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Well, the gift-giving season is upon us and people everywhere are rushing about to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. Fortunately, those of us who are culinary inclined tend to be easy to shop for! Everything from a good skillet to an unusual spice blend can find its way to a gift box for an eager home chef.
With that reassuring thought in mind, we've put together a small guide highlighting some of our favorite holiday gifts. From ideas for the cook who seems to have everything to one just starting out, these themed gifts are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to holiday shopping for cooks. Feel free to mix and match ideas from this guide, alter suggestions to fit your style or try something completely different. We're just offering some favorites to get the creative juices flowing. The rest is up to you!
Anyone who is busy, but would still like to enjoy home-cooked meals is a perfect candidate for the Rival Smart Crockpot. This large 6 quart model allows you to program it to automatically cook a meal for a specified amount of time and then it switches to a warming setting and keeps your meal toasty until you’re ready to enjoy it. The classy black and brushed metal look of this crockpot will fit seamlessly into many kitchens and the easy-clean, removable stoneware crock is pretty enough to use for serving.
For beginning cooks looking to add quality to their cooking tools, consider the Simply Calphalon Hard Anodized Nonstick 12-Inch Omelet with Lid. This highly versatile piece can handle everything from eggs to chicken and even spend some quality time in the oven. It’s a must for general sautéing, searing and frying and the addition of a lid makes it a kitchen workhorse without breaking the bank.
If you want to give the gift of nicely ground fresh coffee, look no further than the Capresso Cool Grind Coffee Grinder. This large capacity grinder--the grinding chamber holds up to 3-1/2 ounces of coffee--makes enough for 15 cups. Most importantly, it keeps its cool while doing it, as low heat build up in the grinder chamber preserves the fresh aroma and taste of coffee. It can also do double duty in the kitchen by grinding spice blends, bread crumbs and any other number of ingredients for your daily cooking needs.
Semi-Homemade Desserts, a new cookbook by Sandra Lee, offers a variety of sweets that use everything from cake mixes to frozen whipped topping that are sure to look lovely on the table and taste yummy off the fork! This is a good book for those that entertain often, but never seem to have the time or patience for making a dessert from scratch. With over 100 recipes, there’s sure to be a few recipes that make it to your favorites list.
Creating Chefs is a new cookbook by Carol Maybach. It’s a great gift for the gourmand in your life that already seems to have everything. Written with an inside look at America’s finest culinary institutions, it offers the best kept secrets of chefs, tips for presentation and, of course, recipes that were once found only at the finest restaurants. Now, thanks to this cookbook, they can be found at your table as well.
In a world in which fast food has become the norm, veteran food writer Rick Rogers has joined the crowd. Before you moan about greasy burgers and limp salads, check out his new book, The Carefree Cook. Dedicated to helping us cook good food fast, it has over 150 recipes that can be made in about 30 minutes. With that kind of time frame, calling the pizza delivery guy seems like a waste of time. Anyone who loves food and cooking, but seems to busy to enjoy either will love this as a gift.
If you know someone who loves ice cream (and who doesn’t?), the Cuisinart 1 ½ Quart Automatic Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt & Sorbet Maker is a perfect gift. Simple to use and fun to experiment with, friends and family will enjoy the fruits of its labor again and again – no matter the time of the year. For special holiday treats, use eggnog or crushed candy canes to make seasonal treats for friends and loved ones. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Save time and effort in the kitchen with a KitchenArt Select-A-Spice Auto-Measure Spice Carousel. Each unit contains 12 containers for dispensing spices either by sprinkling or a handy ¼ teaspoon incremental dispenser. The entire unit can be mounted under the counter and it is easily spun to locate the spice that you need. What’s more, multiple units can be stacked for more spice storage and use.
The Pyrex Digital Probe Oven Thermometer/ Timer allows you to measure the temperature (in Celsius or Fahrenheit) of your food as it cooks--without opening the oven door. A thin cord attaches the commercial-quality probe to a digital display screen that sits on your countertop. The true beauty of this gadget is that a timer sounds once the preset temperature of the food is reached, allowing you to read in the other room without having to continually check the temperature reading. Anyone who still believes in Sunday roast chicken or making pot roast will love this handy addition to a kitchen.
For the person who loves to cook, but might be hard to shop for, gift certificates are a sure bet. They let the recipient know that you appreciate their love of cooking while allowing them to choose their gift. And, because they choose the gift, you just know it will be perfect! Some of our favorite places to look for gift certificates include:
Whatever gifts find their way under the tree this year, we at Seasoned Cooking would like to wish you all a joyous and festive holiday season and many more to come. Happy Holidays ... or, as we like to say here, Seasoned Greetings!
Editor’s Note: The prices listed in this article are reflective of late fall 2003 prices. They are subject to change without notice.