in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gift Giving Season

Isn't it fun getting a gift for someone you care about knowing they are going to absolutely love it? If you want to get a gift for a foodie anytime soon, here are some suggestions. These are a dozen implements that I use several times each week. Any budding cook would appreciate them; any experienced cook would also appreciate them (even if they already own one, a new one or a better one would still be nice to receive.) 
12:00 -- A good chef's knife. One that can be sharpened at home with a wet stone. The handle should be shaped well and solid but not too heavy. This one is from Tupperware, was part of a set given to me and I have loved it.
1:00 -- A good paring knife. For smaller, finer tasks, this knife is a real work horse. Again one that can be kept sharp with a wet stone is great. This is also from Tupperware and is used again and again at my house. (Note: I also received several other knives in this set, a smaller paring knife, large and small serrated knives and they are all great but I've only included the two a cook really needs--get more if you can afford them!)
2:00 -- Tongs. Very useful for a multitude of things from sauteing spinach to searing meat to boiling bagels. Some have silicone tips but I have found that the plain old stainless ones work just fine. This is one of two I own, the other is longer. I find I use the short ones most often. Available in any grocery or cookware store.
3:00 -- Vegetable peeler. I have three of this style of peeler. They fit in the palm of your hand and are a cinch to use. Light pressure peels just the dark green skin off a cucumber and harder pressure gives you lovely carrot strips to curl. A potato can be ready for boiling in short order. Warning: some cooks don't like the feel of the palm held implement and prefer a traditional shape for their peelers. Available in any cookware store and a few grocery stores.
4:00 -- Pancake turner. We called them spatulas growing up. A cook needs one or two and this particular one is not vented, stainless and very thin, flexible. It easily slips under cookies, a burger, an egg or pancakes. I love it for making omelets. Available lots of places, just look for a thin, flexible blade.
5:00 -- Silicone spoon. For all kinds of jobs, silicone is fabulous. This solid feeling spoon stirs boiling concoctions with ease and can be left in a pot because it won't heat up. The squared design allows for contact to the pan sides and bottom, useful for candy making, custards, deglazing and sauteing among other things. I bought this Chef'n brand spoon/scrapper at the grocery store; they are available at cookware stores, too.
6:00 -- Folding grater. Double sided, this folding grater is easily stored. It is stainless with a composite frame. One large grating surface and one finer, it is a go to for cheeses and veggies. Available in most grocery stores as well as cookware stores.
7:00 -- Silicone rubber scraper. Great for baking because of the concave surface, I have loved this tool when making batters or doughs of any kind. This particular one is versatile due to the nature of silicone. It can take the heat. I have used it on the stove top and when adding hot syrups to other ingredients. If you only have one scrapper, this is the one to have. It came in a set with a smaller one and that one is good for reaching the last of the jam in a jar. This one was purchased at an outlet cookware store.
8:00 -- Can opener. For several years, I had an electric can opener. When it broke, I used a stainless opener that was pretty old fashioned and it stank! This new one is a composite material and locks shut, is easy to turn and utterly fabulous. It is OXO brand and available at most grocery stores.
9:00 -- Microplane. Love this tool! Grating fresh ginger root or whole nutmeg, zesting citrus, grating Romano cheese to finish a pasta dish and more. It is used nearly everyday in my kitchen. I purchased mine at a cookware store but they may be available in your local grocery store.
10:00 -- Flat wire whisk. Great for blending any dry ingredient into a wet one. Whips an egg quickly, mixes dry ingredients together, is tops for heating milk, stirring candy syrups or anything that needs constant stirring while cooking. Sauce making gets easier and produces better results with a flat wire whisk. I got two from Pampered Chef and eventually gave one to my daughter. But I don't see it in the Pampered Chef collection any longer. They are still available at good cookware stores.
11:00 -- Bamboo spoon. Slotted or solid, rounded or squared, concave or flat, these spoons replace the old wooden spoons of yesteryear. I have really enjoyed the set I purchased and use them for stir frying, sauteing, mixing and sometimes for serving. Relatively inexpensive and available at cookware stores.

Well, that is a round up of the most oft used implements in my kitchen. Some I have had for over 30 years and some are much newer. My hope is that you find something you would like to give to a friend and/or something you could give as a suggestion to friend looking to give you a gift. Happy cooking!

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