I started buying a good set of knives. I decided upon the Classic Wüsthof design. I probably should have bought a “starter” set to begin with and then added other knives to it, but basically it was one or two at a time.
The best knife of these is probably the 7 inch Santoku. The blade is thinner (and sharper) than a standard Chef’s knife. This is the right size for chopping vegetables and then scooping them up on the blade and into the pot or pan. The smaller 5 inch Santoku seemed to be “too small” for most of what I would do. If I were to only have two knives, it would be the 7 in. Santoku and the 3.5 in. pairing knife.
Another one of the three best items was a magnetic knife holder for the wall. The knives stand there waiting for you to choose them. I have only had one knife, a boning knife whose shape and handle weight does not work well with the magnetic holder. It has a tendency to slip and has even fallen from the holder a couple of times.
I bought a Braun MR430HC Multiquick Deluxe Hand Blender & Chopper (I think the one I purchased had slightly less horsepower) a stick blender that came with additional attachments which included a whisk and a chopper. I got it at a good price from Linens-n-Things (which is no more). The whisk fits easily in a large mouth jar and I can actually make my “curried mayo” in the jar without causing a mess. The stick blender works well on my “Curried Apple Soup” which allows me to blend the apple, carrot and onion chunks in the hot pot (carefully). And the chopper attachment works well when I want to make some Chipotle & Honey salsa or a garlic & Italian parsley paste for a steak.
ADDENDUM: (05/04/12) Here is another kitchen item that I have been reasonably happy with… with the following exception: I have a homemade pepper corn blend that includes black, white, green and pink peppercorns in varying amounts and my OXO pepper grinder does not grind these reasonably well. I’m not sure if it is the difference in peppercorn sizes, but sometimes the grinder just doesn’t grind this mixture. *Yes, I have tried the various grind settings from small to large and back again. However, I have two other OXO grinders that I use for cumin and coriander and it does an excellent job on both of those seeds. I do not use this grinder for salt. [09/24/12] I bought a slightly cheaper version of this OXO grinder (about $16 at WalMart or maybe it was K-Mart) and find it to be better at grinding than this version.
— THE DORM KITCHEN
When it comes time to send a child away to school, I would give them a good plastic chopping board and an electric wok. Sit these on top of a mini-fridge and you’re in business to keep a growing boy (or girl) well fed.
Rubber spatulas for the non-stick surface of the wok.
Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid 24-piece Set at Walmart for $10