You’ve spent your $200 on basic pots, pans, knives and implements. You’ve got a moderately functional kitchen. Now it’s time to kick things up a notch as the saying goes, and pick some of the tools that will really put your cooking into overdrive. No don’t worry, none of them are expensive, just very, very handy when it comes to taking on recipes that have more than a few steps.
1) A pepper mill: Fresh ground pepper doesn’t make that much of a difference, does it? Yes it does. Buy one of these. Decent ones are under $20.
2) A garlic peeler: These little seven dollar silicone tubes are one of the great inventions of the modern age. A five minute job now takes five seconds – and you don’t get your hands all smelly!
3) An immersion blender: These were once expensive, but no longer. Twenty bucks will get you one, and they’ll do everything a blender can do except crush ice. Use the to purée soups and sauces and make smoothies right in the cup.
4) Easy-grip vegetable peelers: These are not only easier to hold, they come in designs that make it easier than ever to peel the skin off every contour of your veggies.
5) A microplane grater: Nothing more than a wood rasp adapted to the kitchen, they allow you to grate citrus zest, spices and hard cheeses very finely and with little effort.
6) A silicone baking mats: Bake whatever you want to bake on these, nothing – but nothing – will stick to them. They can be had for about $10 at any kitchen or restaurant supply store.
7) A digital thermometer: Another formerly expensive item that is now under $20, digital thermometers will tell you how done your steaks or roasts are, and are indispensable is you aspire to pastry or candy-making.
8) Silicone spoons & spatulas: If you’ve ever left a rubber scraper on the edge of the stove and had it melt into a smelly puddle, you’ll be amazed by their silicone equivalents. And they’re not much more expensive!
9) Kitchen shears: Scissors for the kitchen is what they are. They have a million uses, plus they pop apart at the hinge for easy cleaning. You need them.
10) Flexible cutting mats: A major step up over cutting boards, they allow you to pick up whatever you’ve chopped and funnel it right into a pan or a bowl. Plus they’re color coded so you don’t cross-contaminate your foods. Cool!
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