The biggest shopping day is fast approaching so why not be equipped with great ideas for stocking stuffers or lovely wrapped tools under the tree for the much loved chef in your life. You don’t need fancy tools, but just the right selection of quality tools will get you far in the culinary world. A basic guideline: stay away from single-use gadgets whose only function can also be performed with a skillfully used knife. Go for quality and avoid harmful materials such as aluminum (a known carcinogen) and Teflon. Allow me to make a few suggestions with your favorite cook in mind-
Three Quality Knives: High carbon stainless steel blades: an 8 inch chef’s knife, a serrated edge bread knife and a paring knife.
Stainless Steel Mesh Strainer: One with a tight weave for rinsing whole grains and legumes
Wooden Spoons: Look for a variety with flat and rounded bottom edges with long handles
Heat- Resistant Spatulas: Heat resistant silicone spatulas in large and small skinny and fat sizes come in handy for scraping food out of a food processor and mixing bowls.
Whisks: My small one gets the most use in whipping up homemade salad dressings. Makes a great stocking stuffer!
Grater and Microplane: Make sure both are designed with handles. My microplane gets put to great use in finely grating fresh ginger and citrus zests.
Salad Spinners: a small one for fresh herbs and a large one for fresh leafy greens. I’ve found the oxo brand to have the most staying power.
Large Sauté Pan: My favorite is cast iron by Lodge. It is naturally nonstick, reasonably priced and comes preseasoned in a variety of sizes. The wok made by Lodge gets a daily workout stirring up seasonably fresh produce.
Dutch oven Casserole: This pot has so many uses on top of stove and in the oven. I use it for soups and stews, sautéing and steaming. The 4 ½ quart size is a good place to begin.
Cookie Sheets: Select heavy gauge metal to conduct heat evenly. Have at least one with rims so it could also be used for roasting vegetables.
Parchment Paper: This is so handy making any baking surface nonstick and easy to clean.
Handheld Immersion Blender: This is my go to tool for blending sauces and soups. Look for a stainless steel shaft that is removable and dishwasher safe with a handle that is easy to grip and operate. Use interchangeably with a food processor or standing blender.
Food Processor: You want a large bowl, a strong motor and a model that is easy to clean and assemble. Add specialty blades and extra bowls as needed.
17 Quart Stainless Steel Stock Pot: This will help get the job done for that ambitious cook who likes to make ahead soups, soup stock, apple sauce and pot pie fillings for the freezer. Look for heavy gauge stainless steel.
For the Bread Baker: These are not must have’s but if the cook in your life or you have a passion for making your own bread, I have used these tools repeatedly and they have paid for themselves over and over.
Nutri-Mill Grain Mill: This mill runs so quiet and clean I keep it handy for grinding whole grain at our kitchen counter. When buying organic whole grain in 25 pound bags and grinding it into fresh flour makes a very nutritious and affordable loaf.
Bosch Universal plus Mixer: This mixer has been my bread making companion for over 35 years. While there are other brands on the market, none of them compare to the excellent performance of this machine!
The above culinary tools and much more, are available at The Kitchen Engine in Spokane Wa. Many of them are being offered at great prices on their day after Thanksgiving sale. Check out their website for specifics.