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When Gifts Don't 'Register': Shopping For The Kitchen

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Most gift registries focus on the kitchen, and one list I perused recently was no exception. Among the usual pots, flatware and dishes I saw several gadgets: a digital rice cooker, egg slicer and an apple wedger.

I shook my head. After 38 years, I’ve never owned those last three items, but I’ve somehow prepared more than 21,000 meals.

Yes, I remember my own new days in an apartment, and later as a bride in a townhouse in Hickory. We had received my fair share of useless kitchen gifts. A Hot Dogger appliance for cooking – you guessed it – hot dogs. A mixer that took up a third of my precious counter space, a crepe maker that was used maybe once.

Cooking rice isn’t rocket science. Toss a cup of dry rice and two cups of salted water in a pot, bring to a boil, place the lid on top and turn off the heat. The rice will work its magic.

Egg slicing and apple wedging? A simple paring knife will do the job.

The last thing one needs in a cramped apartment – or really, in any kitchen – is bulky, single-use appliances. The same goes for gadgets that will spend the rest of their life in the back of the drawer.

Here are my kitchen must-haves:

·         A set of quality stainless pots and pans with handles that don’t conduct heat. I like my Wolfgang Puck set, but they have metal handles. Ouch! I still reach for my tried-and-true Revere Ware.

·         A 10-inch seasoned iron skillet. Keep it out of the dishwater and it will last generations.

·         A sturdy cookie sheet that won’t rust into oblivion. Use it for cookies, biscuits, rolls, pizza. Yes, pizza can be made square.

·         A stain-resistant white table cloth. You need this. Trust me.

·         A large picnic basket with a removable shelf. This practical wedding present has accompanied us to potlucks, progressive dinners and even picnics. And it doubles as a storage container.

·         A sturdy electric food processor to slice, dice, shred and whip. My workhorse model is 30 years old and still going strong.

·         A basic cookbook. I’ve worn out my old standby – the orange Betty Crocker binder cookbook. A thoughtful gift is cooking lessons.

·         And finally, a nice flower vase. Nothing says elegance like fresh blooms on the table.