2010 gift guide – kitchen items
Who wouldn’t want this Upside Down Apron for their kitchen? Not only does it protect your clothes from stains brought on by cooking, it also gives you cooking times and measurements printed upside down, so when you are wearing the apron the print is right-side up for you! It’s a win-win for everyone. Don’t you want one for yourself and one to give as a gift?
For a friend of family member who has the everlasting crush on Brooklyn (o hai), this pair of Fishs Eddy Brooklyn Mugs just might be the ticket. Morning coffee will never taste better. Also, they have just the right amount of aesthetic – I think coffee mugs should strike a nice balance between restraint and design.
Do you have a baker in the family? Does she (or he!) make stunning layer cakes for every festive occasion (or just because?)? This milk cake stand might be the most beautiful way to display those cakes – what an entrance would they make? The minty green has just the right amount of retro, but the clean lines around the edges spell modern.
Simon Pearce Pie Dishes – I’ve fallen in love with Simon Pearce glass. We visited the store and studio while in Vermont over Thanksgiving – and Andrew’s parents generously gifted us with a this stunning Barre serving bowl. I can’t stop staring at it. On our way out, I saw these pie dishes and decided that my next Simon Pearce splurge will involve one of these – just look at them – aren’t they works of art?
I know some cooks might be apprehensive about using a cast iron pan. You can’t put it in the dishwasher, you can’t soak it, you can’t use harsh ingredients, you have to dry it after cleaning, you have to periodically reseason it. Sounds like a pain in the butt! But trust me, this will be your workhorse, your go-to pan, and if you take care of it, it’ll last a lifetime, and might be something you pass onto your children. It goes from stove-top to oven, you can make latkes, roast a chicken, or bake a tarte tatin, just to name a few. It’ll be indispensable and well-loved, and since we could all use more room in our kitchens, aren’t items that can multi-task the best? Besides, no one can argue with this price tag, especially when knowing that this can be a lifetime investment.
Pricy – yes. Insanely useful and can last forever – also yes. Staub enjoys an almost fanatical following from its users and with good reason: the quality and versatility are incredible. This 5-quart cocotte above is a great size that will allow you to make soup, chili, braise a chicken, bake a loaf of that no-knead bread. In stores, when I was doing research and was asking about Le Creuset vs Staub, everyone kept voting for Staub. “But Le Creuset photographs better,” I whined. The ardent Staub loyalists pointed out to me, however, that Staub has more enamel coatings and is thus more resistant to chipping; the dark interior has ground up quartz in it which make for better heat resistance and a rougher surface (which gives better browning); and those strategically placed spikes on the lid help with the braising process. Plus, they were slightly cheaper, being a younger brand that has more to prove. In short – I’m now an owner of 3! Though to be fair, I paid only for one of them and it was on sale for $50 at TJMaxx. I know – life just isn’t fair. But $50 or $200 – this might be a really lovely and thoughtful splurge on someone near and dear to you: a boyfriend who loves to make chili for a Sunday football game, or a mother-in-law who loves to braise. Besides, when not being used for cooking, this cocotte doubles rather excellently as a free weight you use in lieu of going to the gym.
Those who’ve lived this long without an immersion blender, upon being given one will thank you endlessly for opening their world to a better life. I mean it – these are indispensable! Imagine not having to use dirty a blender to puree your soup – it can be done in the very pot your soup is cooking. Fewer dishes to wash – sign me up! This is a perfect give for someone who seriously lacks kitchen space – I am dearly attached to mine.
And let’s not forget cookbooks. This has been a great year for cookbooks – with some wonderful ones coming out. I tried to keep myself on a budget and not buy every cook book I wanted, but I did treat myself to a few and a few were generously sent to me for review. Here’s a sampling of the ones that have charmed me: Around My French Table, In the Kitchen With a Good Appetite, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl & The Chef, Ready for Dessert, Baked: Explorations, Sticky Gooey Crispy Crunchy, Good To the Grain, and The Perfect Finish. My requirement to make the cut was simple – each one I set aside at least six recipes to make. If I’m missing a few, please forgive me – I’ll be back in the apartment tomorrow night and double check to make sure I didn’t miss any books. Me – what cookbook(s) do I want this holiday season? Plenty and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook – by Yotam Ottolenghi. Ever since our trip to London and the most amazing meal there, I’ve been dreaming of those cookbooks, which I’m hoping to make mine sometime soon. Is self-gifting too self-indulgent?