Friday, November 5, 2010

Cookbook review: Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen

OK, not really a cookbook. But a fairly indispensable tome for your kitchen, nonetheless. Especially if you're just getting started with cooking and aren't quite sure what you need.

Alton Brown (yes, that Alton Brown) takes you through all the various categories of kitchen stuff, and tells you which are the best to have. The expensive pro stuff is NOT always the best to have, you'll be pleased to know. He also lets you know what's insignificant. You can't have a well-stocked kitchen without at least one really good knife, but you don't need a breadmaker. (Alton is a kitchen minimalist, like me. I have very few single-use items in my kitchen--ice cream maker, deep fat fryer. Most everything is multi-use, and I recommend that heartily. You don't need egg slicers or apple corers or pancake molds or panini presses or the like. It's a waste of money and counter space.)

Note: this book won't tell you which brands of appliances to buy. But it gives you explanations of the most common kitchen stuff, how they work, what they do, and how you can pick what's best for your needs. The section on Pots and Pans alone is worth the price, as this is where most people either try to skimp or don't really know what's best--ending up with cheap crappy pans, and then they wonder why everything burns.

This is also a great book for young adults just starting out. I was once a broke college kid myself, trying to figure out how to cook/outfit a kitchen, with only one hand-me-down wooden spoon and a Salvation Army knife that was too dull to cut through anything. This book would have been invaluable to me. Still is, actually.

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