Thursday, December 2, 2010

$10 Gift Ideas for the Cooks on Your List

I love to cook and bake.  It's not only a hobby but it is a way to bless my family, express my creativity, and relieve stress.

Here are some of my favorite products for about $10 that you might consider for the baker or cook on your holiday gift list:

Penzey's Spices

Penzey's Spices has the freshest and most flavorful spices I have ever used.  This company began in Wisconsin, but they have many locations nationwide now.  They also have a booming mail-order business.  Any of the mini gift boxes above would be a great stocking stuffer.

If you prefer larger bottles of herbs and spices, I am particularly partial to their Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon (so fragrant!) and some of their spice blends for grilling meats (Bicentennial Rub and Galena Street Rib & Chicken Rub are two of my faves).

Microplane Grater

The Microplane grater is a rasp-like device that makes short work of zesting lemons and oranges.  It is also my tool of choice for grating fresh ginger and smaller quantities of parmesan reggiano cheese.  It is razor sharp and comes in different styles for fine, medium, and coarse grating.

Silicone Basting Brush and/or Spatula

One of the best kitchen gadget introductions from a cleanliness standpoint is the silicone basting brush.  I used to hate when the bristles from traditional basting or pastry brushes would shed onto my food or get stuck together like glue.  It all seemed so un-hygenic.  Silicone basting brushes don't shed, are heat resistant, and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.  Love that!  The bristles come in different widths (finer for pastries, thicker for basting), and some versions even have interchangeable heads for both uses.

Similarly, the silicone spatula or spoonula is one of those items that you can never have enough of.  I love the spoonula because the design makes it easier to scrape and transfer batter from the mixing bowl to the baking pan.  And because it's heat resistant, you can also use it when cooking (an example: scrambled eggs).
Magnetic Measuring Spoons

I LOVE these measuring spoons!  They are magnetic so you can either keep them neatly nested in a drawer or stick them to a metal surface.  They are easily separated so you don't have to fumble with (or wash!) the whole set at once. They are two-sided: there is a traditional round end and an elongated oval end which is easier to get into those little spice cans.  Ingenious!  I actually scored my set at TJ Maxx for less than $5!
Garlic Press

This might cost a little more than $10, but it is oh, so worth it.  The bottled and dried versions of garlic have their uses, but for most applications, nothing beats the taste and aroma of fresh garlic.
Pampered Chef garlic press
I have carpal tunnel in my right hand (occupational hazard) and find it hard to squeeze most garlic presses.  I don't have any trouble with the Pampered Chef version.   It is about $16, but you can often find them new on Ebay for less.

Any of these items would be a fine gift for the cook on your list!  Maybe they'll thank you with a nice dinner or dessert!  What are some of YOUR favorite kitchen gadgets?

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