The holidays are a favorite time of year for those who cook, and Christmas is an excellent time to consider getting the cook in your life a kitchen gift to enjoy and use for years to come.
“While some people may think of getting a kitchen gift for Christmas as not particularly romantic, the fact is serious or aspiring cooks don’t mind – and might even prefer – getting something practical and useful to make their meal preparation easier and more enjoyable,” said Odessa Keenan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program assistant for the agency’s Healthy Texas program.
Keenan said there is a wide variety of kitchen appliances, tools, gadgets and other items of different types, designs and costs, so it’s important to identify just what is needed and determine how much you are willing to spend.
“Another thing to consider is if you can and want to personalize the gift in some way, such as gifting a wooden cutting board with the person’s name or initials on it,” she said. “There are also some colorful, interesting and fun versions of kitchen utensils or tools out there that may appeal to your cook’s personality or sense of style.”
Small Kitchen Appliances/Gadgets
Keenan said there several small kitchen appliances and gadgets made to save time, perform specialized tasks and/or take some of the drudgery out of meal preparation.
“This might be a good time to get your cook a new gadget or possibly upgrade one that has seen better days,” Keenan said. “If you know of some foods he or she cooks on a regular basis and there’s an appliance or gadget you know of that can help prepare or cook these more efficiently or effectively, that might be a good choice for a gift.
“And if a cook you know has expressed an interest in learning how to make something new or different — or possibly cook more healthful foods — there’s probably a small appliance or gadget that can help fill the bill.”
Some small appliances and gadgets Keenan said might make good gifts include:
Food Preparation Tools
“Food preparation can be time-consuming and frustrating if you don’t have the right tools in your kitchen,” Keenan said. “There are a variety of specialized items out there to help the chef in your life cut, chop, flatten, strip, debone, tenderize, shred, spin, core and more.”
Keenan added with more cooks also focusing on how their food looks and how it is presented to their guests, even more specialized tools may be required for their preparation. Preparation tools can also help cooks keep holiday meals healthy.
Some of the items she suggested as possible gifts for food preparation are:
Silicone baking mat
Meat tenderizing tool
Stackable measuring cups
Shredder claws for meats
“Some foods, like lasagna, casseroles, pot roasts, whole turkeys, pies and cobblers, may require more specialized cookware, but a good mix of different sizes of pots and pans are a cook’s workhorses,” Keenan said. “Also, some cooks prefer specific brands or surfaces, so it’s important you do your homework before buying cookware for someone else. However, a good quality non-stick skillet or some practical items to help make cooking less messy would generally be welcomed by the chef and/or the dishwasher.”
She said some cooking items to consider for gifting are:
Cast iron skillet
Glass or stoneware baking dishes
Aluminum baking sheets
Food Safety Items
Keenan said food safety is an important but sometimes overlooked aspect of cooking.
“Along with proper nutrition and diet, our agency provides information and instruction on food safety,” she said. “There are various stages in food preparation, cooking and storage where germs and bacteria can proliferate and potentially cause foodborne illness.”
Keenan said keeping utensils and hands clean, ensuring meats and other foods are adequately cooked and avoiding cross-contamination are all vital to keep food safe for consumption.
She said some items related to food safety for the cook are:
Wooden cutting board sanitizer
Vacuum-seal food storage system
Multi-colored cutting boards to keep raw meats and veggies separate
“There are a number of more generic, yet still useful, gifts you may want to consider as well,” Keenan said. “Choose a cookbook you know will interest him or her, or get utilitarian items you feel more comfortable with giving and think will get some use.”
She said the Dinner Tonight Essentials Cookbook has more than 100 easy-to-prepare recipes with a minimum of 10% of the recommended daily value of one or more nutrients often lacking in the American diet.
She said some additional gifts to consider might be:
Universal pot lid
“Of course, if you have a cook who has a flair for pushing the boundaries of cooking, you may want to consider a molecular gastronomy kit,” she said. “This kit combines cooking and chemistry, letting you turn your kitchen into a sort of food lab where you can experiment with different tastes and even transform how your food looks and feels.”
Many smaller kitchen tools and items can be used as stocking stuffers, Keenan said.
“Due to their smaller size and shape, there are a number of items that will fit nicely into a Christmas stocking,” she said. “One of the most simple and useful kitchen items is an oven rack pull-stick, which allows you to easily and safely pull the rack from your oven or toaster oven and then put it back into place. And a meat thermometer is the right size and shape, along with being a must-have for the kitchen.”
Keenan said other stocking stuffers might include:
Gourmet salts, sugars or spices
Oven rack pull-stick
“The possibilities for gifts to give the cook in your life are many and varied,” Keenan said. “But so long as whatever you choose will be of use to them and they see you took the time to find something they really wanted, they’ll appreciate the gift.”