Black Friday is in the books, but if you’re like most of us, you still have a lot of shopping to do because the gifts you have bought so far were probably of the easy, low-hanging-fruit variety.
As the shopping days become fewer and the crowds larger, it might be time to step up your game and give some thought to just what you’re going to give those serious cooks on your list (especially if they’ll be making your meals in 2014).
I’ve put together a short list to help you out and hopefully put a smile on the face of your chef this holiday season.
Now, I realize that some of these suggestions may seem obvious, but don’t overlook the fact that they might STILL be just what your cook needs the most.
For example, high-quality pots, pans and knives will always top my kitchen essentials list. Unfortunately, they’re on the expensive side, but don’t feel you have to buy an entire battery of pots and pans or a full set of knives. You can start with one nice pot or knife and build a set as other special occasions come along. They’re GREAT birthday and anniversary gifts too! And if you buy high-quality brands, they’ll last a lifetime.
Be sure to check out my recommendations for pots and pans along with my recommendations on kitchen knives on my blog earlier this year.
Moving on to a few less-expensive gifts, I’ve fallen in love with my Lékué Brand silicone steamer tray, which I use in my microwave oven to stream fresh vegetables, fish and chicken. It’s VERY dishwasher friendly, and for $20 bucks, it’s one of my better buys this year.
Oddly enough, I NEVER seem to have enough tongs and spatulas in my kitchen (and I’m probably not alone). Between what I’m using, what’s in the sink and what’s in the dishwasher, I seem to need at least six at any one time. Besides, if you buy some fun, colorful ones, they almost take the place of a flower arrangement in your kitchen. They’re cheap, and you don’t have to water them.
I’ve blogged this year about some other important kitchen essentials too, so I would be remiss if I didn’t include them on this year’s gift shopping list. One, an insta-read thermometer, and another, decorative (or any) oil and vinegar bottles, which you can use to keep your favorite oils within easy reach of your cook-top. I love the convenience, and they give your kitchen a more gourmet look.
How important is a good thermometer? You’d be surprised. This $10 gift idea can save you a lot of money (and some bad meals). I always have one in my chef coat pocket and at least two within easy reach in my home kitchen. To learn more about why they are one of my top holiday stocking stuffer picks, click here.
And because we have two more holidays coming up where roasts may be on your menu, if the cook on your shopping list doesn’t have a good roasting pan with a rack insert, it’s about time you got him or her one. It will pay large dividends at the dinner table. There are many different brands to choose from, and because your roast really shouldn’t be sitting on the deck of the pan (instead of cradled in the rack above), it’s not essential that you spend a fortune on the luxury model.
Speaking of luxury, there’s nothing luxurious about popcorn. But when it’s as good as the best movie theater’s (or better), it’s about as luxurious a treat as you could wish for this holiday season. And Whirley Pop ™, the maker of one of the best (and most fun) popcorn makers around, has a stove-top model that replicates those theater memories (movie tickets not included). It’s a great gift for anyone in the family!
You’ll find all of these items at Sur La Table or William Sonoma and most at Bed, Bath & Beyond.