When Mark Bittman is on the money, he is on the money, and today he devotes his Minimalist column in the New York Times to excellent advice about how to equip a kitchen quite adequately for $200, $300 if you want to add some nice-to-haves. I myself always fall for the good looking/prestigious temptations, and yet I reach for my old Farberware over my All-Clad more often than not, and get tons of use out of the sheet pans we got at Costco 9 years ago.
Contrary to Bittman's view, a bread machine is nearly indispensable in my house, because Mr. Gateau has perfected his whole wheat bread recipe and hasn't missed a week in at least five years. I know Bittman insists you can just as easily learn to make your own bread by hand, but with our non-freelance-writer schedules, there is a big difference between dumping some ingredients in and letting a machine do the rest, and going through kneadings, punching-downs, and baking.
And once in a while I do pick up nifty equipment recommendations from watching TV chefs. After watching Nigella Lawson quickly mince herbs with a mezzaluna, I got one, and find it incredibly useful for herbs, garlic, and other items I may want in a fine mince (such as shallots for Mark Bittman's awesome vinegar chicken recipe).
Top tips from today's column: get a good pair of tongs (I love tongs!) and don't bother buying more than one pot lid, as it's a hassle to hunt down the correct size one and you can just use the same one or a plate or whatever anyway.