[Photograph: epicureancs.com]

We demand a lot of our most basic kitchen tools—wooden spoons, slotted spoons, spatulas, and flippers are used for anything and everything when we cook. It's strange to think that they've rarely evolved to better suit the hundreds of functions we employ them with, but that's just what Epicurean's gourmet series of utensils sets out to do. Without compromising the integrity of the tools we love and abuse, they've built in some extra features that add precision, control, and even more functionality.

I'm a big fan of their ladle ($8.95 at Cooking.com)—it's marked with 1/8 cup, 1/4 cup, and 1/2 cup markings that guide your little-by-little liquid additions for things like risotto and soups. Three little holes at its end allow for easy straining—exactly what you need when you want one more matzo ball and no more broth in that last bowl of soup.

Their pasta server ($7.95 at Cooking.com) is strangely fun to use, too. In the middle, three holes provide portion sizes for spaghetti, and a nib towards the top of the spoon lets you catch individual strands to taste for doneness—no slipping!

Each of the utensils features a heat resistant nylon end attached to a wood composite handle—it's an eco-friendly option that's less prone to warping, but admittedly some people will object to it. Regardless, they're gentle enough for non-stick pans, and handle comfortably with a good weight and thickness.

Should you run out and buy them? Price can range from $8 to $13 per utensil, depending on the piece and the seller; although your whole set of wooden or metal tools will cost just as much, these prove to be durable and hyper-functional. I certainly enjoy mine, and recommend them for one-by-one purchase or replacement of old tools. At the end of the day, they're definitely not the kind of tools that will sit around unused.


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