Operating out of a kitchen with very little storage space, I've learned to pare down the array of gadgets and cookware that I permit to clutter up my three drawers. I keep a minimum of pots and pans, and store things on the walls (like my skillets and knives) when I can. There are definitely things I'd like to upgrade; I need better knives, for one thing, as I've been using the crappy IKEA cutlery that sells for $8 for a Santoku. (Okay, I admit, I love that knife, and I'll love it a lot more after I remember to take it to my father to sharpen. Still, one day I'll have grown-up knives.) Every cook, however, has those gadgets and tools she loves regardless of price or practicality.
1 - My favorite cooking spoon, which I think came from Target. It has a lovely handfeel and somehow has managed not to collect any gouges or burns so far.
2 - A Mario Batalli tasting spoon I got from Whole Foods. Drastically overpriced, but I just loved the way it felt in my hand, and the fact that it has a stirring end and a tasting end. The small end helps you take a taste without burning your tongue.
3 - A cookie scoop that S1ren gave me; the back is silicone, so you scoop up dough and then push it out the front. It makes perfectly sized lumps of dough.
4 and 5 - Pinch bowls, one of my weird little passions. The top two are glass from IKEA and measure perhaps 1 1/2" across; the bottom two are silicone. I hate silicone bakeware, but silicone definitely has its culinary uses.
If you look carefully on the right-hand side you can see Owen's paw.
Across the top is another gift from S1ren, a Pushme/ Pullyu, which normal people would call an oven rack hook. One side hooks on the rack to pull it out of the oven, and the other side is notched to push it back in. That way you avoid burning yourself, which somehow I always manage to do on oven racks even in a hazmat suit.
Second row, left to right:
1 - Contrary to expectation a potato masher is not a unitasker. I've used it on potatoes, yes, but find it equally handy for beans, blending crumbly pastry dough, and squashing solids in a soup to thicken it when I don't feel like pulling out my hand blender.
2 - I pretty much never use my ice cream scoop for ice cream, being the "eat it out of the carton" kind. What I do use it for is cupcake batter. An ice cream scoop is perfect for portioning out cupcakes.
3 - One of my oldest gadgets, a Graham Kerr branded "Bash N Chop," basically a bench scraper. I use it for scraping up dough, yes, but it's also handy for crushing garlic, transferring chopped ingredients into a bowl or pan, and cutting bits of dough for rolls or cookies. This one has a ruled edge so you can measure portions accurately.
4 - Spice toasting pan - The screened lid flips up, allowing you to dry-fry whole spices without them popping all over the place. Was it a necessity? No. But it's one of those little things that make life easier...the definition of a gadget, I suppose.
Front Row, left to right:
1 - Spoon holder - This nifty little doodad was in my stocking last Christmas. It's a clip for the side of a pot that holds your cooking spoon up over the pot, so you don't need a spoon rest. It makes it easier to clean the stovetop since, even with a spoon rest, I'm forever leaving spoons on the counter and wiping up puddles of soup.
2 - Tea bag squeezer - Weird, eh? My mother got this back when she was heavy into Tupperware. I don't drink tea, but I do make a lot of things with chai, and this silly little bit of plastic is quite useful in getting the goodness out of the bag. (Yes, I know that when drinking tea you shouldn't squeeze the bags as you'll get bitter tannins in the cup, but this doesn't seem to be a problem with baking.)
3 - Salt cellar - I love, love, love my salt cellar. It is of course the model used by geeky food genius Alton Brown, and it's very practical; the hinged lid can be opened with one hand and the lid has a silicone seal to keep moisture out. The bowl comes out and is dishwasher safe; the base is weighted. It even came with a tiny spoon, which I don't really use, but being a sucker for tiny things (hence all the pinch bowls) I found it quite charming.
Not pictured is my hand blender, a Cuisinart Smart Stick that came with a chopper/grinder attachment and whisk. I realize, of course, that the more things something can do the more likely it is to suck at all of them (if you have experience with copier/fax/scanner/printer machines you can probably testify to this), but in this case it worked out well; the Smart Stick is easy to use, easy to clean, and has thus far performed admirably.
One day when I have a huge kitchen and all the money in the world I'll have a proper Kitchenaid stand mixer and a Vita-Mix blender, but in the meantime, I enjoy my little gadgets and am pleased that they don't take up all that much countertop real estate which is at a premium in my little kitchen.