Like most people, our space is somewhat limited. We like multifunctional tools in the kitchen and rarely buy items that serve only one function. There are a few exceptions of course. But here are some of our most valued tools in the kitchen. A Nice Wooden Cutting Board Sure, we have a couple synthetic boards as well, but there's just something about cutting on a wood cutting board. The patina that it develops over time from nicks, cuts, and stains only adds to its beauty. We have a couple wooden boards. They are also great to serve charcuterie, cheese, or polenta on. You may want to get a little mineral oil at the same time to rub it from time to time. This will help it keep it's lustre.  A Quality Mandolin Spend a few extra dollars and get a good one. It's not only frustrating to have a cheaper model, but it can also be dangerous. Although some basic safety commonsense is all you need, if you get a cheap model, you may regret it and lose the tip of a knuckle. We use our mandolin on a regular basis. Have a lot of veggie that you need the julienne? Done. Need to slice some radish for pickles or a salad? Check. Try freezing chicken and running it thru to slice for stir fry. Works great! Mortar and Pestle OK, this one may not need to go on everyone's list (but you should probably get a simple coffee grinder for spices if you don't get a M&P). But we have actually used our a LOT since we got it this year. And the spices we grind ourselves are much more flavorful. Don't bother with one of the marble versions. You need one with some 'tooth'. This one has been perfect for us. It's a heavy beast, but well worth having around. Just this past holiday season, we used it three times. Circle Molds OK, I cut my biscuits for years with a cocktail glass...but the time has finally come to upgrade. We got this very inexpensive set and absolutely love it. It's so fun to make tiny biscuits or cookies, but still have the larger ones for biscuits or to perfectly mold rice, tartare, etc in and make a beautiful presentation. Do yourself a favor and get a set like this. It's just as cheap as a set of 2 or 3 and much more useful. Plus, these are just fun to have! Food Processor OK, this is a must-have in the kitchen, you know this of course, and you may be putting off the purchase, but you can use this for everything. Need to make butter? This and some heavy cream are all you need. You know all the uses, go ahead and get one.  Microplane We use this almost every time we cook...instead of finely dicing garlic, run it over the plane. Also great for zesting citrus or grinding nutmeg. Enamel Coated Dutch Oven OK, until M came along, I never had one of these and boy does it make a great kitchen addition! We consider this essential for Chili, Soups, etc. This is like ours, but there's certainly more affordable options. Cast Iron Skillet This is a must! We would almost trade our fancy nonstick cookware for a full set of cast iron. The skillets we have are from E's mom, and are naturally seasoned from decades of use. These will last multiple generations and Lodge makes some of the best. This is all I would ever consider using for cornbread! Meat Thermometer It's important to make sure meats are cooked to the proper temps and a quality meat thermometer is sometimes necessary. Sure, you have some wiggle room with a hamburger, but if you are making a roast, cooking a chicken, roasting a loin, or sometimes even a big steak, you want to nail it. This is an inexpensive gadget that you'll love. If you want to get a little fancier, you can get one like this that also has a timer. Chef's Knife It should go without saying that you need a good SHARP kitchen knife! But so many people don't have. You don't need to break the bank on this. You can get a fine quality knife for under $50. Of course, you can spend as much as you like. Along with the knife, get a moderately-priced sharpener. Then about every year, find a dependable knife-sharpening store and have your knife touched up. Around here, most places charge about $1 an inch to sharpen you knives. Keep'em sharp!
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