Plastic wrap, such as Saran Wrap, is a headache. It gets stuck to itself, it won't cling to whatever you want it to, and you wonder: Why the hell even bother?
Anchor Purity is the industrial solution (what the pros use), and for a mere $13 you can get 1,000 feet, which, unless your cooking is aggressively wrap-heavy, should last you forever. Easier to use, faster to use, no mess, and it just works.
And if you are going through more than 1,000 feet per year, you should know that you don't need to wrap your entire kitchen in Saran Wrap every time you cook. Whoever told you that was screwing with you.
$6 to $9
This guy is perfect for picking up chopped bits of anything on a cutting board. When doing a bunch of cooking, stick this in your back pocket like a switchblade comb, The Outsiders style, ready for action. If you have a hardware store nearby, any flexible scraper for home improvement will work. Just make sure it's at least 4 inches wide at the blade.
Not that I've tried, but this thing is also really easy to toss at your friends like a throwing star. You could be part Bob Vila, part Thomas Keller, part Beverly Hills Ninja ...
Your friends will fear your wrath as much as they love your pancakes.
Francis Mallmann, the most famous chef in South America, has classical French training, which involves using high-end copper pots and pans. Regardless, he still prefers cast iron, because nothing transfers heat more uniformly. It's beautifully primitive.
The best combination model for value is the Lodge LCC3. If you'd like to cook tomatoes, baked beans or other acidic foods in "raw," or unenameled, cast iron (which is what I use most often), you'll need to first season the skillet. "Seasoning" helps the iron absorb a protective coat of oil so that acids don't react with the surface and cause a metallic taste or black coloring.
It also ensures the cast iron skillet's title of "deadliest non-bladed non-spork culinary instrument."
Since we're not going to take our time over six to 12 meals to season our tool, here's how to do it in an evening:
-Coat the pans in oil (flaxseed is ideal; look for it in health food stores among refrigerated nutritional supplements) by spreading it all over the inside surface with a folded paper towel.
-Bake the skillet and Dutch oven upside down in your oven, on the top rack, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, then turn off the heat, open the door and allow the pans to cool for 30 minutes.
-Rinse with warm water (no soap), towel dry immediately and repeat five more times.
-Use all of the time I just saved you to learn piano, or dancing, or cooking, or karate, or fucking all of them.
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
The Epicurean press does a better job of pressing garlic when you keep the skin on! Read that sentence again -- it's a big deal!
No more peeling, no more cutting, no more pain-in-the-ass cleanup of a poorly designed press. This press is the one press to rule them all. Yes, it's expensive ... and totally worth it. That is, if you like garlic. If you don't ... well, then stop reading this, because I don't want to live in a world where people like you are allowed to walk freely among the rest of us.
Fissler Magic Smooth-Edge Can Opener
The Fissler Store
In the can-opening world, the equivalent of the Epicurean press is the Fissler Magic Smooth-Edge Can Opener. It cuts around the side of the can, leaving no sharp edges and a lid that can be put back on. As one chef asked upon seeing it, "Why did it take 100+ years for someone to think of that?"
Better late than never. Cooking needn't be complicated or expensive. Get cheap, get dirty and get inventive. That's the Kitchen Jedi path -- minimalist and brutally effective. Enjoy.