A cheap, pistachio-green model made of plastic, it was absolutely the last thing I wanted. But my gadget-loving mother talked me into taking it, and I finally agreed to give it a try. Turns out Mom was right. I use my mandoline almost every day, for things like slicing carrots or cucumbers for kids\' lunches, making fennel salad or even peeling squash and potatoes before I slice them on the mandoline for making fried chips.
The great secret about mandolines: they don\'t need to be made of stainless steel and cost $150 to be a sharp asset to your kitchen. Kuhn Rikon, a Swiss kitchenware company, makes a mandoline for $20, and so do many others. Check out www.factorydirect2you.com.
Larissa Phillips is an award-winning writer, cooking instructor and food writer for Parenthood.com and Dominion Parenting Media. Email her at FeedingYourFamily@Parenthood.com.