It's true in the workshop, and it's true in the kitchen: By far and away, the best tools are simple in design, easy to use, and effective in their purpose. Modeled on the timeless, no-nonsense woodworking rasp, the Microplane Classic Series Zester/Grater excels on all counts. In fact, so far as we're concerned, it makes the traditional boxed-style grater seem like a cumbersome waste of drawer space. While the Microplane may not transform zesting and grating into truly enjoyable tasks, it certainly succeeds in making them both a cinch to complete. Available at Amazon; $24.99.
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- 9 Time-Savers You Need for a Hassle-Free Holiday Season
9 Time-Savers You Need for a Hassle-Free Holiday Season
We've all been there: The party's starting but the drinks aren't yet cold. Rather than make your guests wait, consider a rapid beverage chiller. It can chill cans to "refrigerator cold" in 1 minute, and bottles in 3.5 minutes. For ice cold drinks, leave the cans and bottles in the device for double the time. Safe to use for wine or carbonated drinks, this chiller is a cinch to operate. Simply fill with ice and water, plug it in, and set the timer using the keypad. Voila—drinks are ready to serve. Available at Wayfair; $89.99.
Digital Measuring Cup
Here's a tool to cut down on kitchen clutter. With a digital measuring cup like this one, who needs both a kitchen scale and space-stealing measuring cups. This digital measuring cup converts cups to ounces, thereby eliminating guesswork, and giving you back the countertop space you'd otherwise lose to a scale. So whether your holiday recipes call for cups or ounces, you'll only need one tool to measure them all. Available on Amazon; $18.99.
When you need a glass of wine ASAP—or, er, one to hand to the guest who just arrived—don't worry about waiting for the bottle to chill inside your fridge door. Simply uncork, pour a half-cup out, and replace the stopper with a chilled Corkcicle Air. This addition will chill and keep whites cool for up to an hour, and bring warm reds to room temperature in 15 minutes. That sort of instant gratification is well worth stocking at least one in the freezer at all times to use at a moment's notice. Available on Amazon; $22.
Fiskars Fast-prep Kitchen Shears
Cut more than your vegetables, meats, and herbs this holiday meal—slice prep time in half, too, when you use a trusty pair of Fiskars Fast-prep Kitchen Shears. This tool can replace the need for knife and cutting board, even offer better precision than that combination. When you're all set, stick the shears in the dishwasher for your easiest-ever cleanup. Available at Fiskars; $18.
Garlic is must-have ingredient for many holiday dishes, but no one likes to have the scent hanging around on their hands while they mingle with friends and family. Make meal prep a breeze and minimize your contact with this tasty add-in by purchasing a garlic press. Choose a stainless-steel model like this one that minces whole, unpeeled cloves without worry that it will snap or break. Plus it’s dishwasher-safe, making cleanup even easier. Available on Amazon; $30.
Colander and Cutting Board
Let’s face it: Chopping meats, fruits, or veggies on a cutting board isn’t always the most convenient kitchen task, as it requires multiple tools to get the job done. But this multifunctional version makes dinner prep so simple as it transforms from colander, to cutting board, to a chute for channeling chopped food to bowl or cookware. The result is less time bent over the counter, and more time spent with your guests. Available on Amazon; $18.
Gravy is no luxury for Thanksgiving dinner—it's a necessity! Normally, the refrigerator is a perfect solution for separating grease from gravy. But with a houseful of hungry guests, you probably won't have time to let it cool. Keep everyone at the table happy with the Trudeau Gravy Separator. It's safe to reheat in the microwave, so you won't have to transfer containers when it's time to gobble up leftovers. Available on Amazon; $17.
Cutting Board and Knife Sharpener
Dull knives make chopping a serious chore. Not only do they cost you time, but they're actually more dangerous in the kitchen. To speed up prep time, use the ceramic sharpener on this cutting board before you break out the vegetables. Unlike thin plastic cutting boards, this board has non-slip edges for better grip on any countertop, and it's dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup. Available on Amazon; $20.