01-10-2015, 05:18 PM
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I almost posted this in the "Cooking Goals" thread, but decided it had the potential to hijack the thread so it here instead. Too, I was able to expand on the initial idea as a separate thread.

In that thread folks are talking about getting back into cooking and such, and so much gear available has a good name, and frankly I wonder why those names are maintained. Many times it's built on a reputation from the past that is no longer deserved. Buy that gear and if it's actually used one can be disappointed or even put off of cooking.

I'd like the goal of this thread to be the equipment that works for you. Let us know how hard you use the gear so that folks can judge whether it would work for them.

I've found good equipment makes a huge difference for cooking. I'm also quite frugal. That doesn't mean cheap, it means buy something and use it forever. It just turns out that frugal done right is also the cheapest way in the long run. There is nothing more expensive than junk that one needs to have repaired or repurchase regularly.

All of what follows has been learned by having other appliances and this is what remains after the dust has settled in the junkyard of kitchen gear. In at least one instance I name the names of the guilty.

Mixer: OK, more than a mixer actually, but it also mixes.

I'm about to step on toes (maybe) of some of the Americans on the forum. I can't help it. But it's my opinion, feel free to dissent.

I've had what I thought was the best mixer made. That would be the Kitchen Aid. It puked after 2 months, but I obtained it used but in good working condition. We know the person I got it from and she only used it for 2 years. Once I got it I checked out the gears and redistributed the grease inside, so I know that when I got it it was in good shape. It cost over $100 to get fixed. I sold it to recoup some of the cost. It was a learning experience. At that point I knew what wouldn't work for me and I began doing research.

The more I saw KA referred to I realized that their repair dep't is so squared away because they require so MANY repairs. Make use of theior repair service and you'll understand what I mean. KA repairs are down to a science from experience. KA got a reputation for bullet proof design with what is today the Hobart R50 (?). It sells for over $2000 today and is a good mixer if small capacity (it's also butt ugly). When Kitchen Aid was sold 20- 30 (?) years ago the design was cheapened and it is what it is today.

But in my research for a mixer that doesn't require repairs one name kept popping up. I think it's easily found in Europe, but a bit harder to find here in the US. That would be the Ankarsrum Assistant. It goes by many names, Electrolux, Magic Mill, and more that I can't remember at the moment.

It's not inexpensive, but neither is the KA once one begins requiring repairs. Use it for bread making and I guarantee that it will require repairs if you use it regularly. I told my brother about the Ankarsrum and he latched onto it instantly. He'd already gone through 3 KAs at who knows what cost, so he was ready for the Ankarsrum. If one uses the KA for sitting on the countertop to impress folks, or for whipping cream and making cakes it will last forever. Start to use it heavily and for thick dough and it's life is ticking away.

The attachments are another good part of the Ankarsrum Assistent. The mixer is already far better than the KA, but factor in the attachments and one can remove many appliances from the kitchen. I haven't used my hard to clean Cuisinart since having the Assisent (not misspelled); btw, it's aptly named. The Vita-Mix stays on the countertop since the Ankarsrum blender is intended for small jobs. But uniformly the Ankarsrum attachments do a superlative job. I keep mine on the countertop and readily accessible and it's the first appliance I reach for when I need assistance. Yes, KA has attachments also, but beware. The meat grinder "smears" the meat and produces substandard sausage, but it's only $50 (and plastic).

The first attachment I bought was the "mincer", aka, meat grinder. It's easily capable of 300 pounds of meat per hour and the grind is very good. Of course one needs 2 helpers to feed the operator the meat and remove the ground meat, but the grinder is capable of that rate. I know because I timed it. You'll be hopping to keep the grinder fed and such with only 2 people.

All of the attachments work and work well. The motor base is designed so as not to burn up. No universal motor with brushes here, it's an induction motor that is rigidly protected from overloads. As I wrote, I haven't used my Cuisinart in the more than a year that I've had the Ankarsrum.

The downside? It isn't inexpensive, but it works fantastically, makes fantastic bread that it kneads with the most humanlike kneading action of any mixer that I've seen. I have no idea of the cost today, but if one intends to actually use the machine it has my seal of approval, and I don't give that out lightly. I never have to finish kneading dough by hand as one sees so frequently on the cooking shows that use the KA mixer.

FWIW, I did ask about the grinder on this forum before buying it and was told the truth by Marius (thanks!). Anyone can find that thread in the archives by using the search function.

When I have a kitchen job that needs doing the Ankarsrum is just pulled forward. It stays on the countertop and handy. It's one of my must have appliances.

If one buys an Assistent, let me know and I'll direct you to a youtube video that shows how to use it correctly for bread. Everyone can make a youtube video, not everyone posting knows how to use it. Not even the folks at Cooks Illustrated know how to use it. If one has KA experience, it's best to just flush it and reprogram the mind. Used correctly it's far superior to the KA and has a 100% continuous duty cycle. Grind grain with a KA and you'll get the "suggestion" to use it sparingly, then let it rest for a lengthy time. Forget to do that and it will burn out. There is simply no contest in performance. You'll need to ask Chris Kimble why they don't test the Ankarsrum honestly. I suspect they don't want to because the base of KA mixers "out there" is so huge. Grinding grain I use my Ankarsrum continuously for an hour or so with no problems. It's built for it. Mixing? I can easily mix then knead up to 7 large loaves at once (22# of dough). You'll never even come close in the KA. Of course it can make one loaf too. It does all of this without even approaching the maximum current draw of 600 watts. I know because I have a watt miser hooked to mine to monitor it. One exception... it's easy to overload the blender and trip out the motor. As I already stated the blender is designed for light duty. There is a way around this with the blender, but I'll not go into it in depth (it's actually a hammermill grinder and works splendidly at lower RPM).

BBQ:

If one does BBQ, there is no finer way than in ceramic. There are many ceramic kamados out there. I have a Primo and I've never looked back. Again, Cooks Illustrated doesn't like them, and they've even stated that they aren't versatile. That's just false.

If anything were to ever happen to my Primo I'd buy another in a heartbeat.

It does grilling, BBQ, it bakes, fries, it's my stone "wood" fired pizza oven and bread oven. I can't do all of that in my indoor oven. The one thing that the indoor oven has over my Primo is that it's all weather. I don't have a roof over my Primo, so I don't use it in inclement weather. That's not the fault of the Primo though, I just don't have it roofed over; my fault.

If one only grills get something else, but for hard use and versatility, get a ceramic kamado.

Blender:

While I use the Ankarsrum blender for drinks and such (light blending), when it comes time for heavy duty food destruction I use the Vita-Mix. It gets used extremely hard and put away with absolutely no care. We've had our present V-M for possibly 10-15 years and it's still working. I use it extremely hard. Most folks would never even have a means to use theirs as hard as I do.

If (when) it ever poops itself, that same day I'll be on the phone to V-M ordering another.

If one only requires light duty blending, a "regular" blender will do fine. I can't help there.

So have at it gents! What works for you and why? How hard do you use it? What's good and why? What about it is a weak area?

Feel free to ask questions of those posting here too. After all, if one posts here one should be able to answer questions of those folks who are interested. Heck, to state that something works as it should and not be able to answer questions means one doesn't really know why it works as well as stated.

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 01-10-2015, 06:23 PM
#2
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I want to second the BBQ, if you can swing it get a ceramic. I too have a Primo and it is a most versatile cooking machine. I had a built in at my last house and when I moved a year ago, I had a new one purchased before we even got to this house.

We have a kitchen aid mixer, but I am most certain we don't use it near what Brian does, so it will probably last a few more years.

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 01-10-2015, 07:42 PM
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I was going to say the Vitamix after reading your first part of the thread, Brian. We've only had ours about 18 months but we put it through a ton of use and it just chews it right up.

As for a "non-appliance" equipment that just works I would say an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. I could theoretically cook everything with that thing. I don't even really have a nice once (got it at TJ Maxx) but I just love it. My wife thinks I sneak down to the kitchen and whisper to it at night after she goes to bed.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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 01-10-2015, 07:47 PM
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Great information, Brian!
My Griswold cast-iron pans and Dutch-oven are quite nice. Biggrin

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 01-10-2015, 07:54 PM
#5
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I like my Ninja blender and my Cuisinart mini food processor. The mini is used most. It's small and helps me cut stuff likes unions that I don't want to cry over.

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 01-10-2015, 08:28 PM
#6
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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Although I don't grind a lot of meat, I still use the one my grandmother used, so it must be close to 100 years old. It attaches quite firmly to our table, and I then turn a large handle to grind the meat--so far, the "motor" has lasted 68 years, and it's the same "motor" that kneads our bread dough--I surely hope that it continues to work a long time before needing repair. Biggrin

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 01-10-2015, 11:20 PM
#7
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I hope so too Richard. My mom had one of those grinders too and I hope the motive power that drove it for her lasts quite a few years longer as well. Biggrin

As I was shaving tonight I was thinking about the post and I was going to add cast iron cookware to it but I see that's already been done. I'd be lost without it. Mine is simple and not expensive and it works great. I lust after Griswold, but I won't pay the price... Frugality... what I have works fine. So far we've had it for 30 some odd years (the wife would kill me if she knew I didn't know how long) and it works better than the day I bought it. I can't tell you how many non-stick pans we've been through in that time.

I will add clear pyrex bread loaf pans to the thread. Nothing works nearly as good for a sandwich loaf.

For reasonably priced knives the Forschner Victorinox (sp?) line is hard to beat. Moderately priced and uniformly excellent quality steel with handles that work even when wet and bloody. One can pay a great deal more and not get 1/2 as good a knife. They are European knives, but of course can be sharpened to a shallower angle to somewhat mimic a Japanese knife. I sharpen my Forschner chefs knife that way but not the others. For a slicing knife I like the Mundial 14" but Chefs Illustrate didn't. Again, moderately priced and works fine, I believe it's Portugese steel and they make fine swords last I heard. Reading the CI review I had to wonder if they were the same knives (mine and theirs). I used to get comments about my brisket slices. The gent asking me couldn't believe it was sliced with a knife; it had to be a motorized "slicer" (deli slicer). He asked me number of times before it sank in that it was a knife that I used. I keep mine as sharp as a razor, maybe that's why CI didn't like it? I dunno. There's no way you'd part my knives from me willingly.

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 01-10-2015, 11:33 PM
#8
  • Chris24
  • Active Member
  • New Zealand
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I'll add a stone mortar and pestle. Sure it's a bit more work but it's not going to break down on me and was cheap to buy.

I have not had much luck with small appliances.

I bought a Kenwood mixer plus attachments a few years ago. My parents had one and it still going strong. Hope the new versions can last as well.

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 01-11-2015, 02:17 AM
#9
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Had my KA mixer for a couple of years now, which gets regular use mixing heavy bread dough. Apart from the odd adjustment needed to the head locking mechanism, it hasn't missed a beat so far.

However, after going through a few flimsy garlic presses, I've now found the perfect garlic crusher in the German made stainless steel WMF Profi Plus Garlic Press. Expensive for what it is but built like a tank (as soon as you pick this baby up you know it's a piece of quality gear), efficient in use and easy to clean. You'll only need to buy it once.

http://www.cookingbite.com/threads/wmf-p...eview.377/

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 01-11-2015, 02:38 AM
#10
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20 years ago i too was on a quest to find the perfect garlic crusher. when i finally found the ultimate i realised i had no need for one and gave it to my mother; i simply used a knife to quickly make the bits and pieces to any size i wanted. eventually my mother did as well and trashed the crusher Biggrin

i usually go the full circle to find the ultimate of anything - from pepper to boats. i usually end up with something very plain and manmade. durability and made for purpose are more important for me than so called low maintenance or high initial cost.

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 01-11-2015, 05:35 AM
#11
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I have had my VM for about 6 years now. Last year it was on the stove and I accidentally turned a burner on and melted the cord. I called VM told them what happened. They had me send it in and replaced the housing cord and gave it a tune up all for free. Great company and I will gladly get another one if this ever goes south on me.

Quote:BBQ:

If one does BBQ, there is no finer way than in ceramic. There are many ceramic kamados out there. I have a Primo and I've never looked back. Again, Cooks Illustrated doesn't like them, and they've even stated that they aren't versatile. That's just false.

If anything were to ever happen to my Primo I'd buy another in a heartbeat.

It does grilling, BBQ, it bakes, fries, it's my stone "wood" fired pizza oven and bread oven. I can't do all of that in my indoor oven. The one thing that the indoor oven has over my Primo is that it's all weather. I don't have a roof over my Primo, so I don't use it in inclement weather. That's not the fault of the Primo though, I just don't have it roofed over; my fault.

If one only grills get something else, but for hard use and versatility, get a ceramic kamado.


My father cooked on an IK for the better part of 40 years before I inherited it. I love my kamado and will always have one space permitting. The only real deficiency for me is indirect cooking. Yes there is a deflector plate, but the food is still directly over the fire. Your Oval XL Primo does a much better job of that than my round 18" KJ. I wanted a large oval primo when I got this one, but I just could not swing the extra expense with the needed accessories. It was a large purchase for me, but I have not regretted it even a single time.

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 01-11-2015, 09:06 AM
#12
  • kav
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  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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Sometimes it's the humble items that ease cooking. I have an old P38 can opener on my keychain and still freak people out
opening huge #10 cans with it. My current knives are US made OLD HICKORY; non ergonomic handles, simple carbon and the money saved not replacing stolen Sabattiers bought a copper Piella pan. Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart. I was dumpster diving in my complex, saw a handle and retrieved a ICEL (Portugal) made Chinese cleaver AND a NIB carbon WOK.I've figured out mastering ethnic foods goes faster if you invest in the corresponding tools.
I'd list more, but I have tea brewing and just polished my vintage, british sterling tealeaf strainer circa 1938. Don't wastemoney on electric can openers and you get to buy sterling tea strainers in case Maggie Smith drops by.

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 01-11-2015, 10:18 AM
#13
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Dale, have you checked out the various online ceramic supply outfits for a place sitter I believe it's called? Folks with Green Eggs have a similar problem I think, and I believe that's the answer that they found. Maybe you already know of this. I just sort of remember something about that being discussed on a forum many years ago.

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 01-11-2015, 10:31 AM
#14
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I love all clad type cookware.
I use my Kitchen Aid Artisan stand mixer for breads and the grinder attachment for meat and the fruit mill attachment for jams.

But my best kitchen gadget is similar to Kav's - a can opener. Specifically a Swing-A-Way wall mounted hand operated can opener. We have had it for 27 years and it has resided in all 3 of our houses. When I move from here I will take it with me.

I have never owned nor operated an electric can opener so I can't do a direct comparison. But this is simple and fast to use. It has a magnetic hanger to hold the lid.
You lift the silver lever and put the can rim between the gears. Close the lever and the blade pierces the can. Then 3 cranks on the handle and the lid is off.

When not in use it folds back against the wall.

[Image: hhw4vR2.jpg]

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 01-11-2015, 10:49 AM
#15
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(01-11-2015, 10:18 AM)ShadowsDad Wrote: Dale, have you checked out the various online ceramic supply outfits for a place sitter I believe it's called? Folks with Green Eggs have a similar problem I think, and I believe that's the answer that they found. Maybe you already know of this. I just sort of remember something about that being discussed on a forum many years ago.
Thanks. Yeah, we chatted about plate sitters and gaskets a while ago if I remember correctly. I do have a couple plate sitters and am able to get good results. IMO It was just a general deficiency of the mid sized round ceramic cookers. Once you get to the larger (or oval) grills, you have more room to work and it is easier to indirect. I normally cook for one so a giant grill is just too much for me. What I really enjoy is being able to use it year round when it would be too difficult to keep a steady temp for a long cook during the winter.

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 01-11-2015, 10:52 AM
#16
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For mixers, we use a Bosch mixer. It's about 16 years old now with no problems. It's not quite as modern looking as the current Bosch Universal Plus, but I believe it still uses the same bowls and attachments. It kneads bread far better than a Kitchenaid IMO.

I also have a kamado-style cooker, but mine is dual-walled steel instead of ceramic. Big Steel Keg. The function is pretty much the same, but obviously it's more durable. The insulating factor of the dual-walled steel also helps it hold heat really well and it uses very little charcoal. I've done a 14-hour smoke and still had plenty of charcoal left at the end.

The only downside is it's steel... in the summer here in Arizona I have a hard time keeping the temperature low enough! One time I was doing a smoke and the temperature was creeping up to 280... hotter than I wanted. I shut it down, closed all the vents and it still stayed that temperature for the next four hours of my cook. The meat was still awesome, but control is hard when it's 110 degrees outside.

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 01-11-2015, 03:01 PM
#17
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(01-11-2015, 10:49 AM)PanChango Wrote:
(01-11-2015, 10:18 AM)ShadowsDad Wrote: Dale, have you checked out the various online ceramic supply outfits for a place sitter I believe it's called? Folks with Green Eggs have a similar problem I think, and I believe that's the answer that they found. Maybe you already know of this. I just sort of remember something about that being discussed on a forum many years ago.
Thanks. Yeah, we chatted about plate sitters and gaskets a while ago if I remember correctly. I do have a couple plate sitters and am able to get good results. IMO It was just a general deficiency of the mid sized round ceramic cookers. Once you get to the larger (or oval) grills, you have more room to work and it is easier to indirect. I normally cook for one so a giant grill is just too much for me. What I really enjoy is being able to use it year round when it would be too difficult to keep a steady temp for a long cook during the winter.

Sorry Dale I've been at information overload for so long... I simply can't keep track.

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 01-11-2015, 03:27 PM
#18
  • freddy
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  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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Believe it or not, a pair of kitchen scissors. I have a cheap pair that I keep in a drawer by the sink and I cannot believe how many times that has come in handy.

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 01-11-2015, 07:04 PM
#19
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I've run the gamut of fancy German, French and Japanese knives and have returned to the simple and easy to care for Victorinox/Forschner line, though my most used remains a stamped offset bread/utility knife from Friedrich Dick. Pots and pans are heavy-duty stuff sourced from restaurant supply houses. I'd like to add a good wok for "fast food" and a blender so I can start making smoothies again.

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 01-11-2015, 07:36 PM
#20
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knives:
i use a cheap norwegian knife from øyo to cut bread, victorinox for family and friends, and hide knife for myself. my 20 years old sabatier knives are used for gardening and cutting rockwool.

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