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Tools & Gadgets

Let’s face it, kitchens tend to be overloaded with “stuff.”

There seems to be a fancy gadget out there for every cooking task imaginable. But the reality is that you only need a few basic pieces of equipment to make your life in the kitchen easier. We’ve cut through the clutter and come up with a list of the equipment we can’t live without.

Must Have Items
  • Tongs: One 9-inch pair and one 12-inch pair, stainless steel with non-slip handles, lockable for easy storage. The long pair can double for grill duty.
  • Turner: The best turner, hands down, is a chef’s slotted turner, also called a fish turner. Slotted, flexible, and controllable, it’s an extension of your hand.
  • Whisk: You only need one, a French whisk. Also called an egg or sauce whisk, this can handle most any chore from whipping cream to smoothing out sauces.
  • Large spoon: Pick a wood one, to prevent scratching your pans. Tight-grained wood, like olive or maple, won’t absorb flavors.
  • Rubber spatula: Silicone is best since it can withstand temperatures up to 900° F. The spatula head can scrape and stir, then go straight into the dishwasher, sans handle, for easy cleanup.
  • Ladle: You only need two—a 2-ounce one for cooking and a 6-ounce for soup.
  • Instant-read thermometer: Digital models are inexpensive and work well.
  • Can opener: choose a sturdy can opener with a smooth operating mechanism.
  • Cutting boards: While wooden and composite boards are equally safe, the lighter composites are becoming quite popular. They’re reasonably maintenance free and can be thrown in the dishwasher for cleaning.
  • Peeler: Choose either a standard “scraper-“style peeler or a “Y” peeler with a comfortable ergonomic handle.
  • Box grater: Four-sided stainless steel grater with rubber base for stability.
  • Stainless steel dry measuring cups and spoons: having a couple of sets comes in very handy.
  • Glass 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
  • Nesting mixing bowls: Stainless steel bowls with slip resistant bases are wonderful, but glass is good too.
  • Colander/strainer: You’ll want a large stainless steel colander with two handles for pasta and vegetables; a medium-size fine-mesh strainer is great for removing seeds from fresh lemon juice and straining small amounts of sauces.
  • Rolling pin: Choose a maple or ash wooden pin with handles. Make sure it’s not too heavy for you.
  • Citrus reamer: A wooden or metal lemon reamer with a large easy-to-grip handle.
  • Electric hand mixer: A simple three-speed model is sufficient for most mixing jobs.
Extra Splurges
  • Stick blender: Also called an immersion blender, these hand held blenders store easily, are a snap to clean, and allow you to cook and blend food in the same pot. Good for pureeing soups, making milk shakes and smoothies and frothing milk for coffee drinks.
  • Food processor: If you do a lot of chopping, slicing, shredding or pureeing, you probably need a powerful food processor. They come with plenty of attachments to make food prep fun and easy. They’re also great for making and kneading dough in no time.