You know how it is to get started on something and realize that you have forgotten something. It usually never fails that when you are taking a trip, going to the store, or working on some special project you usually forget a couple of items. Well maybe its just me, but let me tell you sometimes the reminder comes at the most inopportune time about the item you forgot. I would like to discuss some of the basic tools for the backyard cook. Heat Resistant Gloves These are great when cooking on large cookers and you need to move large pieces of meats such as shoulders, butts and briskets. Generally speaking tongs and forks can't handle the pressure and you don't need to pierce the meat if possible. Disposable Gloves I love working with latex gloves. If you're allergic to latex then get nypex. They are available at your local pharmacy. They're excellent in preventing the spread of bacteria. Mops and Brushes They look just like little mops. Cotton string dish mops work great for basting. For smaller pieces of meat such as ribs, chicken, and chops I would rather use a pastry brush. Clean them after each use and they will last you a long time. In the case of mops it's best to clean them in boiling water. Instant Read Thermometer The absolute best way to determine if your meat is ready is to use an instant read thermometer. There are all kinds available, just find one you like, learn the internal readiness temperatures of your meat, and use it. There are some new ones available that will allow you to probe the meat for the entire cooking process and will alert you when the internal temperature reaches a desired setting. Wire Brush Keep your cooking surfaces and grates clean. Its best to clean right after cooking or just before when the grill is hot. This also helps to prevent grate fires. Apron It may feel funny at first but it won't take you long to know why people use them. Disposable Aluminum Pans These are great. They won't stain and they can be used for drip pans as well as holding water when you want to add moisture to you cooking. Tongs A good set of tongs go a long way. Good metal tongs that is, those plastic one can easily melt when moving cuts of meat on the grill. Portable Grates These are the kinds of grates you cook fish and vegetables with. They can also be used to cook large pieces of meat to make it easy to move them on the grill. You can find them with your grilling accessories at the local store. Gimme Caps These are the caps people give you that you don't like wearing, you know the kind that make you head look too big or too small? Put one on when cooking. It will come in particularly handy when you forget you gloves or paper towels. Plastic Storage Container Your local store has a variety of plastic storage containers that can house all the items above neatly. Certain metal containers react with acids such as lemon juice and can cause discoloration in foods. Start collecting a few of these items now and you will be ready for spring, or maybe you're like me and you cook all year long and they would come in handy now. In any case these items can make your cooking much easier and more enjoyable.