My 14 year old niece has discovered a passion for cooking. Her goal, at this point in time, seems to be to eventually find a job working for one of the leading cooking magazines in some capacity. I'm thrilled as she seemed to sort of have no direction for a long time, and wasn't the best student so this is a wonderful turn of events to see her being motivated by something no less, an interest which both of us share.
Anyway, I'd like to be able to help her along in some ways. Her and her mom do not get along; in fact she lives with her dad (my brother) full time and has for many years. Money is tight for them and he can't really afford right now to splurge and get her the types of tools that would help her out. He did get her some nice things for the holidays (her first good knife for instance, and a few other things) but if I could round things out for her, I'd love to do it. I even handed her a ton of magazines I finished off today which she had never read before (Fine Cooking, Cooks Illustrated, Saveur, even Bon Appetit).
The thing is I have a lot of tools but have been cooking for so many years that I'm not really sure which of them are the ones which are necessary for a beginner any more. To me, so many of them are things I use consistently on a weekly basis but I'm sure she may not, for instance, find a corn kernel remover as useful lol. And for that matter, there's a lot I don't have - I'm not big on gadgets because I believe in knife work. I usually can chop something faster than it takes to take out some other specialty tool and then have to clean one more thing!
I do know she wants a Microplane (her dad bought her a small zester, which wasn't exactly what she wanted but still can use) so that's on the list for sure. I'd like to get her a good vegetable peeler (or would a paring knife be a better choice?).
So, real basics, Maybe about the 10 most necessary items that would carry her through. And maybe I'll get her that corn zester. I find it invaluable in the summer when I'm making those fritattas that called for a ton of fresh corn kernels in them :p