Top 5 Must-have Cooking Tools

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~tasha~

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Many obsessed foodies will go out of their way to get all kinds of fancy cooking tools for the kitchen. The newest gad*gets promising to slice, dice and chop better than the rest seem to catch their attention, and before you know it the cupboards are overflowing with food processors, electric squeezers and juicers and objects with interesting names like Mandoline, Microplane and Silpat.

Of course, it's good to have a well-stocked kitchen, and the greater the variety of cooking utensils you have, the more you'll be able to do. But sometimes it's easy to overlook the essentials -- those classic cooking tools that make it possible to prepare our food. Without most of them, it'd be difficult or even near-impossible to make a lot of everyday foods. Read on to learn about five of the most important cooking tools, listed in no particular order.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
5: Knives and Cutting Boards

Unless you want to tear things apart with your bare hands and make a mess, knives are essential tools.

*Picking up an onion and simply tossing it into a frying pan won't really get you anywhere if you truly want to put it to good use. A*n onion that's cut properly, however, can distribute its flavor across an entire dish. This is, of course, why we have knives. And onions aren't the only things that need to be cut -- almost anything that can be cooked has to be cut in some way, whether it's chopped or minced in a casual way or finely diced to specific dimensions.

A general collection of chef's knives of different sizes and purposes is a good start, but knives aren't the only tools you need. You'll find that a wooden or plastic cutting board is necessary, too, since you don't want to make cuts on an open table and damage both the knife and the table surface.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
4: Measuring Cups and Spoons

Most recipes call for you to add a certain amounts of ingredients, so measuring cups are essential for getting those numbers right.

*If you're interested in baking or trying out new dishes that require spices and other interesting ingredients, measuring cups and spoons are a big help. Following a recipe correctly and putting in just the right amount can give you the best results, but you can also experiment with different measurements of each ingredient. A lot of chefs -- professional and at-home -- enjoy trying out several different combinations and making notes to create one-of-a-kind versions of their favorite dishes.

Many measuring cups are made to stack for easy storage and typically come in sets of four or five, with measurements typically for 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup and 1 cup. Depending on your budget and how nice you want your cups to look, types can range from hi-tech metal to simple plastic.* It's also a good idea to have a clear measuring cup to use for liquids so you can easily judge how much you're adding to the mix.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
3: Mixing Bowls

Of course, if you're using measuring cups to add a variety of ingredients tog*ether into one big group, it helps to have something in which to place them before you start cooking or baking. A good set of mixing bowls, possibly one with a few different sizes, allows you to properly prepare any number of meals easily without making too much of a mess. If you have lots of leftovers, they're also a good tool for storing food after you wash the bowls.

Depending on your preference, you can choose between stainless steel, ceramic or glass bowls. When mixing ingredients in these types of bowls, especially stainless steel, it's a good idea to use plastic mixing spoons or spatulas instead of metal ones, since plastic won't leave unsightly marks and scratches.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
2: Cast Iron Skillets and Pans

Many cooks prefer cast iron skillets to non-stick cookware since they cook more evenly.

*Skillets and pans are a necessary tool for cooking food over a flame, and they're a must in any kitchen. Although non-stick cookware is popular today, many professional chefs prefer to use cast-iron skillets and pans to cook food -- they don't have chemical coatings like nonstick hardware, they cook food more evenly and if properly mai*ntained, they can last for several generations.

If you treat new or refurbished cast-iron cookware correctly, it can have the same properties of non-stick cookware. This requires seasoning and reseasoning the tool, which is a simple process of cleaning and coating your skillets and pans with oils or fats before use. To do this, remove the cookware from any packaging, clean the cookware with soap and water and preheat the oven to anywhere between 250 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit (121.1 to 176.7 degrees Celsius). Coat the insides of the cookware with cooking oil, shortening, bacon grease or lard and place the skillet or pan upside down in the oven. To make sure nothing drips onto the bottom of your oven, it's a good idea to place an ovenproof tray below the cookware. After about an hour, turn off the heat and remove the cookware from the oven. The oil or fat will actually cook into the pores of the cast iron cookware, making it more difficult for food to stick. You can repeat this process, and will probably have to, several times. The skillet or pan should look black and charred once it's seasoned properly.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

~tasha~ says
1: Digital Timers

Undercooking or overcooking a dish can ruin an entire meal. This happens all too often in the kitchen, since cooking usually requires juggling several tasks at the same time. As many cooks know, it's easy to lose track of time when you're preparing food, and simply watching the hands on the clock isn't the best way to judge precise cooking times.

Placing a digital timer near you in the kitchen can solve this problem and help you balance a number of jobs that require different cook times. Timers can be simple or relatively complex. Simple timers offer an adjustable countdown to help you keep one item from burning. But many digital timers offer the option of setting multiple timers, letting you keeping track of a number of cooking jobs.
Posted 11 Jun 2009

lajo says
Posted 11 Jun 2009

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