Thursday, March 27, 2008

Book Review: Alton Brown's Gear For the Kitchen


By none other than Alton Brown


Sorry for another book review so close to the last one, but I just finished reading it today and It's pretty darn good.


If you don't know who he is, Alton Brown is a food network personality. His show entitled Good Eats is geared toward the scientific side of cooking. The great part about it is, he makes it interesting. I distinctly remember one episode when he was talking about thermoses, and spent a good few minutes explaining how they worked and why crappy ones were crappy and good ones were good and what to look for if you want true functionality in a thermos. He further goes on to actually explain why things are done a certain way scientifically and creates neat cooking gadgets that actually work, like a smoker made out of clay pots and a hot plate.


The book pretty much follows those lines dealing with all of the items that you have (or shouldn't have) in your kitchen. It is an excellent resource for someone starting out building their kitchen equipment as well as plenty of good information for the seasoned veteran. If your kitchen is a little (or a lot) cluttered, then this book is the place to start.
One of the big things that he warns about is buying "sets" of things (knives, storage containers, etc.). You may pay a little more buying them individually, but when you buy the set, chances are that you are buying pieces that you don't need. It makes perfect sense to me. I have a nice set of henckel knives in the kitchen. I think there are 7 of them. Guess what? I only use 4 of them. There are 3 knives that I pretty much have no use for, or the specific use that they do have only pops up once in a blue moon and can typically be performed by another knife.
He is also big on substitute items such as a mortar trowel that he bought at the hardware store that is cheaper and just as good as any pie server that he has used.
Functionality and cleanability are two keys in most of his items. If it doen't clean easy, don't use it. If something else does the job better than what you are using, then use the something else. Even if it wasn't designed for that purpose.
He has a strong aversion (and reasonably so) to uni-taskers. Items that have but one function and one function only. He sticks to that fairly strongly unless of course you go to his website and buy a salt cellar. I must admit that I bought one from him a couple of years ago, but it just looks so good setting next to the stove. Right next to the big granite mortar and pestle that I have but rarely use, but it looks cool as well so both are staying. I don't care what Alton says.
He even throws a few oddball recipes in there that sound pretty good. Another plus is a short chapter toward the end dealing with food safety and handling that should be at the top of the list of everyone that likes working in a kitchen.
I didn't even realise that I had this and ran across it going through a cabinet looking for something else. There is a price tag on the back that says $27.50. I am pretty sure that I got it off of a clearance rack or a garage sale. But it can be purchased at Amazon for $18.15.
Over all rating? Great book no matter how much you think you know about your kitchen gear. Chock full of good information. I highly recommend it as a good read.
Thanks for reading!
Greg

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