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Your First Apartment — Six Things Needed In The Kitchen

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The kitchen is the room or area in your apartment that is used to prepare and cook meals. Having a separate room for meal preparation dates back to ancient times. In Greece and later in Rome kitchens were common inside the homes of the wealthy while commoners often shared public kitchens. Cooking was done with wood fires back then so kitchens were often open-air rather than enclosed spaces. Later in medieval times, the kitchen was occasionally built in a sunken-floor building apart from the main residence in an effort to keep the main living quarters free from smoke.

Moving ahead to the age of electricity, thankfully we do not have some of the problems the ancients had when it comes to our kitchens. Smoke inhalation is less of a concern (hopefully) as well as the problem of having clean running water. The need to have firewood and water brought to the kitchen, to mention nothing of the preparation of the food itself, made cooking quite a laborious activity. Technological advances have made it so that we can prepare a home-cooked meal in minutes–all from one room.

Designing Your Kitchen For Style And Function

A lot of work and research goes into designing a stylish and functional kitchen. The first thing to consider is what kind of items do you need for your kitchen. Luckily, there are few essential items that every kitchen in the Western world should be stocked with. These would include sinks, stoves, ovens, refrigerators, freezers, small appliances, cookware and eating utensils (just to name a few).

In this article we will discuss six items that are needed in your first apartment’s kitchen. Note, we will not discuss appliances. Though things like a cooking range, a refrigerator and a dishwasher are incredibly important to have in your kitchen, we will not discuss them here because so many apartments come furnished with these appliances already. Instead, we will focus on the basics that are not appliances. Such as…

Silverware — Because Eating With Your Hands Is Bad Etiquette

Silverware is a term that refers to the flatware (i.e. eating utensils or cutlery) that people in the West use for eating food–regardless of whether it is actually made of silver or not. The primary components of a set of silverware will be spoons, forks and knives. Hybrid versions of the spoon, fork and knife are becoming increasingly popular, such as: the spork, a spoon/fork hybrid; the spife, a spoon/knife hybrid; and the sporf, a spoon/fork/knife hybrid.

As you may surmise from the name, traditionally silverware was made from silver–sterling silver being the most popular material from which to make high-quality silverware. Historically, silverware sets made from silver were mostly seen in the homes of the wealthy due to the exorbitant cost. Nowadays silverware made from silver is slightly more common in middle class homes but is usually reserved for formal occasions. Stainless steel is the most common material for silverware today.

In fancier silverware sets, you will find some less common utensils such as: tomato servers, salad forks, stuffing spoons, cracker scoops, lobster picks, potato forks, etc. The very fanciest sets can be made from gold. Though most of us will never know what it is like to eat with the most expensive silverware sets, we should not resign ourselves to being satisfied with boring and mundane flatware.

An attractive set of silverware does more than just give us a delivery system to transport food to our pieholes–it enhances the atmosphere of the meal! Silverware is a compliment to the table, to the dinnerware and to the home in general. So take great care in selecting a silverware set that you can be proud to display at your next meal. A worthy addition to any kitchen would be the Mikasa Satin Loft 65-piece stainless steel flatware set which we recently reviewed and gave a very positive review. Cannot recommend highly enough!

Dinnerware, And No, We Are Not Talking About Styrofoam Plates

So we covered the importance of silverware. No less important to creating the finest dining experience is the dinnerware–plates, bowls, glasses and mugs. After all, what is the very first thing you notice when you sit down at the table to eat a meal, especially if you have to wait for the food to be brought out? It is the dinnerware sitting before you.

Knowing that having an attractive dinnerware set laid out on the table is important for a first impression, we really should give some thought to what kind of dinnerware we want to put on display for our guests. The dinnerware should set the proper mood by complimenting both the meal itself and the overall narrative of the dinner. For a stellar dining experience, cooking a great meal is but a part of the equation. The presentation of the meal is equally as important, if not more so.

The purpose of dinnerware goes beyond just design and presentation. There are functional purposes to dinnerware that must be recognized. First, dinnerware keeps food where it supposed to be or, more importantly, keeps the food from being where it is not supposed to be–on the table, floor or lap of the eater! Dinnerware can also keep hot food warm. Also the style and shape of each piece of dinnerware is appropriate for some foods and not others. A steak should be on a plate. Soups and stews should be in a bowl. Coffee should be in a mug.

We have discussed just a few of the reasons why dinnerware is a vital component for your kitchen and for your dining experience. So make a great impression on your guests by choosing the right dinnerware set. Here’s an exceptional dinnerware set–the Gibson Elite Café Versailles 16-piece double bowl dinnerware set–which our editors gave high marks.

Cookware, The Workhorse Of The Kitchen

The workhorse of any kitchen has to be the cookware. Let’s be honest, you are not making a fine meal if you do not have a set of pots and pans. Hint: P,B & J sandwiches are not a fine meal! Choosing a cookware set is no easy task due to the hundreds of choices available, ranging in price from the stupid cheap ($30) to the crazy expensive ($1000 or more). With such a discrepancy in pricing, if you are like most consumers, you are probably wondering if quality even matters when it comes to cookware. It depends largely on how much you cook and your level expertise.

The biggest difference between high-end cookware and low- or mid-tier cookware is the build quality. A cheap skillet or pan will often not have evenly distributed heat distribution which makes it very difficult to properly cook some foods. If cooking something delicate that is easy to either under-cook or over-cook, these cheaper cookware sets are definitely not the way to go.

Higher-end cookware will distribute heat evenly due to the materials used in its construction. They will usually have a copper inner core to improve heat conductivity. The preparation of some meals involves browning food on a stove and then finishing it in the oven. Don’t try this with cheap cookware as they are usually made with plastics and coatings that are not oven-friendly. And finally, the cheap cookware sets just won’t hold up over time and heavy use.

So treat cookware as an investment. Buy the right set and it will give you joy for years to come. Buy the wrong cookware set and you will rue the day. Now for a recommendation: the Rachael Ray Cucina hard porcelain enamel nonstick cookware set. We loved this cookware set and so will you!

Prepare Meals Like A Chef With The Right Set of Knives

So we are equipping the kitchen of our first apartment. You will not get very far along with most meal preparations without a set of knives. Whether slicing onions, dicing peppers or cutting up fruit, ask any chef in the world what is the most important tool in his arsenal and a good knife will usually be the answer.

When you are first settling in to a new apartment, spending a lot of money on a set of knives is probably not priority number one, especially when there are so many cheaply priced knife sets on the market. After all, a knife is a knife is a knife. Right? Wrong! Those cheap knife sets are cheap for a reason–build quality. Cheap knifes will not hold an edge and are not durable enough to holdup to heavy use. A dull knife is a dangerous knife, and a dull knife that could break from use, even more so.

Obviously, you probably don’t want to spend $500 on a top-tier knife set for your first apartment, unless you are planning on going to culinary school in the near future. So, the right knife set for the average user will strike a balance between quality and price. The outrageously expensive sets are probably not appropriate, and the cheapest knife sets are definitely not a consideration due to their hazardous nature.

So let me think:

Hey! We recently reviewed a very high quality knife set that is quite reasonable in price. The J.A. Henckels International Statement 15-piece knife set was a big hit with our editors and gets some amazing reviews from users. Fifteen well-built and attractive knives complete with a block–without the sticker shock!

Garbage Can, More Than Just A Trash Receptacle

Now for perhaps the least sexy item that we must have for our first apartment’s kitchen–the garbage can. OK, it may not be sexy but it is absolutely vital. Your apartment–in particular, your kitchen–will generate trash and waste that must be properly disposed so that our home remains a clean and healthy environment.

So what do we look for in a garbage can? Yes, that is a serious question. Trying to make the smartest purchases for our first apartment applies to all our purchases, trash bins included. A properly functioning garbage can should have a lid that seals to prevent foul odors from wafting through the apartment. Having your garbage can covered also prevents insect infestations.

Garbage cans will require cleaning on occasion so having a surface that is easy-to-clean such as stainless steel is a welcome addition. A good trash can is also sturdy enough to resist denting. And in today’s world where we are much more eco-friendly, having a separate container in your trash bin for recyclable items is not just a nice perk–it is a requirement!

So don’t just buy some cheap and flimsy plastic can that is as nonfunctional as it is ugly. Spend a little more for a premium garbage can that looks good and has all the features you want, including a recycle bin. The Simplehuman Liner Rim Dual Bucket Rectangular Recycling Step Trash Can astounded our staff when we reviewed it. It will completely change the way you think about garbage cans!

Save Money With Food Storage Containers

Food storage containers are a must-have for any kitchen. They are designed to keep food fresh, which ultimately means less food wasted and more money in your pocket. Sets of food storage containers come with containers in a vast array of sizes and shapes, so finding one that is appropriate for a particular portion of food you are wanting to store is never difficult. Meats, veggies, fruit, sauces and liquids can all be stored safely in a quality food storage container.

Food storage containers are usually made out of plastic or glass or a combination of the two and should always seal airtight. Food storage containers are usually clear or semi-clear so that you can see what is stored in each container. Although modern plastics are perfectly safe, due to health concerns many consumers prefer glass containers that are BPA free. Glass also has some advantages over plastic in terms of holding up over repeated microwave use. On the other hand, plastic will not shatter should you drop it.

A good food storage container set will come with a good quantity of containers is several sizes. The containers themselves should hold up to repeated microwaving and repeated freezing, and should retain their ability to lockup airtight over time. A great food storage container set will also be stackable so they occupy less space in the cabinets when not in use, or in the fridge or freezer when in use.

Avoid the flimsy containers offered at bargain basement prices at your local dollar store. You are not saving money with these–you are throwing money away! Buy a quality set of food storage containers that will last for years, if not decades. Our editors reviewed the Rubbermaid Premier Food Storage Containers, a superb set of containers that will more than pay for itself in the long run.

Final Thoughts On Creating The Perfect Kitchen For Your First Apartment

Creating the perfect kitchen for your first apartment can be a fun and exciting experience. Having the right kitchenware not only solves a lot or problems as far as function but also can provide a sense of pride. The kitchen isn’t just a work space relegated for utilitarian purposes. It is the lifeblood of the home. Family and friends naturally gravitate to the kitchen, especially when meals are being prepared. Put some thought in what wares you purchase and transform your kitchen into a warm and comfortable room that is simply enticing.

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