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I  get asked loads of questions about gear, so this is a list of some of my favorites.  Most are very practical, well made, and not super expensive.

First up, this is one of my favorite gadgets. This is the Cuisinart 3-in-1 6 quart multi cooker. I use this for so many goodies, like easy marinara, stews, soups, braised and roasted meats. It’s large enough for a 4 pound whole chicken and my favorite family pot roast. This is my easy go-to for one pot meals, and replaced a large slow cooker. Many recipes include browning and searing meats and veggies before going into the slow cook phase. This usually means two pots to cook the meal and extra clean-up. This is a big problem for me. It extends the time to make a meal, and creates more mess. The multi-cooker simplifies the process of slow cooking, and much more. It has a good timer, multiple settings for browning, and slow cooker options. I gave it four stars; for me the one drawback is that the removable pan is a Teflon type material and can scratch if the wrong tools are used.  It is very easy to clean.

Since I am on the subject of cookware, this is my primary skillet. An oldie but goody is the Lodge 12 inch Pre-Seasoned cast iron skillet. It’s very tempting to go with a cheaper brand, but this is the best. We have all heard stories of family members inheriting the Lodge, and in my family, my sister got my mom’s and she uses it all the time. Without giving away my age, it’s well over 50 years old. and still in amazing condition. Over time the surface will be close to a non-stick surface if it’s well cared for. This year I will add the Lodge 10-inch skillet to the collection. Best thing to do with this? Cook bacon frequently, drain off the bacon juice (do not discard), and simply wipe it out with some paper towels. You will thank me.

This George Foreman grill is a very handy thing for one or two people, or in situations where live fire is not advised, such as apartment balconies, or covered patios. When I do demos, this was the best mobile option for grilling steaks, chicken, sandwiches, and more. The non-stick surface is tougher than expected. It does require cleaning that isn’t necessary for a gas or charcoal grill, and if sugary sauces are used, the cleaning gets a bit harder. However; this has developed a certain seasoning on the grill that enhances the flavors of what I grill, similar to a cast iron skillet. Sometimes they can be found in fun colors, but the black one is the easiest to own because, you know, doesn’t show dirt. It can be used indoors, and left outdoors on a covered space. It has a five year warranty, which is phenomenal for an electric appliance.  I have had mine for over 5 years, and it’s still in great shape.  I use it about once a week.  I have grilled whole fish, veggies, steaks,  and spatch cocked a whole chicken.  I think it’s impossible to overheat the grill, and other than just good old wear and tear and scratching, the non-stick surface will last a very long time.  It’s worth the $80 to $100 to get tasty grilled foods!

I recently purchased a new smoker.  Every year, I smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving and although my trusty Weber has done the job, my new residence frowns on open fires.  So o the recommendation of a friend, I got a tiny Traeger.  The little smoker/grill is perfect for a small yard with close neighbors.  It’s quite the change from the fuss of smoking meats on a charcoal grill, plus it’s easier to handle the ashes. The pellets make cooking easier, and having a thermostat has changed me.  I just pour in the pellets, plug it in and set the temperature.  The only downside is that it is electric and rain is not a friend to electricity.

It was Amazon Prime Day, and I went shopping.  My cookware was a mish mash of items, some professional cookware, and beautiful set of stainless steel, and just old odds and ends.  Much of the inexpensive items had warped and no longer heated evenly. I have a portable induction burner for demos and classes, and my very nice stainless and aluminum are not compatible, so it was time for a change.  I found the Circulon 10 piece set, ordered it and fell in love!  This incredible hard-anodized super tough non-stick cookware is amazing!  It’s compatible with induction, has a thick multilayered base that sits flat on the ceramic cook top, and with the next generation Teflon surface, metal spatulas can be used.  It’s oven safe and the exterior surface can be take a little elbow grease if needed, so it will look nice for photos for a long time. It’s supposed to be dishwasher safe, but I will leave that test to others.  I hand wash all the pans to keep them looking good.

My stainless steel set is Farberware Millenium.  T.D. gave me the set about 20 years ago as a Christmas gift.  The cookware is pretty much bulletproof.  I have cleaned the exterior with steel wool, overheated it, and use the stock pot regularly for stock, soups and stews.  I’ve also added on with newer items that don’t match, but I love them anyway!  Maybe my grandkids will inherit it!  For someone who loves to cook, getting a set of really nice cookware is a great gift.

So here’s the deal.  If you follow the links, they will take you to Amazon.com.  If you buy the item, I get paid a small commission.  And if you do, I am very grateful for your support!

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