Katie Learns to Cook, Chapter 5 – Tools and Equipment

July 29, 2012

Welcome back for another installment of Katie Learns to Cook!

Another doosy of a chapter!  This week, I read about Kitchen tools and equipment (knives!) and the general organization of a professional kitchen.   Again, a lot of this chapter was geared towards a professional point of view and not the at home kitchen.  Although a kitchen is a kitchen, right? So some of the tools and such can still apply. Right?  Right…we hope 🙂  Here goes!

There isn’t much in the way of vocabulary, but at the same time there is a TON in the way of vocab.  All the different pieces of equipment and kitchen tools, its enough to make you go cross eyed!   So lets just play this one by ear, shall we?

There are hand tools for the kitchen, which can help you to cut, shape, move or combine foods.  These guys tend to have minimal moving parts, so things like veggie peelers (not the technical term, naturally), mallets, all sorts of spoons, zesters (I have this one from Oxo and looooooove it), tongs, spatulas, whisks and KNIVES, which I’ll save for a little later.

There are measuring devices.  Which are pretty self explanatory – Scales, measuring cups/spoons  for liquids and dry ingredients, ladles, scoops, thermometers and timers, oh my!

Of course, the ever important cookware – This was pretty interesting for me to read about all the different kinds of metals used for cookware (pots, pans, etc) and the heat conductions for them all, but then again, I’m a science geek.  There are a ton of metals to choose from, copper (a GREAT conductor), aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, glass (a not so great heat conductor), ceramics, plastics (obviously for storage and microwave purposes), enamelware (not really used a lot) and nonstick coatings (Teflon).  There’s a lot to consider when choosing your pot or pan, do you want to retain heat, do you want to heat something up really quickly, are you looking for faster evaporation vs. slower (pans vs pots?) etc etc.

Strainers and sieves  – most people have a common colander or strainer in their kitchen.  My husband brews his own beers, so we have a lot of cheesecloth lying around and if you like to bake, you probably have a flour sifter (this is on my Christmas list this year!)

Processing Equipment – some of this stuff, like slicers, we don’t need, but Mandolines, food choppers, mixers, processors and blenders are pretty common to find in the everyday kitchen.

Whew, there is STILL MORE, when we’re looking at kitchen tools.  I’ll skip  over the idea of storage containers, its pretty self explanatory.  The last set of “kitchen tools” that the chapter went over, was the “heavy equipment”.  ie the stoves, the ovens, the griddles and broilers.  The fryers, refrigerators and steamers and dishwashers and and and and and and…the list goes on and on and on.   Its amazing that kitchens aren’t GINORMOUS.
But, despite all of this…stuff that finds its way into a kitchen, it all seems to have a place.  Hectic, yes, but has a place.  Which is where the kitchen organization comes into play.  There are roll out storage bins and refrigerators at work stations, as WELL as communal sets around the kitchen.  Its also important to remember, that not every kitchen is designed like the next  (and another important thing to remember if you’re trying to stock your own kitchen, don’t use professional chef kitchens as your guideline, they have a lot more stuff than we’ll ever need!).   For instance, if you’re a bakery, it doesn’t make much sense to have a meat slicer, rather, you should have big storage units for flour and lots of ovens and candy thermometers.   Likewise, if you’re a restaurant that specializes in steaks, grills are pretty important and will likely take up a majority of your kitchen space.

What I thought was pretty interesting, when reading about this kind of stuff, was the idea of balancing out your front space and your (usually, in the back) kitchen space.  The idea that you want to maximize your patron space, so you can seat as many people as you can accommodate and make the most profit, but you HAVE to balance that with the appropriate amount of kitchen space.  If you can only serve 100 guests at a time efficiently, then you can’t very well have a seating space of 200.  And the smaller your kitchen space, the more efficient it has to be.  I’m starting to get the idea that kitchen design is a pretty tricky business…

Like I said, a lot of information in one spot, about a lot of different things.  But next week, I’m excited for the chapter on Knife skills! Finally, something I can practice!! 😉

Hope everyone is having a fabulous and well deserved weekend!

xo

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