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Menu Ideas & Planning

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Tools and 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.

AK Home Cooking SolutionsThe Basics

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.

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