Sorry its been a bit since my last post – been incredibly busy with work, and getting my Christmas painting orders done….  But I thought I would throw in some advice on equipment.  The right kitchen equipment is absolutely key.  Spend as much as you can afford on the right pots and pans, and most importantly – a couple of good knives.  I would say 80% of the kitchens I have been in have cheap, dull knives – usually thrown in a drawer with a bunch of other utensils…. Ouch!  Buy a good knife or two, and take care of them, and you will be amazed how much easier life in the kitchen is!
Knives – the MOST important implement in the kitchen!!!  If nothing else, get two very high quality knives – a 6 or 8 inch chef, (or a 7 inch santuko), and a 4 inch utility to start – Wustoff, Heinkel, Kershaw are all good names.  Plan on spending about $100 on chef, and $50 on utility – it will be money WELL SPENT!

I understand this is a huge amount of money – but people spend $40 bucks on bottles of liquour, or a dinner out, or, if you add it up, coffee for the month – none of which last – these knives will last for years! Take the hit, and give up Dunkin for a month or two – it’s alot of money, but when the material quality is considered -these are products you will use for the rest of your life!!  What is THAT worth broken down on a cost per month basis?  Pennies?? Fractions of pennies???  They really are quite a good value, relative to some of the other things upon which we waste money every month!  

 Discount retailers like Target etc sell Heinkel and Wustoff– but these are  the lower end lines as far as quality goes, but are still good quality – for $20- $40 per knife…. just ignore any “eversharp” edge ( slightly serrated).  You are better off buying the best quality the discounts places have, or go to a good kitchen store for much higher end – yet not much higher price- merchandise.  As for quality knives –   NEVER put them through the dish washer – detergent and heat are VERY hard on edges.

Other handy ones to have are a 6 inch chef, 8 inch utility/sandwich, 9 inch carving, and a good 7 or 8 inch serrated utility.  I use Kershaw Shun knives, which are absolutely beautiful knives – almost works of art!  The edges of these are so fine, I keep a  couple of Heinkels, which are quite a bit stiffer for the heavy duty cutting and boning, and some Cutco serrated knives – which are great utility knives.
Good knives to have: top – 8″ chef, next: 7″ santuko, 7″ chef, bottom: 4″ utility.
A quick word on cutting boards – do NOT use plastic boards!  They are VERY hard on good knife edges.  There are some wood composite boards that are dish washer safe, so they can be sterilized.  Use a separate board for meats and a separate board for veggies.
Pots/pans – get good quality stainless steel, (make sure it is 18/10) pots and pans – the best you can afford – it will be money well spent. Remember – you get what you pay for! 
NO NON STICK!!!!  Non stick doesn’t stay that way for long.  A tip if you do have it – don’t use sprays like Pam –  they will kill the surface.  Use only butter or olive oil, and use only med to med high heat – too high a temp will also kill surface
You are always better off with straight steel – takes a beating, and heats evenly every time.  18/10 steel layers on both cooking surface side, and inside –  layered with aluminum or copper between- are best.  Viking is the best of the best,(7 layers of steel, aluminum and alloys) All Clad next ( 5 layers) – then name brand chefs like Wolfgang Puck or Emeril.  Le Cruset has recently come out with a great line of cookware that is fairly reasonable for the very high quality.  A good kitchen store will carry the good ones, and be able to answer questions you may have.  I use Viking, and I absolutely love them!  Even my wife, who swore they couldn’t be worth the extra money  (They run $150 to $400 per pot, depending on the size) agrees they are worth every penny – and my grand kids will be cooking on them they are so durable!
Spices – Ignore pre done spice racks – you will be paying for some things you won’t ever use…..The ones I use most are : Basil, oregano, cilantro, dill, thyme, powdered garlic, curry, paprika, cayenne, old bay (in the sea food section of a store)  rosemary….. I also use lemongrass, pre-mixed tai and Cajun spices, a sea salt grinder, and a mixed peppercorn grinder.
Oils – get some good extra virgin olive oil, and some good regular olive oil – sauté with the regular ( has a higher smoke temp) and use extra virgin for dressings, mixing with pasta etc.

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