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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.

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Radical Class: Wintering in Cologne Eat, drink and be blown away by the countries that like it cold. (Pt. 2 of 3)

You’ll remember we started this frozen journey through Europe in Berlin. Today, we’re taking a ride to Cologne. A quick hour flight from Berlin will take you to Cologne, in northwest Germany. A couple days in Cologne is a perfect amount of time to see the city. Like Berlin, Cologne is chalked full of history, but…

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What Youth Eats: Rum for Breakfast, Please Weekend French Toast with Mount Gay Rum Bananas Foster

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It’s a drink that throws back to LA’s golden age (though, as we showed you in issue 2, LA is pretty damn golden these days). The Brown Derby, a nice blend of bourbon, citrus, and something sweet, was named after the famous Brown Derby restaurant, and invented in the `30s at the see-and-be-seen Vendome Club….

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Radical Class: Wandering in Berlin Eat, drink and be blown away by the countries that like it cold (Pt. 1 of 3)

Travis told me to tell people about all of the cool shit we get to do (Editor’s Note: Yes, I did). Cool shit like going to visit Europe in the dead of winter. And trust me, visiting cities in Europe in winter is very underrated, because there are several countries that are very good at being…

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When you think of herbs, you generally think of food. And when you think of cocktails, you generally think of booze. That is, the spirit: gin, vodka, tequila, and so on. But combining the two, we don’t see that a lot. I heard of herbs in drinks long ago, but wrote off the idea. (Except…

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It’s hard to have a conversation about traveling without someone bringing up Cuba. It’s long been the Holy Grail of American travel because, well, we couldn’t go there. But before heading out on his global kite surfing mission with Richard Branson, President Obama restored diplomatic relations with the Cuban government for the first time in over 50 years. A very…

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How To Drink Mezcal in Mexico City “For every ill, mezcal — and for every good as well.”

When you go to Mexico City, don’t order tequila. Or a margarita for that matter. Order mezcal. It’s the drink of choice and will earn you immediate respect from the locals. Mezcal is smokier than tequila, but with similar effects, and it pairs nicely with the spicy food and the flavors Mexico City is known…

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After checking out (and nodding along with) Travis’ recent fall syllabus featuring the literary heavy-hitters many of us have returned to again and again for inspiration, I had the urge to put together another reading list for you guys, made up of authors you maybe haven’t yet read or even heard of. With two Pulitzer…

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If you go to school, or went to school or tell people you go to school, you’ve seen a syllabus. A paper full of shit you’re supposed to read. You get it the first day of class and when you do you feel jazzed and promise yourself to read them all. Get A’s. Participate. Get…

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When morning comes too soon A playlist for the final dawns of the summer

Maybe it’s on the hardwood floor of a living room in Santa Cruz. Or the front seat of a tour bus, a towering New York hotel with a view, or a log cabin surrounded by mountains covered in snow. Or maybe it’s the backseat of a Volkswagen van in Venice. Or in the sand covered in fog. Mornings like these…

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