Have you noticed the number of small appliances on the market today that cook just one type of food?
You can find cotton candy makers, chocolate fountains, cake pop/donut hole bakers, mini pie bakers and snow cone makers. That’s just for the sweets. You also can have a hot dog roller, pretzel maker, corn dog maker, pigs in the blanket maker and more. Most of them cost around $20 except for the soda maker and a jam and jelly maker that cost around $100! An appliance that cooks just one food is a waste of money and of space in the kitchen. It will end up in the landfill in a year or two.
If you are thinking about giving kitchenware this holiday or helping someone set up a home, consider buying the best basic cooking tools you can afford because they will last a lifetime.
Knives —The three that are most used are a paring knife for peeling and trimming, a chef knife for chopping and a knife with a serrated edge for cutting bread and tomatoes.
Pans — A medium (3 quart) sauce pan with a lid for cooking sauces, vegetables, rice, etc.; a large skillet with a lid (12 inches or more) for stir frying, browning, sandwiches and a stock pot (10 quarts) for pasta and soups, are the most versatile and will get the most use.
Measuring cups and spoons — Correct measuring tools are especially important for baking, but are also used when cooking. Look for sets to measure dry ingredients that include four measuring cups: 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup and 1 cup measures. Add measuring spoon sets including 1/4, teaspoon, 1/3 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon. Complete this gift with a clear cup that has measuring marks on the side and a spout to pour liquids.
Cutting boards — Plastic boards are inexpensive, flexible, easy to store and dishwasher safe. It’s best to use several boards at once so vegetables and raw meat are not mixed on the same board. Some people designate one board for meat and poultry, another for vegetables and fruits and another for breads.
Peeler — Use this tool for potatoes, carrots, apples, kiwi, and mangos because less food is trimmed away than when using a knife.
Wooden spoons — These are great for stirring without scratching your pans, and they don’t conduct heat so you can leave them in the pot if you like.
Rubber spatulas — Two sizes will handle most scraping jobs. The large one can be used to stir and fold batter and to scrape the inside of bowls. The small is good for scraping small cans like tomato paste or peanut butter.
Whisks — These are great for making sauces and beating eggs or thin batters. Even though a cook can get by with a fork, the whisk works better and is easier to grasp.
Colander/strainer — This is a handy tool for draining pasta, vegetables, berries and more. A metal one can even be used for steaming.
Instant read thermometer — Very important for knowing when meat and poultry are done and for reheating food. Use of a thermometer is an essential food safety practice.
Mixing bowls — A basic set is one large and one small.
Can opener — Give a basic turn-the-crank model that can be cleaned when dirty and stored in a drawer.
If you are gifting someone who loves to bake, you might consider:
• 9 x 13 pan (used for cakes, bars, casseroles)
• Baking sheet (used for cookies and rolls)
• Loaf pan, pie pan, or muffin pan
• Cooling rack
Other nice and useful gifts are garlic presses, weight scales and graters. (Source: Peggy Martin, Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.)
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