Equipping a Kitchen from Scratch
I should start by saying that I am not one of those people who can make anything with just a frying pan, a wooden spoon, and a spatula. In fact, I am Williams-Sonoma’s dream customer—if they tell me I need a specialty pan to make something, I buy it. (And let me tell you that you can live without an asparagus pot.) But I decided to be frugal in starting my California kitchen, and just buy the essentials.
The first meal I cooked, within 24 hours of walking into the house for the first time (Bob bought the house without me—long story), was Thanksgiving dinner. Since, due to popular demand, the Thanksgiving menu never changes at my house, this was not as daunting a task as it might have been. And it gave me my starting point: a large roasting pan with a rack. Ideally, you would have both a large and a small roasting pan, but if you can have only one, go with the large. Next, a small (1.5 quart) and a medium (3 quart) saucepan; 8- and 10-inch frying pans, both regular and nonstick; a Dutch oven (5.5 quart is a good size); a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan; and a large multi-pot, which you can use as a stockpot, a pasta pot, or a steamer. Add two jellyroll pans, and even I could make almost anything.
My last point is that you should buy the best cookware that you can afford—good pots and pans will last you a lifetime. My cookware of choice is a subject for another day.