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Food Preparation Utensils and Equipment

From all-creatures.org
Vegan - Vegetarian Recipe Book
How Mary and Frank and Friends Eat

"We are dedicated to cruelty-free living through a vegetarian - vegan lifestyle."   "Let no animal suffer or die that we may live!"

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Food Preparation Utensils and Equipment

2 (Baking Pan, Glass)  We have two sizes of glass baking pans: the larger is 9 inches X 13 inches, and the smaller is 6 inches X 10 inches.  They stack together for easy storage.  Both sizes of glass baking pans are excellent for baking or roasting in our conventional oven, but the larger one us too long to rotate in our microwave oven and must be turned manually, as necessary.  We use the glass baking pans when a cover is not necessary. They are sold in most department and discount stores.
2 (Baking Pan, Small Ceramic)  We use this 7 inch square ceramic baking pan in both our conventional and microwave ovens.  We use it for baking small cakes and other cooking needs where a cover is not required.  This type of small ceramic baking pan is available in some department stores and all specialty cooking stores.
2 (Baking Pan - Silicone)  This non-stick silicone rubber baking pan is ideal for baking cakes and other light weight recipes.  The manufacturer's literature states that it is safe to use at temperatures up to 450 degrees; however, we never recommend baking anything above a temperature of 400 degrees.  Its flexibility allows for easy removal of cakes or flat breads, but its flexibility can be dangerous when removing heavy hot recipes from the oven, particularly when there is liquid in the pan.  The silicone rubber baking pan can also be used in a microwave oven.  To prevent damage, use only plastic or rubber utensils with silicone ware.
2 (Baking Pan, Stoneware)  This is a photograph of an 11 X 15 inch stoneware baking pan.  It has been dusted with a light layer of corn meal in preparation for baking rolls.  We use this baking pan primarily for baking rolls and deep-dish vegan pizza.  The surface of the stoneware baking pan is porous, and cannot be washed.  It is cleaned by scraping off any adhering material after each use; and since we use no animal products, we are not concerned about bacterial or other contamination.  The stains are from caramelized pizza toppings that have spilled onto the stoneware.
2 (Bowls, Glass Baking, Mixing, and Serving) We use these glass baking bowls mostly when we need to bake something in our conventional or microwave oven that does not require a cover.  The other nice feature of these bowls is that you can mix together the ingredients in these bowls, bake it, and serve it in the same bowl.  The sizes in this set range from one to four quarts.  Another nice benefit of using glass bowls, is that colorful ingredients show through the sides when used for serving at the table.
2 (Bowls, Mixing and Serving)  This is a convenient set of mixing and serving bowls.  The different size bowls fit inside one another for easy storage.  This particular design came with matching soup/small serving bowls, and platters.  We have not seen this particular design in recent years, but similar sets are available in specialty and department stores.
2 (Bowls, Stainless Steel Mixing)  We use this set of stackable stainless steel mixing bowls almost every day.  They are light weight, and almost indestructible.  They are also very easy to clean.  If you're only going to have one type of mixing bowls, we suggest that you purchase a set of these stainless steel bowls.  They are sold in most specialty and department stores, and occasionally we've seen them in some discount stores.
2 2 (Bread Maker)  We fondly refer to "The Bread Machine" as "R2D2" because it resembles that robot character.  We have found that bread machines that are programmed with two risings are not the best for baking 100% whole grain bread, as the whole grain bread does not rise properly the second time.  Thus, we use this machine primarily for mixing the dough.   (Bread Maker - Inside Photo-right)  This is an inside view of the bread maker.  The inner container serves as both a mixing bowl and as the baking pan.  The mixer is on the bottom of the inner container (shown pointing in the 4:00 position).  The post sticking into the inner container in the 8:00 position helps mix and turn the dough.
2 (Bread Pan - Silicone)  This non-stick silicone rubber bread pan is ideal for baking breads and cakes.  The manufacturer's literature states that it is safe to use at temperatures up to 450 degrees; however, we never recommend baking anything above a temperature of 400 degrees.  Its flexibility allows for easy removal of cakes or breads.  The silicone rubber bread pan can also be used in a microwave oven.  To prevent damage, use only plastic or rubber utensils with silicone ware.
2 (Bread Pan - Stoneware)  We believe that stoneware aids in the uniform baking process of breads.  The only disadvantage of a stoneware bread pan is that bread can occasionally stick, as it does in metal pans; but stoneware cannot be oiled to prevent sticking.  To keep bread from sticking, we use either a coating on the bread dough, or dust the stoneware with cornmeal, as can be seen in this photo.  We do not wash stoneware, but scrape off any stuck on ingredients.  When removing the bread pan from the oven we let it cool slightly on a wire rack before removing the bread from the pan.
Brush, Vegetable(Brush, Vegetable) A vegetable brush is a very handy tool to have around the kitchen. It can help scrub the dirt off of root vegetables, and also double as a washing aid for cleaning up utensils. They are inexpensive, too; this one cost only $1.00, and will last us for more than a year.
2 (Colander)  We have had this sturdy plastic colander in our kitchen for many years, and have used it almost every day to wash and drain our salad vegetables.  It also makes an excellent strainer for freshly cooked pasta as the hot boiling water does not soften the plastic.  We also use this colander to wash and rinse dried and soaked beans.
2 2 (Crock-Pot, 6-1/2 Quart)  We purchased this 6-1/2 quart Crock-Pot slow cooker because our smaller one made more than enough food for one meal, but not enough for 2 meals.  The best feature of the slow cooker is that we can let it cook all night, which is great for bean soups, and we can continue to cook when we're out during the day.  When we're not in attendance, we set the Crock-Pot control to "low," as shown in this photo, so that the contents do not stick to the sides and over-cook.  When we are around to mix the contents every hour, the "high" setting is best.  Always cook with the lid on the pot.  Another good feature of the Crock-Pot is that the inner pot is removable for easy cleaning. (see the photo of the inner pot)
Glass Cutting Board (Cutting Board, Glass) We purchased our 16 X 20 inch tempered glass cutting board many years ago, and it has been on our counter getting daily use every since. The nicest thing about these glass cutting boards in that they don't harbor any bacteria in knife cuts as do wood and composition cutting boards, and they are easy to wash or wipe clean. And, because the cutting board is made of tempered glass, it also doubles as a hot plate, since it rests on four rubber corner pads that provide an insulating air space below. There are several manufacturers of tempered glass cutting boards, and they come in various sizes and sell for as low as $10.00 in the smaller sizes.
2 (Dish, Ceramic Baking)  This is a photo of a large microwavable ceramic baking dish that is ideal for preparing main dishes in either a microwave or conventional oven.  We also have several smaller sizes for side dishes and leftovers.
Glass Cutting Board (Dish, Glass Baking)  This is a photo of a covered glass baking dish that is heat-treated to be used in either a conventional oven or in a microwave oven.  It is about 1/2 the size of the large ceramic baking dish presented in this section.  We use it for making smaller meals and for cooking fresh or frozen vegetables.
2 (Dish, Small Ceramic Baking)  This small covered ceramic baking dish is good for cooking or baking a small meal for two people in either a conventional oven or in a microwave oven.  It is also good for cooking up to about 1-1/2 pounds of frozen or fresh vegetables.  This baking dish can usually be purchased singly or in sets with several other small baking dishes and covers.
2 (Food Processor)  This is one of the least expensive (less than $20.00) of our kitchen appliances.  It is easily cleaned and ideal for shredding vegetables for soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and salads.  This photo shows the upper shredding blade.  The food processor also has an inner cutting (chopping) blade (not shown here) which is ideal for making preparations like salsa.
2 (Garlic Press)  There is nothing like the flavor of freshly crushed garlic!  We have found that this garlic press is extremely easy to use and clean.  The small plastic "part" is used to clean the holes in the bottom of the garlic press.  To see additional photos and a description on how to use a garlic press, click on the photo or link.
2 (Juicer, Citrus) This is an inexpensive plastic hand citrus juicer, which will juice any citrus fruit from as small as a lime to as large as a grapefruit. The fruit should be thoroughly washed and cut in half so that the stem end of the fruit is in the center of one of the cut halves, which will cut each section through the center. Then each half is hand pressed down firmly over the ridged cone in the center and twisted back and forth, which will release the juice, seeds, and some of the pulp. The juice may be poured off separately, or the seeds can be removed to allow the pulp to also be added to the juice.
2 (Juicer, Lemon Lime) This cast metal hand lemon lime juicer is generally considered to be a bar tool, but it is also great around the kitchen when juice free pulp and seeds is desired. The fruit should be thoroughly washed and cut in half so that the stem end of the fruit is in the center of one of the cut halves, which will cut each section through the center. The half lemon or lime is then placed cut side down between the jaws of the juicer, and the handled are them squeezed over where you want the clear juice to flow. We usually open the jaws and reverse the fruit and squeeze again to remove any remaining juice.
2 (Knives, Inexpensive Utility)  Really good knives can cost a lot of money, and are not really necessary for the average person to use when cooking for one's self or family.  There are plenty of good knives sold in discount department and specialty stores that will adequately serve the needs of most people, though we must caution not to buy the really cheap ones that don't hold an edge or that have blades that are too flexible. We suggest buying a bread knife, a curved grapefruit/utility knife, and several general purpose knives.  There are also some really nice reasonably priced knives that are sold in sets for a variety of uses.
2 (Masher, Potato)  This is a relatively simple and inexpensive potato masher that we purchased in a local discount store.  In addition to mashing potatoes, the potato masher is good for mashing cooked beans and other soft foods.
2 (Masher, Smood)  We are always on the lookout for something to help make our cooking easier and more interesting.  In the spring of 2008, Alexander Gransbury of Dreamfarm in Australia introduced us to their Smood, and it immediately sparked our interest, and he graciously sent us a sample to try.  This is by far the best hand held masher we have ever tried.  The rubber hand grip makes the Smood very comfortable to hold tightly and the spring action of the masher end compressed the potatoes or other ingredients up through the coils into a smooth mash.  To find out where you can buy one, go to www.dreamfarm.com.au
2 (Measuring Cup, Liquid)   We prefer heat treated glass liquid measuring cups so that we can heat the contents in our microwave oven, when necessary.  This particular cup is calibrated in both the English and metric systems of liquid measurement.
2 (Measuring Cups, Dry)  We find this set of stackable dry measuring cups very useful.  There are 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 1 cup sizes in the set to meet any measuring need.
2 (Measuring Spoons)  This inexpensive set of seven measuring spoons is very handy in preparing many recipes.  Spoon sizes range from 1/8 teaspoon to 1-1/2 tablespoons.
2 (Mixer) An electric mixer is a handy tool to have in the kitchen, but we must admit that we use ours mostly for mixing dough. This particular mixer has two sets of mixing blades: one for regular mixing and beating, and the other for mixing and kneading dough. Prices generally start around $100.00 US, as is this model, and can go over $300.00 for heavy duty models.
2 (Muffin Pan - Silicone)  This non-stick silicone rubber muffin pan is ideal for baking muffins and cup cakes without paper cup liners.  The manufacturer's literature states that it is safe to use at temperatures up to 450 degrees; however, we never recommend baking any muffins or cup cakes above a temperature of 350 degrees.  Its flexibility allows for easy removal of the muffins or cup cakes.  The silicone rubber muffin pan can also be used in a microwave oven.  To prevent damage, use only plastic or rubber utensils with silicone ware.
2 (Muffin Rings)  Muffin rings are used to make English muffins and crumpets.  They are each 3-1/2 inches in diameter X 7/8 inch high.  We purchased our twelve muffin rings from a specialty cooking supply store.  They can also be purchased on the internet.  These muffin rings came in a set of 4 and cost about $1.00 (US) per ring.
2 (Pasta Pot)  We purchased a pasta maker several years ago, and this double boiler pasta pot (shown here without the lid) was a bonus gift that came with it.  When cooking pasta in a conventional pot on the stove top, we often found that the pasta would stick to the bottom of the pot.  Then we would pour the boiling water and cooked pasta into a colander to drain off the water.  With the pasta pot, the pasta never sticks to the bottom of the pot, and when it's cooked, all that is necessary is to lift out the inner pot and the water drains out.  Do not cook the pasta with the lid on the pot or the water will boil out between the inner and outer pot.  When cooking spaghetti in the pasta pot, be sure to stir the pasta when it begins to soften, in order to make sure that none is sticking through the holes of the inner pot.
2 (Vegetable Peelers)  We have two vegetable peelers, which we use regularly: the one on the top is an expensive one that is great for peeling any hard to peel vegetables such as sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and the one on the bottom that is very inexpensive, and is great for peeling easy to peel vegetables such as carrots and white potatoes.  If we use the expensive peeler on carrots and white potatoes, the peeler will remove too much of the vegetable with the peel, so we mostly use the inexpensive one.  The cost of a product is not necessarily an indication of the product's performance, as is the case with these peelers.
2 (Pie Pan - Silicone)  Since only plastic or rubber utensils can be used with silicone ware, which would require a pie to be removed from the pan before cutting, we see no advantage in using this non-stick silicone rubber pie pan for baking pies.  However, the silicone rubber pie pan could be used for making pan-pizzas, flat breads, and upside down cakes.  The manufacturer's literature states that it is safe to use at temperatures up to 450 degrees; however, we never recommend baking anything above a temperature of 400 degrees.  Its flexibility allows for easy removal of cakes or breads.  The silicone rubber pie pan can also be used in a microwave oven.
2 (Pizza Stone)  This is a photo of our well-used pizza stone, which helps make really great pizzas and flat breads. The metal support rack makes for easy handling in and out of the oven, though we do have to use double potholders or oven mitts to hold the hot metal handles.  Stoneware should not be washed.  To clean, scrape off any stuck on ingredients.
2 (Popcorn Popper, Dry Microwaveable)  This is a photo of our dry popcorn popper sitting in our microwave oven.  At 1,000 watts,  we make a full container of dry popped popcorn in 3 minutes.  It's great for making a quick snack.  See the Snacks section for some tasty recipes.  This one was manufactured by Rubbermaid.
2 (Pot, Glass)  When cooking on the stove top, we prefer using glass cookware such as this Visions cookware by Corning.  The only exception to this is when we need a large capacity pot for making soups.  We have several sizes of these covered glass cooking pots.  The larger one, pictured here, is great for cooking beans and rice.  It is important to remember that it is best to bring the liquid to a boil, and then lower the heat to "simmer" or "low" to prevent sticking.  Unfortunately, Corning ceased making this pot in 2001.  If you're interested in seeing if they have any left in stock in their stores, try calling 1-888-246-2737.
2 (Pot, Large Stainless Steel)  We have two large stainless steel pots in our kitchen, which we primarily use for cooking various kinds vegetable soups on the stovetop (thick soups are best cooked in a slow cooker).  The larger of the pots is slightly over 3-1/2 gallons, and the other is slightly smaller.  We purchased them is a discount department store many years ago, and they are still as good as new.  We like to cook a large pot of soup and save the remainder for the following day or two, and we usually store the left over soup in the covered pot in our refrigerator after the soup has cooled to room temperature.
Scoop(Scoop) A scoop can make uniform and decorative half-sphere servings of sticky foods such as mashed potatoes, rice, and vegan ice cream. They are also handy for making uniform sized veggie patties. Once the scoop is filled with the food from the pot or container, it can be inverted over where you want the serving, and by squeezing the side handle, the internal swing arm releases the serving exactly where you want it.
2 (Spatula, Rubber)  This is a heavy duty rubber spatula.  It is excellent for scraping ingredients from the surface of mixing containers and for some lighter duty mixing jobs.

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(Spatulas, Soft) Pictured here are three types of soft food preparation spatulas: the top one is a spoon shaped spatula, which is good for scooping ingredients; the middle spatula, is good for scraping the sides of bowls with stiff ingredients such bread and cookie dough; and the bottom spatula, is very soft and flexible and can be used for scraping out the container of a food processor, where the ingredients are chopped or shredded vegetables. We do not recommend the use of these kinds of spatulas for any cooking operation or for handling hot cooked food, as there could be some leaching of the chemicals into the food. Their cost ranges from a few dollars each to less than a dollar each.
2 (Spoons, Large Cooking)  We prefer using these large plastic cooking spoons because of their one piece construction.  Metal spoons with wood or plastic handles have a tendency to get food caught in the joint between the metal and handles; this cannot happen with these one piece molded spoons.  The black spoon is for heavy duty cooking and mixing of stiff ingredients.  The lighter duty cream colored spoon (stained from cooking curries) is good for rice and other soft and loose preparations.
2 (Sprayer, Pump)  We purchased this pump sprayer to spray on light coatings of extra virgin olive oil, and other liquid seasonings, such as soy sauce.  By pumping the lid up and down, the bottle becomes pressurized.  The lid is removed, and by pressing on the spray tip, a fine spray can be aimed at the desired recipe.  The excess oil or other seasoning can be stored in the spray bottle.  The only drawback with spraying and storing oil in the bottle, is that the spray nozzle has a tendency to become clogged if the sprayer is not used often.  At the first sign of clogging, the spray bottle should be thoroughly cleaned and hot soapy water run through the sprayer until a fine spray is produced.  It then can be thoroughly rinsed, dried, and put back into use.
2 (Vita-Mix)  This Super 5000 Vita-Mix is our most used portable kitchen appliance.  It is a rare day when we don't use it at least once.  It has a "dry" and a "regular" container, and a heavy duty 2-hp motor.  The container on the mixer is the dry container with the designation label above the handle (photo-left).  We use our Vita-Mix in the preparation of many of the recipes we have published on this web site.  Even though it's relatively expensive, we have found it well worth the investment.  We have had our Vita-Mix for nearly 10 years and it's still running great!  Their guarantee and service is also the best we've experienced in the industry. To enlarge the photo and see ordering information (with free shipping), click on the photo or link.
2 (Wok)  This is an electric wok.  Traditional woks are made of metal and are designed for cooking over a gas flame.  Since we do not have gas where we live, we have become accustomed to cooking in our electric model.  Woks are excellent for preparing stir-fry dishes.  We rarely stir-fry in oil, and prefer "frying" or steaming in a little water, which works quite well with rapid mixing.  We also believe that stir-frying in water is more healthful.  (☺The only potentially unhealthful thing is the look on the local Asian chef's face when he hears Mary and me speak of "taking a walk."☺)
2 (Wok, Stainless Steel)  This is a stainless steel electric wok which we purchased after the Teflon coating on our other wok began to deteriorate. The highly polished cooking surface of this wok is also non-stick, as long as we stir continually.  We have found that using two spoons, one in each hand, works best to scoop the cooking food off the heated bottom and lift it over the food on top.  This helps ensure uniformly cooked veggies.  Traditional woks are made of metal and are designed for cooking over a gas flame.  Since we do not have gas where we live, we have become accustomed to cooking with our electric model.  Woks are excellent for preparing stir-fry and other dishes.  We rarely stir-fry in oil, and prefer "frying" or steaming in a little water, which works quite well with rapid mixing.  We also believe that stir-frying in water is more healthful.