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Like many of my friends, my early 20s diet consisted primarily of frozen pizza, pasta, and beer. But when I moved in with my now-wife, then-girlfriend I began the long, painful process of learning how to cook like a functional adult.
But while binge-watching Chopped re-runs will teach you to pronounce mascarpone correctly, it doesn’t help much when you just need to put a credible meal on the table in under 30 minutes.
One thing that has helped? The Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 3-Quart Stack 'n' Steam ($27.19 at Amazon.com). It is, without a doubt, the least cool thing that I own. If my 8-inch chef’s knife is the starting quarterback in my kitchen lineup, this pot is Rudy. Dependable. Humble. Just happy to be on the team. But it’s the pot that shows up for nearly every meal.
The name gives everything away: It’s a three-quart, stainless-steel sauce pot with a steaming basket that neatly stacks between the lid and the bottom. Just pour a couple inches of water or broth in there, toss the food you want to steam in the basket, put the heat on high, cover, and you’ll have steamed vegetables in no time. And if you don't want to steam, just ditch basket and it’s perfect size making a family-sized portion of sauce, rice, quinoa, or couscous.
It's also easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, as long as you stick to the top rack. But best of all, it’s cheap. While a larger, deeper steamer can be great for seafood or pasta, those will cost you quite a bit more; this one usually sells for less than $30. That makes it easier to replace when you accidentally leave the burner on and are left with a molten mess at the bottom.
Hey, I did say learning to cook was painful, right?