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December 02, 2007



I don't drink tea, but my tea ball works wonders - need a bouquet garni, but don't want to bother tying things? Tea ball. Making Filipino adobo, but don't want to bite down on various pickling spices? Tea ball.

Lynn D.

Some months ago I just had to get myself a mandoline (Oxo),seems like I was reading recipes everywhere that required one. I did some practice cuts on potatoes and carrots and haven't used it since! What do you use your mandoline for?


Where were you when I was starting out all those years ago? A great read, thank you! My query - how do you care for your wooden chopping boards?


So true, Vicki- they are great for this, and it is much easier than tying a bunch of splintering herbs with string for a bouquet garni. You can just stuff them in there, and use the little hook at the end of the chain to suspend it from the rim of the pot into your burbling liquid. Make this stainless, folks- tin is a bad idea, like-wise fancy silver.

Lynn- I use it all the time, but on reflection, most often for slicing potatoes thinly for gratins, potato pizzas, etc....fennel for salads,too. Also, I like to slice a bunch of root veg very thinly, and poach them in soup, or with fish...or layer them in gratins, with sauce or cheese between. It doesn't sound all that varied, but I use it so much that it needs a new blade. So there must be more that I'm not thinking of.

Jennifer- I scrub my cutting boards with bleach and a scrubby, but otherwise neglect them shamelessly. Frankly. I'm not sure exactlywhat one is supposed to do. Oil them perhaps? Nonetheless, they seem to last forever.

Vicki in Michigan

LOVE my thermometer!

No more guessing when baked goods (breads!) are done. Or the turkey. Or the pumpkin pie...........

Mine was a Christmas present last year, and I use it all the time.


Excellent list, Lindy! What can I possibly add to it? Maybe a lemon reamer -- I use mine a lot and it's great for getting the last bits of juice of a lemon. A citrus zester -- it's good for only one thing, though it does that job well, producing wonderfully long shreds of zest minus the bitter pith.

I have to check out the serrated veggie peelers; I've not heard of this kind of peeler before, and they sound very handy. Thanks for the tip!


Vicki- I like my little instant read thermometer, too. Though for years I cooked without one, I think I was probably being silly. It may actually belong in the necessities group- much more sensible than spending years learning to estimate temperatures by look and feel!
There is also a simple wall thermometer (less essential) hung in my kitchen, left over from my earliest and most compulsive bread-making days. It's still there, because it is a cool old one, shaped like a pig, which was given out by a butcher shop as a promo item. It appeared at a yard sale, and wanted to come home with me.

Tania-The citrus tools are very handy, and cheap. And they remind me that we need to list a grater! I'm going to add one.


I am having serious utensil rack envy here... to a somewhat alarming degree. :-)


First, your enamal utensils are fabulous. What a find.

Second, what about a potato masher? I know you have a potato ricer in your not-strictly-necessary list, but at my house we tend to use a potato masher rather than a potato ricer when making mashed potatoes, and I don't think there's a good substitute for a potato masher.

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