Foothill Gourmet: Basic tools

By From page B2 | June 10, 2013

A great question friends and readers ask me is what equipment items should I purchase for the kitchen.

The essential equipment for a cooking kitchen are the following items; quality knives, stainless or cast-iron pans, a food processor and a stand mixer. These are the basic tools that I would be hard-pressed to live without in my kitchen. Soon, I’ll detail the importance of knives.

Today’s column features the benefits of a food processor. The lucky stars were shinning on me the day I purchased my first Cuisinart food processor. I don’t usually buy expensive brands, but somehow before I was professionally trained, I decided to purchase a Cusinart.

After doing research into the available processor brands, I felt that even though the Cuisinart was more expensive, it would be the best purchase. It was well-known as an excellent performer in the kitchen. My first Cuisinart lasted for 22 years. How’s that for performance.

It was exactly what I needed. The Cusinart, literally, became my personal cooking assistant and second-hand in the kitchen, slicing and dicing foods. I can’t begin to enumerate the number of stir-fry dishes I was able to prepare quickly and single-handedly with the aid of my Cusinart. I hate counter clutter, but my Cuisinart resides on my counter for daily use.

I use my Cuisinart food processor five-to-six days a week. I would definitely have trouble living without it. My recommendation, if you happen to own or buy a food processor, find a place on your counter for it so that it is easily accessible. If it is on the counter, you will use it. Once the processor is stored away and kept out of sight, then it is relegated to the lost and forgotten spaces and will be used only rarely.

There are many food processors on the market. I’m sure that they each have their advantages. Besides Cuisinart, I have used only two other processors. I used my mother-in-laws, Hamilton Beach, which, performed adequately for simple needs, when I was visiting her on holidays.

I also have used my sister’s processor, an Oster Work Center. Oster was close to impossible. The problem is that the Oster is advertised as a work center and engineered to do so many tasks, that it failed in the food processing task. One gigantic problem it has is an extremely small work bowl which allows for only small amounts of food at a time. The processor is so cumbersome that my sister stores it away and virtually never uses it. How’s that for an investment?

I am a dyed in the wool Cusinart fan because I’ve used one since 1987. I’m not a customer representative, but I’m telling what works for me. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the Cuisinart would give me years of excellent service. Twenty-two years later,when my first Cusinart started to die, it was time to purchase another processor. We would only consider and purchase a Cuisinart. The newer model has of course the same larger bowl features and I can still use my slicing discs.

If Cuisinart is out of your price range, features you should look for in a food processor follow. Look for a large bowl that will accommodate generous amounts — 4 to 6 cups — of food.

Also look for cutting disks, that are easily interchangeable, allowing the food processor to be versatile. Food processors are traditionally known for slicing and dicing. That is primarily how I use mine.

Donna Brown

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