Q I’m in the market to buy a full set of cookware. I do a lot of cooking with veggies, and I’m willing to spend a few hundred dollars if necessary to get something that will last. How do I pick a good cookware set? Should I get stainless steel, no-stick cookware, or something else? I’d also like to buy a good set of knives for chopping veggies mostly, and I don’t need stuff that is designed to cut dead animal flesh. I have a couple JA Henckels knives that I really like — are those the best? How do I pick a good set of knives for vegan cooking? Are there any types of knives I won’t need because they’re designed for cutting meat?
A A well equipped kitchen is the first element of a home cook succeeding and enjoying cooking. I recommend cooking in high quality stainless steel cookware. In my experience both in my home kitchen and in the professional setting of my restaurants, I have found Italian made to be the best. A company by the name of Aeternum (Eternity) has the best line of stainless steel cookware. On occasion, I have seen natural foods markets sell an Aeternum starter kit with about six or seven various size pots and pans. Call Miracle Exclusives, the American distributor for Aeternum products at 1 (800) 645-6360 to request a catalog.
Yes, you will easily spend several hundreds of dollars. It is worth every cent of it because if you take care of these pots and pans you will have them for a lifetime. Do not settle for lighter lesser stainless steel pans found at department stores or specialty home stores. They will not conduct the heat well, they will not hold in the heat as well. Great vegetarian cooking is done on a low flame and the heat needs to be held inside the pot tightly. Thick, heavier, better built stainless steel is what you need to find in a pot or pan. Not the light weight cheap (but often over priced) cookware that is being sold in the market place.
I suggest you buy an assortment of pots with lids. Start small with a two-quart saucepan, four quart, six quart to a large stock pot. Keep in mind how many people you are cooking for on a daily basis. Also consider if you like to have dinner parties and will be cooking for more than your usual number, you’ll want to get one or two larger pots. Choose some of the pots to have long handles and others with two short handles. I like wide mouth pots especially for boiling and steaming. Get two fry pans, one small, one large.
Knives are a very personal affair. I recommend the main knife you use for serious chopping and cutting be a stainless steel Japanese vegetable knife with a squared tip. It is good to ‘try on your knives’ to make sure they feel good in your grip. Small paring knives and bread knives are good to have one hand. Heavy French knives, designed for cutting meats are best used in vegetarian cooking for cutting open winter squashes. An excellent catalog resource for knives is Goldmine Natural Food Catalog 1 (800) 475-3663.