Tuesday, October 21, 2008

to buy or not to buy

i saw this great article in the NY times about which kitchen essentials are worth the extra money, and which ones you can save on. read the full article. it has great tips, like this:

Whole vanilla beans

Imitation vanilla extract should come with a government warning label: You have no idea what you're missing. Even extract made from real vanilla has nothing on the beans themselves. Scrape the seeds into sauces and doughs, steep the husks in vats of crème anglaise for ice cream. You can reuse the beans too. After they're dried, bury them in your sugar bowl for homemade vanilla sugar. Yeah, they're expensive ($1 to $2 for a single Madagascar bean), but when you want the flavor to shine through, they're worth it.--A.S.

any thoughts? i have yet to switch to vanilla beans because of the cost, and i've been trying to decide if i should get a dutch oven when i already have a slow cooker - are they that different? this article is telling me yes..


Michelle said...

uhhh....all i know is when you make your own vanilla from the beans and vodka it is amazing. i also got some awesome organic vanilla from mexico, but i don't know which one is better, probably the one you slave over and spend a buttload on, right?

Leasha said...

i don't agree with all the article's comments, although fondue sets and crepe pans are definitely a waste. maybe my taste buds are off, but unless you are making ice cream, i can't tell a big enough difference from the real beans vs the real extract. (r will probably choke at this comment).
for certain you need a few good knives (we love global), the thermometer, and the mini cuisinart has been my best friend before AND after the baby!

there are always deals on these items online, too. i think we only paid real money for a few of our kitchen gadgets and got lucky on the rest.

Veeda said...

I can't advise you on the slower cooker, but vanilla beans are definitely worth it. They really do make a huge impact.

Also, you should try Costco for your beans. For whole vanilla beans, they are priced decent there.

Theresa said...

Dutch ovens are great for making bread in....you can make amazing bread in these (in your own oven) I am about to spring for one- and looking at Lodge.
I am a huge vanilla bean fan. Love them. Nothing beats vanilla bean homemade ice cream or whipped cream. Vanilla sugar is also awesome- make your own jar by scraping the interior of the bean out and adding it to sugar (store the left-over bean in the jar as well). Tastes awesome in herbal tea, steamed milk, and hot chocolate (even on oatmeal).

Amy said...

I really love my le creuset dutch oven, HOWEVER, I would never own one if it hadn't been a wedding present. I think you can find cheaper brands that would work just as well (I think there's a Mario Batali brand or something that looks just the same). But the dutch oven really does seem to cook things so much more nicely. And it's nice to be able to go from stove top to oven to table with it.