We read a recent Public Radio Kitchen article on what NOT to get the cook, and snickered a bit. Indeed, who needs another strange uni-tasking gadget to clutter the drawers? Or the latest gimmicky cookbook? No thanks. But there are some timeless, practical, budget-friendly tools that are ALWAYS welcome, to a cook. One can never have too many spatulas, after all. Here are our picks for tools and cookware that are solid, practical, and always a delight to receive. (Happily, most of these are budget-friendly, too.) For your full reading pleasure, here's the whole article on what NOT to get the cook, too!
• What NOT to Get the Cook on Your List at Public Radio Kitchen
Of course, this whole list is just a collection of suggestions that may or may not fit the needs and desires of any given cook. The really important thing in gift-giving is to think about what someone needs and wants, and proceed accordingly. Having said that, these are just a few classic, always-useful items that are quite likely to be helpful in a cook's kitchen.
Cutting Board or Wood Board - One can never have too many cutting boards, especially handsome ones like this Footed Platte Cutting Board in Rock Maple. $35 from Gray Works Design.
Solid Metal Measuring Cups - These are on my own Christmas list this year! I want to dump my old plastic cups for a solid, handsome set of measuring cups. $18.50 at Lee Valley.
Modern, Pretty Trivet - When I go to serve meals, I always feel as if I run out of trivets and hot pads for hot dishes. What about a modern, pretty trivet that will hold a hot dish. (Within your recipient's sense of style, of course!) This bamboo trivet is $12 from Oryx and Crake.
Stainless-Steel Kitchen Shears - A solid pair of kitchen shears is invaluable, and many people don't have a pair. These are $22.50 at Lee Valley.
Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer - I know I always add a mandoline to these lists, but seriously. These things are awesome. I don't know what I would do without mine - it's great for salads and every other slicing job. $19.90 at Amazon.
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven - This is a bit more splurgey, but what cook doesn't want a heavy Dutch oven for stews and braises? I have three and use them constantly. If I had an extra shelf I'd be asking for another one for Christmas! This Lodge version is $77 at Amazon (and frequently goes on sale for less).
Specialty Whisks - Everyone has a balloon whisk (right?) but these specialty whisks can come in so handy, and they don't take up much room in a utensil jar. Frosted Flat Whisk, $14; Rösle® Twirl Whisk, $20; Bubble Whisk, $16 - all at Sur La Table.
Silicone Bowl Scraper Spatula - I love these things. They take up no room in a drawer, and scraping a dough bowl perfectly clean takes much less effort and time. $5.95 at Sur La Table.
Rösle® Potato Fork - Paule Caillat says she uses this more than almost any other tool in her lovely kitchen. It's great for picking up potatoes out of a hot pot, checking chicken, holding the meat while you slice it... a hundred tiny uses that add up into a really helpful tool. $23 at Sur La Table.
A Modern, Elegant Baking Pan - 9x13 pans are perhaps the most-used pans in the kitchen. Cookies, cakes, casseroles, lasagna — the uses are endless and varied. So what about one very nice, table-friendly dish like this modern Slate baker from Emile Henry's Urban line. $46.85.
Here is a similar list from a previous gift guide:
• 15 Really Useful Kitchen Items for Your Favorite Cooks
Here are a few more lists of kitchen favorites from our team:
• Ten Most-Used: Faith's Favorite Kitchen Tools
• Ten Most-Used: Sara Kate's Favorite Kitchen Tools
• Ten Most-Used: Emily's Favorite Kitchen Tools
What's on YOUR holiday wishlist this year? Any practical presents destined for long-term use?
Related: The Top 10 Most Useful Kitchen Gadgets
(Images: Gray Works Design; Lee Valley; Oryx and Crake; Lee Valley; Amazon; Lodge/Amazon; Sur La Table; Faith Durand; Emile Henry)