It’s that time of the year where a good number of people (myself included) are rabidly searching for gifts for relatives and friends and coworkers. I thought it’d be fun to compose a list of a few gifts that are small enough to stuff in a stocking and also reasonably priced. By that I mean that all of the gifts below are under $40 and most are under $20.
These are things that any person who cooks regularly would really love to have. I know I don’t even have all of these things on the list but that’s more because I have a really small kitchen (and I’m lazy), not because I wouldn’t find these items very useful.
Twenty-one is a completely arbitrary number in honor of Amazon’s arbitrary prices.
Microplane – $11.95 – I’m not really sure how I lived so long without one of these guys. I use it to zest fruit, mince garlic, and grate harder cheeses like Parmesan. Plus it fits perfectly in a stocking.
Mandoline – $39.80 – Ok. This is one of the utensils that I don’t have and totally want. You can use it for so many awesome things. Just remember to use the protective guard when slicing. I once saw a dude slice off a good chunk of finger at a restaurant…
Paring Knife – $39.95 – A cook’s best friend. Very frequently overlooked, but very important. I use mine to peel all sorts of veggies and chop tinier things like shallots and garlic. Just remember to keep it in it’s package when you stick it in the stocking. Last thing you need over the holidays is a hospital visit.
Dough Scraper – $8.99 – The most obvious use for this thing is for scraping pesky doughs that tend to stick to your counter. I use mine for a bunch of different tasks though. I used it to chop up this sweet potato gnocchi for example.
Emersion Blender – $29.27 – I’m putting one of these on my our wedding registry for sure. Making soup becomes really easy with one of these. Again, it’s one of those things that someone may not think of, but once they see it in their stocking they’ll think of lots of uses for it.
Silpat – $19.25 – These are all the rage these days as they supposedly make parchment paper useless. I’ve only used one once and it worked great. You could roll it up and stick it in a stocking without too many problems.
Mallet – $12.50 – Cooks frequently need to flatten things, smash things, or just take out general aggression. A good mallet is key for tenderizing meats or breaking shell or bone.
Pastry Brush – $6.99 – Again, something that I don’t actually own for some unknown reason. When I need to put on a egg wash or something, I use a fork and it always turns out kind of sloppy.
Candy Thermometer – $19.95 – Want to deep fry something? Want to make candy? Well, temperature is one of the most important factors. The last thing you want to do is stick a bunch of french fries in lukewarm oil…
Meat Thermometer – $8.50 – A pretty essential device if your cooking gift receiver ever wants to roast a turkey or cook a good beef tenderloin. You could upgrade to the digital version if you feel like splurging ($20.99).
Digital Scale – $24.45 – If you know someone who is considering getting serious about baking, this is a pretty essential piece of equipment. Cups and Tablespoons just can’t produce consistent results.
Butcher Twine –$6.00 – This is another one of those kitchen items that you won’t miss until you need it and then you’ll really miss it. It’s a great stocking stuffer for someone who cooks a lot of roasts or whole birds.
Cheese Cloth – $6.60 – See above except for the cook who likes to make homemade ricotta or yogurt. You can use cheese cloth for things other than cheese also. I use tiny bits of it to wrap up spice packets for soups and stocks. It makes it a lot easier to remove your spices when you need to.
Good Tongs – $12.09 – Ok. Seriously Amazon. What’s the deal with the weird prices? 9 cents? Is that really necessary? I say good tongs here because a lot of tongs suck. A long sturdy metal set will serve a lot of purposes and be invaluable to the home cook.
Kitchen Towels – $7.66 – Kind of the socks of the kitchen world. Everybody needs them but nobody likes to buy them. So help a cook out and pick up a few packages.
Spice Grinder – $16.19 – I have two of these now and I use them almost weekly. I keep my coffee and spices separate, but I’m not sure that’s entirely necessary if you clean it correctly. Anyway, it’s a great gift for someone who doesn’t already have one.
Rolling Pin – $13.95 – I didn’t quite get the benefit of the french rolling pin until I had one, but they are awesome. Very long and elegant. They make it a lot easier to roll out larger pieces of dough.
Kitchen Shears – $19.95 – Need to cut off some chicken wings or some tough pieces of twine? These guys will come in handy. Kitchen shears are sturdier than your average pair of scissors.
Vanilla Beans – Vanilla beans are one of those things that foodies love, but sometimes feel bad about buying for themselves. That makes them the perfect stocking stuffer.
Booze – Ok. I’m not linking to anything here. But almost any bottle will fit in a stocking. Coincidence? I think not.
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about this. Anyone else have any good foodie stocking stuffers?
Stocking photo by Archie McPhee. Booze photo by me.