here’s some free money — spend it already, would ya?

Once upon a time (okay, about a year ago), Nick and I were on a game show together. I won’t go into detail because it was not actually a great experience for us (in short, we were robbed… ROBBED I tell you!), and we have vowed to never go on a game show again (unless, of course, Alex Trebek finally comes a-callin’), but we at least came away from the experience with a consolation prize of a $250 gift card to Cooking.com.

Awesome! you may be thinking. Well, actually, not that awesome. We went on aforementioned game show only a few months after getting married (have you guessed the name of the show, yet?), and when you get married, you register for wedding gifts. And, well, when you register for wedding gifts, you get a LOT of stuff. We were extremely fortunate to receive just about everything off of our registries, leaving us needing very few things in the kitchen.

We have all the shiny and sharp Cutco knives you could ever hope for. I’m not allowed to buy anymore cookbooks because we have a shelf full of them. We have a beautiful set of Calphalon pots and pans, all of the dishes and cutlery we registered for at Crate & Barrel, tons of Tupperware, a KitchenAid stand mixer AND hand mixer, a Cuisinart Griddler, a crock pot… you get the point. We have no backyard so no use for a grill, and no dining room, so no use for fancy table cloths or anything of the sort.

It usually doesn’t take me very long to spend gift cards, but we can’t make up our minds with this one. We just can’t seem to find anything we really need, but we don’t want to let the gift card just keep sitting here, either. (We don’t think it expires, but you never know.) One item that I have my eye on is this beauty:

It’s so, so pretty. We would never, ever in our lives spend $235 of “real” money on something like this, but perhaps this is our opportunity to splurge, since it’s “fake” money? The only problem is that Nick asked me what I would cook in a Dutch oven (after making a predictable Dutch oven joke… men), and I haven’t a clue. Zip. Zilch. Zero. I mean, I don’t cook much as it is (but I’m starting to a leeeeetle more) — how am I supposed to know what you make in this thing? Yet I’ve heard raves galore on these babies, and I’m determined that I could find some use for one. And have I mentioned how gosh darn pretty it is?

Some other less exciting options:

Winsome Wood Hall Bench with Baskets
we could always use extra storage in our hallway

Stainless steel book/pot rack
this would cut down on the naughty language when one of us is trying to dig out the %$#*& pot we need from the depths of our cabinets

A conglomeration of small items that we’d like to have, including Jamie’s Food Revolution (I know I said no more cookbooks allowed, but shhh), a Microplane Zester Grater, a spatula (I always feel like we need a few more), organic dish towels, and a Le Creuset batter bowl (hey, at least I’d get my Caribbean Le Creuset fix somewhere)

So please, tell me: do you have a Le Creuset Dutch oven? What size do you have? Is it really necessary and/or useful if we already have lots of pots and pans and a crock pot? Enlighten me!

If you would opt to spend the gift card on something else, what would you choose?

comments

  1. I have a Le Creuset dutch oven (I'm pretty sure it's a 5.5 qt too) that I got for really cheap at the outlets, and I LOVE it. Actually right now my friend is borrowing mine to make beef stew and I miss it. I feel so crippled in the kitchen. I make everything in it–bread, soups, stock, stews, pasta, veggies. Basically anytime I need a pot that size (or smaller) I use it. I promise you'll LOVE it.

    I do love that bench though too! And it's always tempting to get more little/less expensive things. But, hey, if you splurge on the Le Creuset, it's less items to pack up and move if you ever move!

  2. We do have the Le Creuset Dutch Oven in the 7.25 qt and also a 3.5 qt. I LOVE them and I want to save up my pennies for the midway size (5 qt I think?).

    The most obv. thing to make in these are short ribs. I usually do all our soups in these too, typically browning the onions and meat in the pot first before adding all the wet ingredients, giving soups a rich caramel flavor. I love how easy they are to clean and how they look so cute sitting on the stove. :)

  3. YES! I have the same one but in the darker blue/cobalt-ish color. I admit I don't use it as much as my other pots and pans because it's heavy and not quite as easy to clean as my nonstick stuff. BUT! Ok, 2 things. First of all, it's so fun to add a colorful piece to your cookware collection, and from the bit I know about you, that color was made for you. Secondly, it really comes in handy for long-simmering soups and stews (it's my go-to French onion pot) and things like no-knead bread where you need a heavy-duty pot. Oh and also, it will last forever. If I didn't have one already and had some free money, it would me my first splurge (besides a kitchenaid).

    Hope that helps!

  4. My fiance has 2 and he LOVES them! I admit that I do not use them all that much (um, I don't really cook…) however, the boy uses them often – beef stew is my favorite thing that he makes. But as far as I can tell you can do almost anything with them. Also he has had them for a LONG time and they look like new. Pretty sure he wants to register for at least one more whenever we get around to creating that!

  5. A pot rack will change your life. Our kitchen is small, we've had one 10 years, I'd never go back to pots int he cupboard. PLus it looks really cool.
    The dutch oven will last you a lifetime (it's my second choice)

  6. I have two LeCruesets. The first is a 5.5 quart that I used for soups and small things.

    Example…cook onions and garlic until softened, toss in chopped up ANY veggies (eggplant, celery, carrots, potatoes, red peppers…seriously, anything) cover and cook until soft and add two 26oz cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes and heat through. Then you can either blend to make soup or keep chunky to use as 'Stoup' (a Rachel Ray term…please don't judge).

    The one hold back is that I can't fit a LARGE piece of chuck in it to sear and eventually sit for beef stew. Sigh. But then I was gifted a larger oval one and now that problem is fixed.

    Hmmm…another recipe involes sofetening onions and garlic and tossing in cubed butternut squash and nestling in some chicken pieces and finishing it with some maple syrup and butter and then baking it.

    Tell Nick that you NEED the Le Crueset so you can start your onions and garlic on the range and then finish your dish in the oven.

    Very versatile and ours have always cleaned easily after a short soak.

    ENJOY what ever you get!!

  7. Oh man you picked such great stuff! I am having a hard time giving you advice here.
    I have a big dutch oven and I love it. I use mine for baking bread (that infamous no-knead bread), braising meats, and even frying because it stays so temperature stable. I didn't however buy a Le Cruset because Martha has some for sale at Macy's that are beautiful and durable. Is there another brand at this online store that has enameled cast iron dutch ovens?
    I also LOVE our pot rack. Same style as the one you put up with brackets to the wall. The best part about this is that our nice pots and pans don't scrape each other up stacked in a cupboard. The top shelf that the rack forms is perfect for lids and my stock pot and accessory pans too.

    If this was my fake money I would hate deciding and probably end up buying both of these bad boys with some of my own added on top. Not the point, right? But it's the truth.

  8. In my opinion, the biggest benefit of a dutch oven is its ability to go in the oven. I have all my All Clad LTD sitting in my parents' basement (no room to keep here), so the only pots I have are currently non-stick…. which aren't rated for use over 375 in the oven. So any time I want to start something on the stove and then move it to the oven, I use my Le Cruset.

    But, that said, given my teeny tiny kitchen with no room, I'd LOVE a pot rack over the sink area… then I'd be able to bring down my All Clad pots AND have room for my food processor where I keep my current pots!

  9. I have a 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset dutch oven, and I use it all the time. Last meal in it was chili, but my husband uses it to make the New York Times no-knead bread recipe, and it comes out fabulous every time. We've used it for soups, stews, home-made spaghetti sauce (or as we call it in my family, "gravy"), pastas, and braising meat. I have a wonderful set of All-Clad stainless but nothing replaces my Le Creuset.

  10. Yes! Get the Le Crueset! You can make anything it it, truly, from stews and roasts to ketchup (yep, we make our own ketchup, and it's deeelicious).

  11. I do love the Le Crueset – I have the 5.25 I think (fairly big round one) and a smaller maybe 3.5. I find the smaller one hard to use as it's kind of an in-between size, though it does look pretty on the stove! I use the larger one a fair amount – mostly when cooking for a group or trying to make leftovers. I do a lot of soups/stews/chilis in it and recently made a 5 pound pot roast (Pioneer Woman recipe, really easy) for a dinner party. It's actually convenient because you can do a lot of things that just sit on the stove or in the oven for many hours.
    I also have the Le Crueset cast iron skillet which comes in handy and is a bit cheaper.
    Another little item I love if they have it is the Le Crueset silicone prep bowls ($15/set) – convenient to use, put in the dishwasher and store – they come in measuring cup sizes but also just work well to hold ingredients as you're going (instead of using a full size bowl).

  12. Count me as another vote for have and love the Le Creuset 5.5 qt! Couldn't live without it, in fact. I use it all the time for soups, stews, 5-minute bread, meatballs, and just generally as another pot. Keep in mind that even though it's expensive now, it will literally last you your whole life.

    And I really think we need to hear this game show story.

  13. I actually just made a delicious chili in my 6 3/4 qt Le Creuset dutch oven last night. I love it. That being said, I'd really love a pot rack right now too…Tough choice!

    I need to hear about your game show experience…you're killing me!!

  14. I have a Martha Stewart Le Creuset knockoff dutch oven, but i LOVE it! I second Becca above, it's great to use for just about any recipe in which you need a pot. Since it's so heavy, it's great for even heat distribution. I also love that it can go straight into the oven from the stovetop.

    I heart the Le Creuset Carribbean color!

  15. First, I think we registered for all of the same wedding gifts! Second, my husband earned incentive (monetary) points in his last job, and we used the "fun money" to buy a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. Like you, I don't think we would have splurged on it otherwise. But we LOVE it! We used it a lot during the fall and winter. It's perfect for soups and stews and roasts. And it's red and oh so pretty. I say go for it!

  16. Le Creuset = DROOOOL!! I use my big ole dutch oven all the time (and I got it free with my Calphalon set), but it is nowhere near as sexy and gorgeous at the LC one!! Like you said, I would never spend "real" money on it, but fake money would be awesome! I make pot roast, beef stew, chili, curry, etc., in my dutch oven.

  17. Go for the Dutch oven- we now make up stuff to cook just so we can use it. It even gets Jeremy in the Kitchen because he loves it so much.

  18. Go for the Dutch oven! We registered for one and it is our favorite wedding present (we decided to forgo the coveted Kitchenaid mixer to register for our piece). I use it all the time — almost every day. You can use it for regular stovetop cooking but the best thing, like another commenter said, is its ability to go from stovetop to the oven. When you cook meat, it will melt in your mouth. I find great recipes on the Williams Sonoma web site, btw. Here's a post I wrote about how I use mine: http://fattyfile.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/the-best-thing-about-being-married/

  19. I would go for the dutch oven… I have the same one in green and like others said it is great for soups and things you have to cook for a long time. My favorite it that I can use it on the stove and then stick it in the oven = Awesome!
    The fact that its in a fun color and fun to transport stuff to dinner parties in doesn't hurt either ;-)

  20. get the Dutch oven! my hubs gave me one when we were dating (yes I'm the girl who loves practical presents)
    I use it all the time – soups, stews, sauces, roasting a chicken, braising, short ribs, pot roast, corned beef. . .
    is that enough ideas to get you started on how you could use that Dutch oven

  21. I should also add that my Dutch oven is 6.5 quarts (I think) and it lives on top of my stove at all times. No need to worry about storing it and it's pretty to look at too.
    Plus it cleans up in a snap – even after carmelizing onions.

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