Before they settle down in their little cottage for two, newlyweds would do well to start out with a good set of knives and decide who's going to be boss in the kitchen each day.
The knives have nothing to do with settling quarrels, of course. But according to author and food expert Cornelius O'Donnell, if the bride and bridegroom don't start out with good knives, they'll never learn to be good cooks.
"The No. 1 wedding gift for the kitchen is a set of good knives," says O'Donnell.
"You don't need a lot of knives: just an eight- to 10-inch cook's knife; a smaller utility knife, such as a three- to four-inch paring knife, and a knife with a serrated edge for cutting bread. The bread knife is just right for slicing tomatoes or other foods that are difficult to cut.
"You can get along just fine with those three basic ones, and a carving or slicing knife would be a nice thing to have, but is not essential," explains O'Donnell, spokesman for the Consumer Products Division of the Corning Glass Works.
The problem of the two-cook kitchen is easily solved by dividing the chores, he says.
"Where is it written that the woman must do all the work in the kitchen?" asks O'Donnell. "Creating meals together should work well and can be fun--as long as one person is designated as boss one night and the other takes command the next."
The in-charge cook should be responsible for shopping and running things in the kitchen, keeping tabs on the timing and barking out orders. While one chops the vegetables and sautes them, for example, the other can brown the meat. The next night, the roles are reversed.
In his travels around the country demonstrating cookware, O'Donnell found that cooking is "in," while prepackaged, plastic food and the can-opener school of culinary art are "out."
However, when both husband and wife are working, the answer to busy schedules can be microwave cooking, he says, adding that most recipes for six people or less cook two to four times faster than in conventional cooking, and use 50% to 85% less energy doing the job.