I cook a lot (for a family of 5) and my minimum/essential kitchen items for us are:
- 2 knives (I use Global but I like Victorinox too) + Henckels sharpener
- Cast iron skillet
- Small non-stick pan (my wife prefers little/no oils)
- 2 Pots
- 1 steamer basket
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 pizza stone (or some unglazed tiles from Home Depot)
- KitchenAid stand mixer
- Vitamix 5200 blender
- 1 large Rubbermaid tub/lid for rising bread dough
- 1 slow cooker / crock pot (you can get em for as little as $20)
As for books, I've collected a few here and there but the ones I refer to the most are The Professional Chef (referenced in article), The Magnolia Bakery cookbooks, and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (amazing bread a pizza dough for busy people).
Platform is: Bootstrap, Django, Pinax. Hosting it on webfaction.
And if there are any bakers out there or you are interested, I highly recommend this book by authors here in Minneapolis:
They have a no-knead bread method that is appeals to the hacker mindset; heavily optimized and efficient.
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