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WHAT YOUTH EATS: TOOLS OF THE TRADE 10 Inexpensive and Essential Kitchen Tools to get you Cooking

What Youth Eats, Tools
Photo: Paul Brewer

Have we gotten ahead of ourselves? We’re here telling you how to sear scallops and make cioppino, but what if you don’t have a pot to cook in? How can you prep, sear, steam and eat without a couple of basic kitchen tools? While the internet is full of “must-buy” lists for the kitchen, most of them are doomed —  more like paid advertisements for expensive gadgets than things you genuinely need. And I hate gadgets. I like heavy tools. Lasting tools. Single function tools are a non-starter… every tool in your kitchen should be able to be used in more than one way. A corn-cob stripper: skip it. An apple corer: save it for Mothers Day. A 3-in-1 egg slicer: fuck that. This list — I kept it to 10 things — is full of basics you’ll have for a long time, and gets you cooking on the cheap. I should know, when my girl and I decided to live in a tent and cook over a BBQ for two years, these are the things we packed. —Paul Brewer

  1. A couple knives: A great chefs knife and paring knife will do the trick, at least until you become a black belt ninja in the kitchen and want some more blades. It’s an $80 investment, but keep them sharp and they’ll make all the difference. I got a couple of the Global knives for a college graduation gift, I use them daily, and I’m pretty sure I will not part with them until I reach the convalescent home and they take ‘em away.
  2. Mortar and pestle: Use your aggression and pound garlic, herbs, and peppers into a fine paste, sans electricity. Start with a molecajete mortar ($22) for guacamole, thai sauces, salad dressings, and more. They also double as utilitarian serving bowls, and look proper on your counter when not in use.
  3. Tongs ($3): Don’t buy the expensive ones! Use them to stir, flip, grab, split, poke, lift and serve. Get long ones unless you like hand burns.
  4. A cast iron skillet: They are inexpensive ($18), tough, and if you take care of them, they’ll last forever. They’re naturally non-stick, so you can skip the tumorous non-stick coated skillets.
  5. Large dutch oven: You can boil water in it to make pasta, or make carnitas for you and your lucky friends. Or bring it camping and put it over a wood fire. It’s also inexpensive, heavy, and tough. Le Creuset is very nice, but my matching cast iron one for $35 has worked beautifully.
  6. Spatula: Rather, a turner or flipper. Since you’ve already gone cast iron, you can skip the plastic or silicone models and get some durable metal pieces. Use to flip burgers, omelets, etc. Here’s some for just over $3.
  7. Pepper mill and Kosher Salt: pre-ground pepper is a tasteless sin, so get a simple hand-powered pepper mill ($11) and season like the pros. Salt you don’t need a mill for… just keep it in a little bowl you can pinch out of.
  8. Scissors: AKA kitchen shears ($11). From cutting open packaging to cracking crustacean shells and quick cutting herbs, you’ll use these lots.
  9. Blender: A standard blender is great, a Vitamix is baller, but I have a NutriBullet ($80). With it I can make my Laird Superfood smothies in the morning (kidding), easy purees, chopped nuts, sauces, and salad dressings. Also, blended cocktails for when I’m feeling zesty.
  10. Zester/grater: Skip the old style box cheese grater, this Microplane ($12) fits better in the drawer and will take care of you.

By having this stuff, you should be able to shred pretty hard in the kitchen, making everything from scrambled eggs to big racks of lamb, seared fish, or slow cooked pasta sauces. Sure, as you clock some kitchen hours, you might find you need a couple more tools in your arsenal, so invest as you see fit. But please, no gadgets. Be industrious, be creative, and use your tools well.

Radical Class, What Youth Drinks, Paul Brewer

WHAT YOUTH DRINKS: COCCI AMERICANO An Easy, Inexpensive way to Live that Riviera High Life

I snagged a bottle of this Cocci Americano stuff after seeing it on the shelf at a cocktail bar in Long Beach, CA. It was an impromptu buy — I didn’t know what it was or what to do with it, but thought I’d figure it out. Experiment! Cocktail jazz improvisation! While I’ll save the…

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Radical Class: Hope from the Road Just when you thought it was all over: there is Berlin  

Turns out there is still hope out there. Out there, beyond your day-to-day, somewhere out on the road its not all politics, hurricanes, bad vibes and bad memes. In fact, the other day I found myself way outside the bad lands somewhere in Berlin. Just off the plane I walked around the Mitte District. I meandered…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: AGUACHILE Another Raw One: Sinaloa Spicy Shrimp

If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve gone raw at WhatYouth.com for the last few weeks. We’ve played with raw tuna a couple different ways (here and here), and got fancy and fresh with a raw beef tartare last week. It’s been fun, delicious, and the whole experiment has opened up our late…

what youth eats, raw, radical class, paul brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW BEEF The latest in our Raw Series: Steak tartare is the primest of the prime.

For the last few weeks we’ve gone raw. We’re doing it all for the flavor — an exercise to experience great ingredients at their root essence, with a secondary win of less time cooking and more time having summertime fun outside (making raw things takes less time, duh). So far we’ve focused on fish and…

Tuna Don, Adam Warren, What Youth Eats

WY EATS: Spicy Tuna Don Another hit from our RAW series — best washed down with ice cold Kirin

Its time to expand on our RAW capabilities here. And just like the Mediterranean version of the albacore crudo that you’ve already mastered, we are leaning on our Japanese influence of raw efficiencies for our next dish: The Spicy Tuna Don. “Don” is short for “donburi” which is a traditional Japanese dish where any number…

what youth guide to the bar

WY Guide: The Bartender Getting a drink in a crowded bar is an art. Here’s your paint set.

As Shane Dorian famously said in Loose Change: “What’s your poison man?” That ageless, sometimes slightly altered greeting has been heard by bar patrons since the first bar opened circa 900 AD. And after 1100 years of human interaction at these establishments one would hope there would be some orderly and respectful manner one might…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW The first in a Series: Albacore Crudo

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going raw. This isn’t some nonsense trendy food fad out of Beverly Hills: this is all about efficiency and simplicity. Efficiency because eating raw means less time in the kitchen and more time outside shredding through summer. Simplicity because I won’t have to develop complex sauces and spend…

what youth dead writers shirt

The WY Dead Writers T-Shirt Before it’s gone here’s why it exists

We still read…actual books even. And while a lot of our favorite writers are long gone, their influence is still smothering us. They’ve left us with piles and piles of great reading, insight, fucked up situations, and maniacal living to read about. This shirt is an ode to them. Here’s a run through who they…

what youth drinks tequila

What Youth Drinks: The Paloma Cuz it’s just so damn hot outside

It’s officially summer now. And since we’ve already taught you how to order a margarita the right way here, now it’s time to learn how to make the G of all tequila cocktails best drank in the sun: The Paloma. If the margarita is the popular girl in high school that everyone knows, then the Paloma…

Radical Class, What Youth Eats

What Youth Eats: Huevos Rancheros Your weekend mornings are now better

Huevos Rancheros hold a special place down deep in my gut. Growing up, when dad wasn’t at work on weekend mornings, we’d wake up early to surf the Cliffs, then he’d take me to Georges Mexican Food right by our house in Huntington Beach for breakfast. Every time the order was the same: two orders…

What Youth, Radical Class, Paul Brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: WITHOUT RECIPES Try this, then go rip into it

Learning to cook and make cocktails is a funny process. We read cookbooks, we watch TV shows, maybe we try a recipe or two from whatyouth.com. For the most part, we get set up with a list of instructions, and we’re expected to follow it closely or else it will be ruined. That’s a process that’s…

what youth eats our veggies

WHAT YOUTH EATS: OUR VEGGIES Skip the Meat with Grilled Mushroom Risotto

You’re eating your veggies, right? For those of you who just need meat with your meals, may I offer mushrooms instead. Here, the mushrooms are grilled to give a deeper, nuttier flavor, and combined with creamy rich risotto. Once you get the hang of risotto, it can be a quick dinner. Until you get the hang of…

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