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Published June 03, 2009, 12:00 AM

The tools that make a kitchen

June and December seem to be the most popular months for weddings. And showers, either before or after the ceremony, are standard entertainment for the bride and groom.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

June and December seem to be the most popular months for weddings. And showers, either before or after the ceremony, are standard entertainment for the bride and groom.

When I was married on the last day of 1963, some friends of my mother and of mine held a kitchen shower for me. Grooms were not included in those days. Each guest was instructed to bring one of her favorite recipes on a card, and one of the gifts was a recipe box. I still have the box, most of those recipes and some of the gifts.

Times have changed. But cooking still requires some essential tools. And with wedding season requiring gifts, there are a host of items to treat newlyweds.

I talked with Creative Kitchen’s Mark Sinner at West Acres the other day and he says that cutlery is their biggest seller. People are cooking if they are buying knives. And they have finally gotten the message that if you have good knives, you don’t need a lot of gadgets to do the job that a proper knife will do.

Sinner said that Japanese knives from Shun Knives and Global Knives have become very popular because of the keen edge that they will take. These are more like the French carbon steel knives from Sabatier Knives that I favor.

So, of course, I have some suggestions for kitchen gifts for the new homemakers, providing they don’t already have two kitchens to combine.

Other than knives, basic tools such as graters, peelers, thermometers, mixing bowls, can openers, Foley food forks, serving utensils, metal and rubber spatulas, leftover containers, several strainers, colanders, timers, tongs, whisks, wooden spoons and spatulas, ladles, skimmers, trivets, poultry shears, scissors and good pepper grinders will do the trick. Maybe.

Pots and pans are another matter. They do not have to match. A pan should be chosen with the task it is to accomplish in mind. And heavy pans are better than thin, light ones. Cast iron is wonderful. It must be seasoned, but instructions come with most pans. Enameled cast iron such as LeCruset and Calphalon cookware are excellent. I have one or two of all of the above.

I also have a glass double-boiler which I use to make schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) and one heavy French copper Windsor pan for reducing stock.

In the “The Joy of Cooking,” by Irma Rombauer and her daughter Marion Rombauer Becker, the authors have a section called “Household Needs,” for a well-run kitchen. It is a helpful guide but at more than 120 items, it would take more storage room than most kitchens have.

Baking pans are also necessary if you are going to make cookies, pies, cakes or bread. I only make cakes, for which I use spring-form pans, or bread, and I have my mother’s old bread pans so I can’t advise.

Electronic devices in the kitchen offer many kinds of assistance. To me the necessities are a coffee maker, electric mixer, hand mixer, spice grinder, coffee grinder, toaster oven and several food processors.

I do not have a microwave because I like to be involved with what I’m cooking, and I think it is a very expensive machine used only to heat a cup of coffee. What about a good thermos?

When I have a day off, I like to go and browse at Dakota Food Equipment, 1802 1st Ave. S., in Fargo. It is a restaurant supply business for many years owned by the family of my good high school friend Bev Nelson.

The container holding my kitchen tools is Dakota Food. It is a large, white, ceramic dressing urn like the ones on a salad bar. It is capacious and holds about 25 tools.

As for cookbooks, I recommend “The Joy of Cooking” but one published before the 75th anniversary edition, which I do not like; and both volumes of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Bon appétit.

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