Spoonulas - I would get rid of almost every other cooking tool I own as long as I got to keep my spoonulas. Most of mine come from Williams-Sonoma. They are sturdy and some are in fun colors and can be used for just about anything on any pan. They stir, they scrape, they fold, they don't scratch non-stick, and they usually serve well, too. If you don't have one, let me know. You will receive one for the next appropriate gift-giving holiday!
Titanium Chef's knife - I have generally always been nervous about large knives. I was afraid of cutting myself or not controlling them, or something. Because of this, I never had a good chef's knife until we got our titanium knife set as a wedding gift. Again, this is my perfect all-purpose knife because I am now very comfortable using it and it will do any job! I never understood the importance of GOOD knives until I got some. Now you will have to kill me to get them out of my kitchen.
All-Clad Stainless Steel - All my pots and pans are All-Clad stainless. It's what most restaurants use. Yes, it is very heavy. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, I love it to bits. Yes, stuff is more likely to stick, but it cooks beautifully. And all those "stuck" bits are YUMMY. I have learned lots of great new techniques to take advantage of the way it cooks. My chef's pan (large, high sides, helper handle on the end) is my favorite at the moment, but I also REALLY want a dutch oven.
Land O Lakes Butter - It's just one of those things you need to ALWAYS have in your kitchen. Right along with good spices, swanson low sodium chicken stock, onions, and garlic.
Large liquid measuring cup - When I say large I'm talking 4 or more cups each. You know the ones I'm talking about, they look like a small pitcher! I have at least two right now. One is metal and I generally use it just for measuring. One is plastic and often serves as a small mixing bowl. I can measure stuff as I add it without having to dirty other stuff. The one I have now cost me $1 at target. It was recently warped in the dishwasher, but still works pretty well. It's the perfect thing for mixing batter (especially pancakes!) because it's so easy to pour and there's very little scraping involved at the end.
Mini Tools - Yes, I have always had a special affection for things that are miniature sized. But these are fantastic because they serve a purpose. Mini spatulas are perfect for scraping out small containers like mayo or peanut butter where a big spatula won't fit. Mini whisks are perfect for making sauces and gravies because they get out even the tiny lumps. Mini spatulas are perfect for cookies or tiny pancakes because you can pick up one without disturbing the whole pan. It may take a little longer to use them, but the results are usually worth it!
I have decided that I'm slightly desperate for attention, so I want everyone who reads this to comment with at least one of their favorite things for each category. If you don't do much cooking your favorite thing in the kitchen may be the microwave or the phone, but I still want to hear about it!