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August 1998 Issue
by Ronda L. Halpin
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The utensils you purchase should always be indicative of the type of use they will undergo. If you have coated cookware, plastic utensils are a must. Also, be careful to make sure that they are heat resistant; otherwise, you might find yourself replacing them every few weeks!

Rather than go into materials and such (the rules that apply to cookware are similar here), I've discussed the types of utensils that are most useful in a basic kitchen. For simplicity, I've grouped them into three basic categories: preparation utensils, cooking utensils, and serving utensils.

Preparation utensils include tools that are used for preparing food that is not being cooked on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave. Your most important set of preparation utensils are your set of knives. These should be of the highest quality affordable. If you try cutting corners with knives, you will end up with more headaches than you can handle and a danger in your kitchen besides. While all knives do pose a safety hazard, ones that are well kept and sharp will, inevitably, cause less harm. At the very least, you will want to have a good carving knife, a chef's knife, and a few good paring knives in assorted sizes. I also suggest you have a set of steak knives for the table. Of course, you can add to your collection as you see fit, but these will give you a good start.

You'll want to keep some wooden and plastic spoons for mixing and such on hand in your kitchen. Mine are stored alongside some of my most important kitchen helpers: spatulas! I suggest you invest in at least two kinds: one large spatula with a long handle for big jobs and one small version for tight squeezes. No kitchen should be without them. A word of warning though: Don't use your spatulas on the stove! If you do, you'll find yourself having to throw out your food and your spatula. The plastic used in them does not resist heat well.

Which brings us to the second kind of utensils: cooking utensils. Depending on the kind of cookware you have, you will need special utensils. You can find out more about what is required by referring to the information provided with your cookware. Some cooking utensils that I would not be without are:

  • At least two large mixing spoons (one is never enough!)
  • One spoon with slits to allow drainage
  • A good old fashioned pancake flipper
  • A soup ladle
  • A heavy fork (for flipping those broiled steaks)
Get cooking utensils that resist warping and are comfortable to use. These tools will get a lot of use and abuse, so choose carefully.
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