I've been on a cooking kick lately. I've made salmon, chicken, and even homemade pasta. I'm not sure why I've been so into it lately, but hey, my family isn't complaining. But during my time in the kitchen, I've come across tools that I have had absolutely no idea what to do with.

I figured, why not look up these kitchen utensils and what they're made for because it will probably make my time in the kitchen a lot easier. Here's what I found:

1. Baster

This giant-sized tool is called a baster. It's essentially a massive eye-dropper. These bad boys are used to suck up the juices, gravy or other drippings from a pan of roasting meat and squirted on top of it to keep it from getting too dry.

2. Pastry Blender

This medieval torture device-looking object is called a pastry blender. It's used to mix a solid like butter into flour to make, you guessed it, pastries. This beats using your hands, where you run the risk of melting the butter too much. 

3. Springform Pan

"Why does this pan have a latch on the side?" you ask. "To make cheesecakes." I answer. It is also used for baking tortes or other pastries that might have a graham cracker crumb crust that makes it hard to take out of a regular pan. The bottom is able to separate from the sides, making removal a breeze. 

4. Mezzaluna

"Mezzaluna" means "half moon" in Italian, so it's no surprise that this is a frequent tool in Italian cooking. This crescent-shaped knife is used for chopping and mincing herbs (think homemade pesto), but can also be used for meat and cheese.

5. Kitchen Knives

Speaking of knives, there are tons of different kinds. Chef's, paring, serrated, and tomato are just a few. They are probably one of the most widely used kitchen utensils, but many people don't know the difference between them. Read this great guide to knowing when to use each type of knife.

6. Honing Steel

Okay, last knife-related utensil on this list, I promise. But this one isn't as obvious as the video above might appear. Many people think that honing steels sharpen knives when they are actually used to realign the blades that start to curl with normal use. 

7. Mesh Strainer

Don't worry, I'm not underestimating your intelligence. I know you know what a strainer does. But I had no idea what its kitchen-specific uses were. It turns out not only can you keep the seeds out of lemon juice and make sure there are no clumps in your flour, but you can also make poached eggs, purées, and cheeses. Who knew strainers were so versatile?

8. Mandoline

Proceed with caution if you're going to use one of these. While mandolines are super useful for slicing and julienning food, it is unfortunately very easy to slice a finger as well. Some have attachments that allow for crinkle, dice, and even waffle cuts.

So the next time you step into the kitchen, don't be intimidated by any of these tools. They're made to make cooking easier and now you know how to use them like a pro. Happy cooking, my fellow amateur chefs.