When it comes to the holidays, I’m a competitive gift giver. It’s not so much that I’m a material girl — it’s that I’m an incredibly sentimental person. Presents, to me, can be highly symbolic things; more often than not, they represent the thought and care you have for another person. In other words, I unquestionably fall into the Jack Donaghy camp on this one.
Clearly, gift-giving is one of my love languages, or the ways in which I express affection. As a result, I spend a considerable amount of time “researching” (online shopping for) useful, meaningful, or just plain cool gifts for loved ones. I even like to simply collect random gift ideas without any particular occasions or people in mind. These lists come in handy when I have to put together a present or attend a white elephant party at the last minute.
This year, I’ll be sharing these finds with you each Wednesday until Christmas. For this first installation, I’ll be presenting — what else? — cool cooking gadgets. These knick knacks are fairly inexpensive and handy, yet are often the last things to complete kitchen collections.
Clockwise from top right:
OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner. Many people might avoid buying salad spinners because they add to kitchen clutter — but I think the ability to dry greens in a neat, timely manner is worth that bit of shelf space. Besides, it can double as a strainer and/or serving bowl!
Silpat Non-Stick Silicone Baking Liner. These babies are perfect for baking, and can handle more than just candy and cookies. Meats, breads, patties… it’ll cleanly, neatly bake whatever you throw on it. Silpats are sheets of many uses and a surefire way to please the cook in your life.
RSVP White Marble Mortar and Pestle. There’s so much controversy over the garlic press and whether or not it maximizes the release of oils. You know what, though? Crushing your aromatics between two rocks will always draw out flavor. Nothing beats a good, old-fashioned, heavy mortar and pestle — it’s what my mama used in the kitchen.
Microplane Classic Zester/Grater. My friend Kenny introduced me to this magical woodshop-cum-kitchen tool one fateful afternoon. I was so won over that I ordered one the day after. Never did I imagine I’d use a zester regularly — but I now find myself inevitably gravitating towards it for that perfect final touch: tendrils of lemon zest, nubbins of parmigiano, flakes of chocolate…
Swissmar Borner V-Slicer Plus Mandoline. I’ve often shied away from slicing devices, scared by their potential for bodily injury and my own clumsiness. However, as home cooks get more comfortable in the kitchen, the advantages of having a mandoline make themselves apparent. Slicers are incredibly useful — I wish I’d had one when I made my Vietnamese shrimp salad.
Edit: Jezebel also has a post up about kitchen gadgets! Check out the comments for more excellent ideas.