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Slicing gadgets make chopping vegetables easy

My dad loves gadgets. Especially kitchen gadgets.

I remember being a kid and looking into that oh-so-messy drawer filled with all kinds of weird tools. I blame ol' Pops for my new love of kitchen accessories, and for my own oh-so-messy drawer.

One particular gadget I have grown fond of lately is the slicer. At first, I thought food slicers were silly - why not just use a knife? Once I used one, though, and saw that my carrots were cut with exact precision, I was sold.

The slicer that converted me was the Kyocera Wide Julienne Slicer Mandolin. (I know, it's a mouthful.) It's a simple machine with no attachments or accessories, but several uses. This sucker makes prepping vegetables a breeze. With a few swift motions, the hard ceramic blades convert squash and zucchini into practically perfect matchstick strips. The extra-wide, 1⁄8-inch teeth can churn out strings of vegetables that are great for garnishes and salads. The blades are made of zirconium oxide to stay sharper longer. Retailing for $24.95, the slicer is sold at Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma. Visit www.kyoceraadvancedceramics.com.

OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer is also a veggie chef's dream. The four blades and a height adjuster allow for crinkle cuts, straight slices and julienne strips in a range of thicknesses. Blades are stored on the board and are removable for easy cleaning. A textured surface keeps food from getting stuck in the slicer, and a holder securely grips food and protects your fingers. Nonslip feet and a soft turning knob and handle also ensure safety and comfort. A bonus cubing blade for small or large dicing is included with the slicer. Retailing for $49.99, the slicer is sold at Linens 'n Things, Bed, Bath and Beyond and area home stores.

For smaller food, the Norpro Easy Slicer is ideal. Foods are gently pressed into the gadget's top opening, and sliced by turning the handle. The slicer gives a uniform size to mushrooms, tomatoes, kiwi and most soft produce. It features stainless steel blades, and hand-washing is recommended. Retailing for $14.95, the slicer is sold at area home stores.

The Rival Electric Food Slicer is a little more high-tech. The 75-watt machine whips up deli-style slices in your own kitchen, and can be used for cutting meats, breads, cheeses or vegetables. Ingredients can be cut wafer-thin or extra thick with the thickness-control dial, and the easy-to-clean, removable parts can be folded for storage. Housed in a durable plastic, the 6 1⁄2-inch, stainless steel blade comes with a safety switch and thumb guard for added protection. Retailing for $49.99, the slicer is sold at area home stores.