Kitchen Ninja Gift Guide 2014
The holidays are here and you may be feeling pressured to get that something special for that someone special. Of course you still have a few options if you did not already check off everyone on your list by Cyber Monday. You can rush to the mall and fight with hoards of people cranky to be spending money and time while you search for an item they most likely do not need. You can waste hours at work on the internet finding the perfect gift to ship while not getting anything important done. Oh and don't even mention competing with all of the Susie homemakers and Martha Stewarts of the world to make something from a DIY you tube video with ingredients you have never heard of.
Not everyone has time to make homemade lotion bars and glass mosaic trays, but we still want to give something thoughtful and functional. At least I like useful gifts, as opposed to a Tchotchke I have to find another shelf for.
I love gourmet food items that you may not be inclined to splurge on during your weekly shopping trip but are not really that expensive for a gift. And of course there are some tools I find wonderful to have in the kitchen. These little things can turn your screaming cook into the "food whisperer". Do not worry it is post feminism era and you can buy your sweetie a kitchen gadget without offending her.
Kitchen Ninja Gift Guide 2014
Whipped Cream Dispenser
This little gadget will set you back about $50 but it will set your recipient ahead of the game. No more dragging out the hand beaters or the behemoth Kitchen Aid to whip some cream. Simply pour in the best quality cream you can find and 2 Tbsp maple syrup for instant nutrient dense whipped cream. We have no guilt putting this on our holiday cocoa.
You may have a dusty one from your first few years living together. If there is still one in your attic, go get it and give it to someone learning how to cook. Gone are the days of frowning upon re-gifting. This is not the 90's! We have shows all about hoarders and we have so much junk even our thrift stores are overflowing. Just tell the person you want to share this useful, expensive tool that was gifted to you instead of spending more money in a store on a useless item. The right person will understand and be thankful. I used to grate until my hands would cramp. Now I make a vegetable sauce in no time. Pop in the grater attachment and grate onions, celery, and carrots in a flash. Change to the mixer attachment and add ground meat for meat balls, or bread crumbs for patties. Did you know you can make homemade mayo in the food processor too? This is one of those must have gadgets!
Mortar and Pestle
Yes, you can buy ground spices, but one meal or tea with a freshly ground spice in a mortar and pestle and you will be hooked for life. Try cardamom seeds ground into Turmeric Tea or black peppercorns and unrefined sea salt ground into a dry rub. The smells wafting out of your kitchen will smell like the real deal!
Unrefined Sea Salt
I mention this in all my recipes and it is very en vogue to buy a quality salt right now. Whether it is the Himalayan pink salt, a Fleur de Sal or some basic Celtic sea salt, these salts pack a mineral punch that regular table salt does not offer. Bump up their health and refine their taste buds with one of these amazing salts.
People may compare the price tag with refined white sugar and buy the cheaper toxic stuff. However, as a gift coconut sugar is a great affordable item that is actually nutritious. Simply pour it into a mason jar and stick a vanilla bean in it and you have a delicious gift. Throw in a bag of organic fair trade coffee beans and a cute measuring spoon and you have a perfect foodie ensemble.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This monounsaturated fat is so versatile and healthy for you, it is border line ridiculous. According to a new study, you can cook your olive oil safely and it will not change into a trans fatty acid as canola oil and vegetable oils do when heated. Buy from a reputable, local and organic farm to be sure your olive oil is not cut with cheaper vegetable oils. Add a fancy vinegar like Fig Balsamic or Champagne Vinegar and you have a great foodie gift set.
If like me, you enjoy having salad with every meal, you should invest in a nice wooden bowl. We received ours as a wedding present and 15 years later, that bowl is almost worn through, but still serving salads. It was a lovely gift that most people complement. A child can learn to rub in the lemon juice and dijon with a wooden spoon and nothing will get broken. Drizzle in a nice olive oil and vinegar and voila the taste test begins. My daughter likes hers on the sweet side, but I am open to any healthy way to get more salads on their plates.
These are undeniably one of the most used tools in our house. If you want to teach family members early on, not to use their teeth when opening packages, store the kitchen scissors low enough for them to reach. We use ours for packages, for herbs, for pasta, for bacon, etc.... just not for out of the kitchen tasks. Kitchen scissors stay in the kitchen!
This is one of those tools you wonder if you need or not, until you use it. It has really been a fun addition to our family, but I cook a lot. If you have abundant produce from a tree, like to make healthy snacks for your kids, sprout your grains or nuts, or need a consistent temperature for your yoghurt making, this dehydrator can do it all.
Cast Iron Pots and Pans
When people ask what I love to cook in, I say cast iron. It is cheap, it does not scrape bits of nonstick chemicals into my food, it is sturdy and a great heat conductor. Yes, you need to season it first, but after a good seasoning, (meaning cooking it with only a cooking oil on it), it will last forever.
Here is another one of those wedding presents you may have up in the attic. Seriously, dust it off and give it to someone who cooks. These are the handiest ways to cook bone broth or a meal while you are at work all day. Another trick is to add oats and twice as much water as usual at night. Throw in some nuts, cinnamon and apples and wake up to the smell of oatmeal ready in the morning.
These are for everyone. If you have tried to pour a hot soup into the blender, you need an immersion blender. If you mash your own steaming hot potatoes by hand, you need an immersion blender. I have found so many uses for this tool, I do not know how I lived without it. This will replace those hand held beaters and streamline all of your blending processes.
Of course making your gifts by hand is the best way to show someone you really care. But, for those of us that simply do not have the time or skill, these gifts offer the same message. They say I love that you care about yourself, your family and your friends enough to cook real food and I want to make your life easier. If you really do not know what tools the person may or may not have already, stick to edible treats. A basket of gorgeous organic mandarin oranges is so much easier than baking sugar cookies and the recipient will not feel guilty eating them.
If you really want to go simple and bring a bottle of wine, go local. We are in California near some of the best vineyards in the world. If the host or hostess does not drink, try a local raw honey. The idea is to think quality instead of quantity, think local, and think simple.