A-Z Survival Guide to Life
K – Kitchens
This is the eleventh installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.
Kitchens are considered the heart of the home. Without a decently functioning kitchen, life is just so much more difficult. In this installment we will discuss what it takes to stock a kitchen when you move into your first apartment or house. This is not an inexpensive endeavor even in the most basic of kitchens.
Of course, you might say to yourself, well, I will just eat out then. And that might seem like a really brilliant idea and enable you to avoid all of this setting up the kitchen stuff. But when you are eating out on your own dime, it can get quite pricey, and sometimes you might not want to go anywhere to get food. If you haven’t properly set up your kitchen, you will find it quite frustrating to try and prepare even the simplest of meals.
The Kitchen as it stands – When looking for your first home – there are two very important places you need to inspect carefully – the bathrooms and the kitchen. Both involve your gastrointestinal system, and if either are not functioning correctly, then your gastrointestinal will suffer in one way or another. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on what to look for in a kitchen.
A stove would be a good start – Inspect the stove carefully, open and close the oven door, turn the burners on, ensure the coils heat evenly, or if it is a gas stove, make sure it doesn’t explode. The stove should be clean. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t a 6-burner stove, or a fancy stove like a Viking or a Wolf stove, but it does have to actually work and not mortally injure you.
A Refrigerator is a must – Make sure that a refrigerator will be in the kitchen. You may wonder why there wouldn’t be a fridge. Many rentals do not supply a refrigerator and you have to purchase one of your own. Even the most inexpensive refrigerators are not cheap, so try to avoid having to purchase one initially. If there is a refrigerator in the house/apartment – open and close the door, make sure the inside doesn’t smell like dead bodies and it is completely spotless. It may be a simple refrigerator without a water and ice machine dispenser on the outside of the freezer door. I know, this is a horrifying thought – but, we all have to make sacrifices when first starting out. Hopefully, the freezer will have an ice machine inside it, which will require you to open the freezer door when getting ice. This may seem like a HUGE inconvenience, but it beats filling ice trays (and sloshing water everywhere in the process).
A Sink – A sink in a kitchen is important. Make sure it is clean, the tap works well, and the hot and the cold water come forth from the tap appropriately. Check in the cabinet under the sink to make sure the sink doesn’t leak. Make sure there is a garbage disposal, they are really handy. It is a total pain not having a garbage disposal but it is doable. Knowing you two, I would encourage you to have a garbage disposal, because if you don’t it will entail more work on your part.
Dishwasher – you might want to make sure there is a dishwasher, I can’t imagine either of you doing the dishes. Of course, if you did wash your own dishes, then you could look at the clock and say “Ooo look what time it is, it’s 6:00 and not a dish washed.” Of course, that might be amusing like one or two times and then it would get old and you would wish for a dishwasher.
Cabinets are nice – But you can make open shelves work well, if you keep things tidy. Counter space around the stove and the sink are nice to have, but granite and quartz and all that other stuff they make counters with are just fluff. The counters should definitely be made out of non-porous material and easy to clean.
Dishes – When purchasing plates and bowls, ideally you want at least 8 of each. You don’t need salad plates, or bread plates for now, unless you are planning for formal settings at the table. If you don’t have any friends, and you aren’t planning on inviting anyone over to share a meal, save yourself some money and get one or two plates and bowls (get two of each, because having one bowl and one plate is kind of depressing).
Silverware or Cutlery – See above. You really could just do with knives, forks and tablespoons. Maybe at some point you will want full place settings which include fish forks and knives, dessert forks, butter knives and all kinds of stuff. But this is only if you are planning to invite dignitaries over. As this is not likely to happen anytime soon, save your money. Or there is something called sporks, but all I think of is those annoying things you get at Kentucky Fried Chicken and they are pretty useless for anything.
Pots and Pans – To cook on the stove, you will need these. I would get two decent fry pans, a 10 inch and an 8 inch and several different sized sauce pans. Get non-stick pans and use plastic or wood utensils, unless you want to eat chips of Teflon down the road. I remember something from Organic Chemistry years ago about Teflon being a byproduct of Agent Orange, or was it the other way around? Either way – don’t eat Teflon.
Mixing bowls, measuring cups, utensils – You will need these eventually. As you know, decent utensils make all the difference in the world. Remember those beautiful spatulas we gave you for Christmas? Cherish them.
Condiments, spices and ingredients – Honestly, I wouldn’t try buying all of these things at once. Ultimately you will end up with all kinds of strange things in your pantry that you never, ever use. Every house has at least one can of some really strange food item that seemed like a great idea at the time it was purchased, but never gets used. These are usually donated to food drives. Save your money and buy the ingredients as you need them, or if a recipe calls for it.
Cookbooks – If you decide at some point you want to eat more than rice and meat with lemon-pepper on it, or barbecue sauce, you may want to invest in a cookbook. I would go to the bookstore and buy a cookbook that uses ingredients you have heard of and which you can pronounce. That is a good starting point.
The fancy stuff – Eventually you may want to try your hand at recipes, or cut stuff up. You will need a good set of knives and maybe a mixer, or a blender. Don’t invest in these until you are really sure you want to get creative in the kitchen.
Enough said, for now. This will get you started.
Photo credit – american history.si.edu