Best Products: The Microplane

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Indispensible Once you use a Microplane in your kitchen - first use: grating parmesan cheese over pasta - you will be hooked. You will buy others with different gradations and you may even give them as presents.

The story is even better. Designed in 1990 as a wood file, but using the sharp ability of hundreds of tiny razors - a la Gillette's Mach III - it was sold by Lee Valley Tools - FYI a great resource. Then, one day,

in 1994, Lorraine Lee, a homemaker in Ottawa, Canada, was making an Armenian orange cake. Out of frustration with her old grater, she picked up a new tool her husband, Leonard, had brought home from their hardware store, Lee Valley Tools. She slid the orange across its blades and was amazed. Lacy shards of zest fell from its surface like snowflakes. The Lees marveled at the tool, ate the cake, then promptly changed the product description in their catalogue.

Microplane now makes graters for kitchen, personal care, surgical uses AND woodshop. Kitchen graters can be found in many stores for @ $13 each, or online at places like Cutlery and More. MGR

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.