There are a group of perennial gifts that work for all food lovers/cooks. Here’s my list of those that you can pick up fast almost anywhere, but I’ll throw up links to their counterparts on Amazon so you can see what I’m talking about and get other ideas as you browse.
(Full disclosure – if you buy from Amazon or follow one of their links after clicking from my site or something like that, I make a few pennies – thank you. Last year from my Affiliate program, which is open to anyone, I made $116 and change – and turned it into gas for my Meals on Wheels deliveries.)
First and foremost – SHARE YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE and throw in one or two of the ingredients or a tool used to make it. Pass those recipes on – it’s a wonderful legacy – and a great gift. Publishing is never easier than today – you can make and copy a mini-cookbook for everyone on your list, or just print out a few recipes on cards. (Click on the card above or here for recipe card templates.)
DISHTOWELS AND POTHOLDERS: My favorite gifts to give/receive. A good cook goes through these like olive oil through a pour spout. My son, also a cook, and I agree, though, some are better than others. I love Ritz potholders; he likes Williams-Sonoma ribbed-weave dishtowels. A few on my list are getting these – beats underwear!
GOOD QUALITY BAKING SHEET: Buy a heavy half-sheet pan that won’t warp – Nordic Ware has one that’s great. While you’re at it, buy a roll of unbleached parchment paper too. Cooks can stand a roast on it, bake half a batch of cookies in one move, make thin, crispy brownies, pour two batches of brittle or fudge – any number of tasks go faster with a half-sheet size pan.
JAR OF MUSTARD: One of the most-used condiments in my kitchen, mustard’s great for smearing all over a roast (especially pork), whipping up a salad dressing, putting out a as a dip for big soft pretzels (also recommended – Super Bowl’s coming up!) and of course, smearing on a sausage or dog. I have several kinds on hand at all times.
CHEF’S SCRUB: I just wrote about this stuff in the Palm Beach Daily News. I love the scrub from Product Body so much, I gave the company that makes it free ad space on my website. In turn, they’re offering my readers a discount. If you go to their website and type in the code at checkout: jannorris – you get 10 percent off. Their other soaps and scrubs are fabulous, too – but my hands are buttery soft thanks to this scrub. (If you grow your own food, as you should, it’s awesome for cleanup after working in the dirt!)
SWIVEL PEELER: For veggies and fruit, use a swivel peeler. The Y-shaped ones are OK, and good for potatoes, mostly – but these straight bladed swivel ones work fabulous and get it all done. I happen to like both the Zyliss peeler and the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler. It has a serious “eye” remover for digging out the bad spots on fruits, potatoes, et al, and it will peel something as soft as a tomato or peach, too.
GOOD WINE GLASSES: Glasses DO matter when it comes to how we taste wine. Decent glasses are not so expensive as you might think. I like this new set of four from Riedel (it rhymes with needle) – two Cabernet glasses and two Viognier glasses – in layman’s terms, a red and a white, for two. Perfect.
OTHER IDEAS that don’t require going to a mall, and how to package them:
- Gift certificates to a grocery store, cookware shop or gourmet store (don’t forget delis or butcher shops or seafood stores) – tied to the handle of a spatula.
- Subscription to a cooking magazine – wrapped around a rolled up copy of this month’s magazine.
- Gift certificate to a favorite restaurant – wrapped in a nice bundle of white linen napkins, or tied to a fork.
- Gift certificate to a grill store – taped to a bag of wood chips.
- Gift certificate to a cooking class with a personality – taped to the back of a portrait of the instructor.
- Tickets to a food festival – the South Beach Wine and Food Festival is coming up in February. Tie them to a seashell.