limited space that’s not convenient. And, in any case, I’m not going to be making anything that can’t be cooked using a single hot plate as a heat source, if that’s all you have access to.

And with that, we’re ready to begin. Come back tomorrow and we’ll start cooking!

Note: I used Amazon referral links for the pictures because it’s the easiest way to embed pics and avoid copyright infringement, but don’t think I’m sending you there to buy stuff. Just go with whatever you find that’s affordable.