Thanksgiving's passing was the signal to flip on your holiday spirit, which includes finalizing your gift list.
Today, we've got some ideas on how best to gift the ones whose hearts lie in the kitchen. Next week we'll have some ideas for edible gifts, but today is about gadgetry, recipe collections and cooking devices.
If the person on your list expresses his/her passion by honing his/her culinary skills, then kitchen gadgetry is a guilty pleasure. A true gourmet sticks to fresh ingredients, which often require extra work to distill the needed flavors. Devices that mince garlic or impart razor-thin slices of onions or tomatoes might display lack of technical expertise, but in a good loving home there's no one keeping score on how supper came together.
In the tech-fueled, daily time trial that is modern life, the cook you kiss needs help. Pinch bowls, spoon holders, wooden spoons, hot-pot holders, rubber spatulas, colanders and strainers are used or needed practically every time a meal is prepared.
Such items never go out of gifting style because the cook can never have enough of them or is ready to replace the old.
As for recipes, cookbooks never go out of style. However, if you're buying a smartphone or tablet for your favorite cook, be sure to load it with useful kitchen apps.
Where to shop
If you really want to make an impression, fill a cooking void with a small appliance or three. There's nearly no kitchen that can't use an extra slow-cooker, can opener, hand mixer, waffle maker, induction burner, microwave oven, meat grinder, stand-up mixer, immersion blender, vacuum sealer or electric roaster.
Our friends and sponsors at Culinary Kitchen have a beautiful showroom in their new location at 7222 N Western Ave. that's at least triple the size of the old one and includes every conceivable cooking apparatus from smallest to largest.
If you want to blow away the cook on your list, Culinary Kitchen has retro-look ranges with cutting-edge technology, ovens with the ability to cook a monster turkey to perfection in less than an hour and devices once reserved for restaurant kitchens and now made with the home kitchen in mind.
Other hot spots for kitchen outfitting include International Pantry in Norman; Gourmet Gallery in Edmond and northwest Oklahoma City; Bed, Bath and Beyond; and Williams Sonoma.
Our other sponsors, at American Propane, are still putting the finishing touches on their new showroom, but are open for business next door at AG&M, 7317 Broadway Extension. They've got not only an army of outdoor cookers but all the gadgets you need to support them. Owner Jim Grigsby and his family also do full outdoor kitchens if you want to go big.
Other places to shop for your outdoor cooking enthusiast include local hardware stores, Everything Barbecue and Rick's House of Fire.
Tools worth giving
There are more cooking gadgets available than there are printed pages. Something new is always popping up on the market. But the best gadgets are those used often. Good knives and cutting boards are obvious.
Here's a list of a few tools the king or queen of your kitchen will use more often than they might've thought.
1. Salad dressing cruet: I know we're a Ranch dressing state, but a good vinaigrette is impossible to beat. If a proper receptacle is what keeps you from eating more vinaigrette, fix that with a good cruet, which is a flat-bottomed vessel with a narrow neck. A good one has an integral lip or spout. A cruet has a stopper, lid or phoedelia.
2. Immersion blender: For a cook who makes red beans and rice or any kind of homemade sauces, an immersion blender makes life easier. Rather than transferring hot ingredients into a blender then back to the pot, the immersion blender, which comes in many sizes, goes directly into the pot.
3. Micro-plane grater: These come in a number of shapes and sizes and are so easy to use, you'll find yourself grating ingredients you'd never grated: carrots, garlic, celery, cucumber, apples, pears ... the list is as long as your creativity is deep. These also allow you to grate fresh Parmesan into the fine powder.
4. AeroPress Coffeemaker: Invented in 2005, this device steeps coffee for less than a minute before forcing it through a filter by pressing a plunger through a tube. The result is good, hot coffee super fast.
5. Instant-read thermometer: Once upon a time, food thermometers were expensive and hard to find. Digital instant-reads are accurate, quick and versatile.
6. Colanders/strainers: Notice the “s” on the end of that word. Assorted sizes of strainers make a chef happy. I have one large enough to contain a whole package of cooked pasta and one small enough to sift a half-cup of flour.
7. Pinch bowls: One of the biggest challenges for home cooks is mise en place, which is the practice of organizing all needed ingredients for a recipe before a burner is clicked on. Prep bowls are the perfect receptacle for small amounts of measured ingredients. How many should you buy? As many as you can afford.
8. Bottle opener: Openers come in many shapes and sizes. I recently tried one from Trudeau that's shaped like a bottle and collects the cap after it's popped off.
9. Wine gadgets: Anyone who attends or hosts wine tastings knows that memory gets erratic by evening's end. Some fun markers for guests to attach to their stemware is a heck of a lot better than comparing shades of lipstick on the rim. A good corkscrew or three is always appreciated, and for those poor souls incapable of finishing what they started, consider a wine vacuum sealer.
10. Salt and pepper mills: There is no substitute for freshly ground spices. Toss that tin of fine-ground black pepper and get your home cook a pepper grinder and accompanying salt grinder. Trudeau now makes a red pepper grinder to store your red pepper flakes in that's pretty handy, too. A spice grinder is also great, but be sure your favorite foodie is committed enough to his/her cooking to grind spices.
11. Ninja 3-in-1 Cooker: Somewhere between the electric skillet and the slow-cooker is this system that roasts, bakes and braises. It gets hot enough to brown meats before they go into braising mode. It steam roasts, which is great for seafood and vegetables.
12. Spoon rest: Every cook needs a resting place for utensils. Trudeau makes one that clips to the side of pots and pans.