I have been collecting the things in my kitchen since the 1960s. It is very rare for me to decide “I’d like to get a …”. My kitchen has been adequate since the 1970s, yet every now and then I add something. Since I gathered this stuff over so many years, I have very rarely felt the pain of a purchase. I doubt that when I die my children will say, “Wow. We hit the mother lode.” They may like some of my stuff and give the rest away. This got me to thinking about the total investment. We tend to think in terms of pots, pans, and knives, but there are terrines, brioche molds, madeleine plaques, and mixing bowls. I have, pleasantly, too but perhaps foolishly, squandered a lot. I have zero interest in totaling it. Do you? Do you wonder, “What would it take to have an ideally stocked kitchen?” I am guessing that many, perhaps most, would come up with a number lower than what we actually spent. Our couer a la creme molds, birds’ nest baskets, and grilling pans might have been bad ideas. I have learned enough over the years to avoid buying things I might never use, but ages ago I bought a few. Oddly, I gave away a few I would like back. No real topic here other than a thought to which you might respond with yours.
Other than a few cast iron skillets and a dutch oven, all of my cookware, bakeware, serving dishes and plates came from Goodwill.
And they are getting it ALL back when I die.
Reduce – Reuse – Recycle.
I’m much like you–my total outlay for cookware is what I consider to be relatively low. However, if I were to list everything I have, and have to replace it buy buying it again, it would be dear.
The big expenses for outfitting a stellar kitchen are the space, the appliances, lighting, HVAC, “furniture”, surfaces, storage, the list goes on and on.
I know a guy… His sister was married to Wolfgang Puck. Her kitchen remodel ran to just over $2 million.
I haven’t been collecting as long as you, but even so, to replace my 20-year accumulation of quality knives, pans, baking and sugar art gear, etc., would not be cheap. Fingers crossed I never have to worry about it. You did remind me, though, that it might not be a bad idea to add a sentence or two to my will about who should get first/second dibs on my kitchen stuff. My whole family cooks so likely someone will be very happy to inherit it! Timely since we are in the midst of estate planning right now.
Not too long ago, my mother was working on her estate/will and asked if there was anything specific I wanted.
I asked if I could have her old cookbook collection, She quickly answered “Sure, its not like your sister would want them, she can barely scramble an egg”
Mine, too, is a 50+ year collection + several “inheritances” + cast offs from non-cooking friends who know I’ll give any quality/quirky kitchen item a home. Some good money here if properly merchandised, but otherwise, Goodwill.
The “cost of a well equipped kitchen” is in the eye and mind of the kitchen person, be they a cook or just water-boiler.
I often come up with random thoughts. This reverie made me reflect on things I no longer have and am glad about or which I was a fool to let go. I am glad I let a nonstick grill pan go, a bad idea on two counts (grill pan and nonstick). I kind of wish I still had the basket for frying birds’ nests, frivolous though it might be. So there is probably forty dollars wasted in several ways: things gone, dumb purchase, frivolous purchase. Fortunately I have had very few of these screw ups.
I bought my mother one of those “birdnest” fry baskets years ago after a birdnest dish tickled her at a Chinese restaurant. As far as I know, she never used it. Long after she passed, I found it hanging in the garage/shop building. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was wasted money, since I think the idea that she could use it pleased her very much.
Do you have a set of rosette or timbale irons? I’ve used mine about 3 times in 20 years.
Not wasted money at all! I have several cooking things gifted to me by my mother, not inexpensive, that I don’t use. But she gave them to me with good intentions, knowing my interests. When I look at them, even unused/rarely used, it’s like a hug. When I’m gone everything I’ve so carefully amassed will just end up in an estate liquidation anyway, so what’s a few more years?
I think this says a lot.
My dad and step-mom are currently downsizing, and my step-mom offered me first pick at any kitchen ware. She rarely cooks now that all of us are grown and out of the house.
I found several pieces of Corning Ware Cornflower that they received as a wedding gift (circa 1982). Barely used and in excellent shape.
Her: “You really want that?”
Me: “Absolutely! These are vintage.”
Her: “Ok… I always thought they were sort of ugly.”
Me: “Huh??? Really???”
Well, some of us are vintage, too. Treasure that Corningware!
Nope. No such set.
Tim, your posts are generally pretty interesting and this one is not an exception. But I’m really interested in the things you gave away that you’d like back?
Going on to your general premise, I think the notional rational person starting from scratch could point to lots of stuff they’d think I never should have bought. But still, I had a reason (damnit) even if I can’t think of it now, for all the stuff I bought.
OTOH, there’s lots of stuff I’ve been gifted with that I should have offered to a thrift shop, if they wanted, or paid to have disposed of if not.
This I think is very unusual. About 1/3 of my family are decent cooks. The other 2/3 basically think a “recipe” starts with “open a can of Campbells XYZ soup, a can of ABC, and a can of DEF”.
I’m not kidding, by the way. And, no shame to them. That’s just all they’ve been taught.
Amen! I have been given things that were pretty nice but did not fit with my approach to cooking. Laden with guilt, I let them go. Every rare now and then I bought something I never should have bought, realized it, and let it go. The grill pan was one. Some of the others were the InstaPot, the non stick Belgian waffle iron, and the 12 quart multipot. Each was nice in its own way but just did not fit. I am much happier with the 1953 Landers Frary waffle iron and the big, heavy Etsy and eBay pieces. I did dabble in Japanese knives (Gyuto, Nakiri, and petty). They all found great homes, but I am just fine with ancient carbon French knives. As to things I gave away but would like back, I listed the bird’s nest, but I used to have a coil bottom tea kettle. The Russell Hobbs does the job, but the old kettle was awfully cool. Two things that got broken that I miss are a T. G. Green grip stand bowl and a Pyrex double boiler.
For those that love to cook (and eat), you cannot put a price on the enjoyment that comes from culinary apparatuses
In any kitchen, the cost of the appliances can add up quickly. But for those who love to cook, the price is worth it for the enjoyment that comes from creating culinary masterpieces. Some of the most essential appliances for any kitchen are a refrigerator, stovetop and oven. A quality set of knives is also a must-have. Depending on what type of cooking you enjoy, you may also need a blender, food processor or stand mixer.
That covers a lot of ground, yes? The large majority of both home and professional cooks aren’t turning out masterpieces. And those who are probably would be doing it without $$$$ appliances.