Braun Culinary Series Variable Speed Hand Blender and Chopper
* Blend, chop, and whip a wide range of foods
* Includes handblender, chopper attachment, wire whisk, and mixing beaker
* 280-watt motor has five speed options
* Convenient wall mount provides storage for blender
* One-year warranty

This handblender is a wonderfully convenient kitchen tool and will be used often in busy households. As a blender, it inserts into any bowl or pan or can be used with the included mixing beaker to swiftly purée soups or baby foods or blend the perfect cocktail. As a chopper, it minces a handful of parsley in 15 seconds and makes breadcrumbs from bread rolls in 30. Attach the wire whip to make whipped cream or meringues. For so many everyday tasks, this blender is a great choice--all the parts fit together well and work smoothly--and it is easily stored off the counter, on the included wall mount. --Maria Dolan

Villaware Fruit and Vegetable Strainer
* Stainless-steel construction
* Manual crank system
* Replaces peeling and coring
* Assembly required
* Wash all parts in hot, soapy water

The first taste of smooth, fresh, homemade applesauce is a memory one can never forget. This food strainer--a time- and effort-saver that eliminates the need to peel, core, or remove seeds--makes it easy to recreate that sauce at home with little work involved. It's also nice for making homemade baby food, eliminating concerns about preservatives, and other items you don't want your baby to consume that may be present in commercial-brand baby foods. The manufacturer has also included several recipes and useful ideas.
In addition, several attachments can be purchased separately, including strainer/screens for berries, pumpkins and squashes, salsa, and grapes, as well as an electric motor, which would eliminate the need to manually turn the crank. --Teresa Simanton

Sabatier Grand Chef 10-Piece Knife Set in Glass Block
* 100% fully forged cutlery
* High carbon stainless steel
* Full tang triple rivet handle for strength and durability
* Made in France using centuries old methods
* Perfectly balanced for safe and precise slicing

Sabatier Provence Tomato Knife
* Ideal for slicing tomatoes or muffins
* High-carbon stainless-steel blade, full tang and bolster
* Riveted wood-laminate handle
* Hand wash
* Made in France

Along with a chef's knife, a small, serrated utility knife becomes a regular kitchen companion, especially in the summer, when there's a bounty of fresh tomatoes, peaches, and other juicy fruits and vegetables. Perfect for slicing without squashing, its sharp-edged serrations slice right through soft breads as well--it's perfect for biscuits or English muffins. While the manufacturer suggests use with bagels, we didn't find the knife large enough to make it a practical choice for such chewy bread. The chunky wood-laminate handle is attractive and comfortable and, like all Sabatier knives, requires hand washing. As the serrations are quite sharp, use a nylon bristle brush for best results--soft sponges or cloths will tear easily. --Jill Lightner

Hoffritz Stainless Steel Mandoline
* Mandoline slices and shreds potatoes and other vegetables
* Includes cutting slide, stainless-steel bowl, plastic lid, and four slicers
* Slicers include thin slice, thick slice, julienne, and french-fry cutter
* Dishwasher-safe
* Lifetime limited warranty

This professional mandoline slicer for slicing and shredding potatoes and other vegetables comes with everything you need: a 4-quart stainless-steel bowl, a plastic storage lid, four interchangeable cutting blade cartridges, and a cutting slide with a safety guard. Just slide in the cartridge you need--thin slice, thick slice, julienne (1/8-inch), or french-fry cutter (1/4-inch)--press the safety guard with sharp prongs onto the end of the vegetable, and slice away. The safety guard rests on side rails over the blade so your hand can't slip, and the entire cutting slide apparatus snaps onto the top of the bowl. The stainless-steel bowl has four rubber grippers underneath so it won't slide while you're slicing. Pop the plastic storage lid on top and put leftovers in the fridge. Every part of the mandoline slicer, including the cutting blades, is dishwasher-safe. Lifetime limited warranty. --Doree Armstrong

OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner
* Fun, simple operation requires only one hand
* Nonslip knob is soft and cushioned; brake button stops spinning with a fingertip
* Great for washing and drying lettuce, herbs, greens
* Plunge-style knob locks down for easy storage
* Dishwasher-safe on top rack

Washing and drying leafy vegetables has never been simpler or more fun than with this gadget. One hand is all you need to press the soft, cushioned knob to start the spinning; when the built-in brake is applied and the job is done, the basket and bowl can be taken apart and used separately. The knob locks down for easy storage, and the spinner is dishwasher-safe. Use this tool with lettuce, raw spinach, broad-leafed herbs, and greens--they end up clean and oh-so-dry, and the drier your leaves, the better salad dressings will adhere and the less mushy your sandwich bread will become. Puddles at the bottom of your salad bowl disappear... Good Grips products are moderately priced and have won the Tylenol/Arthritis Foundation Design Award. --Laurie Notaro

Norpro Stainless Steel Large-Capacity Expandable Vegetable Steamer
* Diameter of large-capacity vegetable steamer expands from 7 inches to 10 inches
* No center post means extra room for more food, easier scooping
* Two side-handle loops for lifting
* Made of heavy-duty stainless steel with a three-pronged base
* Dishwasher-saf

It's less what it includes than what it lacks that makes this Norpro vegetable steamer a cut above your average steamer insert. Without a bothersome center post, there is plenty of unobstructed room to steam entire heads of broccoli or cauliflower or full-length cobs of corn--and finished vegetables are easier to remove with a spoon or a spatula as denser veggies keep steaming. No need to slice carrots or pole beans beforehand--just plop them whole into the basket, which expands from 7 to 10 inches, depending on the size of the pot you set it in.

The three-pronged base provides stability equal to models with center posts, but instead of one central handle there are two ring-style side handles. This is another improvement, as you don't need to reach into the middle of the steaming-hot food to remove the basket, and using the side handles supports the basket's shape rather than allowing its "petals" to pop open flat upon lifting. The heavy-duty waffled segments hold tightly together during use and fold inward for compact storage. --Carol Gnojewski

Weber Vegetable Holder
* Bright nickel-plated steel
* Conserve grilling space
* Speeds up vegetable cooking time

Just imagine sweet summer corn-on-the-cob or a savory potato tucked into this vegetable holder, and wait for your mouth to start watering. Crafted from nickel-plated steel, the holder is designed to cook your veggies faster while taking up less grill space.

Hoffritz Stainless Steel Vegetable Brush
* Stiff plastic bristles scrub potatoes and other vegetables
* Tough plastic head has wedge for scraping off blemishes
* Durable construction, with satin-finish stainless-steel handle
* 9 inches long
* Dishwasher-safe

For scrubbing potatoes before they go into the oven to be baked and for cleaning carrots, beets, and turnips, a tough little brush is essential. With its stiff plastic bristles and easy-grip, stainless-steel, oval handle, this one fits the bill. Better still, its durable plastic head includes a wedge for scraping off or digging out blemishes. Between uses, hang it on a hook or peg from the hole in its handle. --Fred Brack

Microplane Fine Grater
* Recommended for puréeing garlic, onion, and ginger
* Stainless-steel surface, plastic handle
* Razor-sharp cutters
* Dishwasher-safe
* Made in USA

For finely minced garlic or ginger this is the perfect grater. The cutters are especially sharp, which guarantees easy grating. But this also means you'll need to exercise extra caution--no one likes grated knuckles. For ease in resting the grater on the counter while in use, there's a hard acrylic frame around the metal. The frame also prevents scratches to your countertop. The large handle allows for a firm grip, and the slightly curved grating surface makes it easy to use with oddly shaped chunks of ginger or garlic cloves. It's also an excellent choice for microshreds of citrus zest. --Jill Lightner

Metrokane Deluxe Rabbit with Foilcutter
* Strikingly designed, easy-to-use, powerful wine-cork puller
* Ruggedly constructed of polycarbonate and reinforced nylon
* Foil cutter and hinge-top storage case included
* 2-year warranty against failure
* For each purchase of this item, $4 is donated to Share Our Strength

A great gift for wine lovers, this powerful tool effortlessly extracts the cork from any wine bottle with simple lever action. Gripping handles clamp on a bottle's neck; pushing down the lever drives the tough corkscrew into the cork, and raising the lever pulls the cork out cleanly. Releasing the cork from the screw involves the same action, only with the gripping handles clamped on the cork. Ruggedly constructed of polycarbonate and reinforced nylon, the cork puller has the heft of a fine, precise high-tech tool. The device comes by the Rabbit name because its gripping handles and lever resemble ears and the gear's housing resembles a bunny's head. Accompanying the cork puller is a foil cutter that strips away the foil covering a cork. Both the cork puller and foil cutter fit into a handsome storage case with a hinged lid. The cork puller carries a two-year warranty against failure. --Fred Brack

The Frugal Gourmet: Vegetables with Class (VHS)

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3 1/2-Quart Stainless Steel Asparagus/Vegetable Steamer
* 3 1/2 QT capacity steamer for vegetables
* Vertical shape ideal for long vegetables like asparagus and corn

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