Being the planner and organizer that I am, I’m thinking about Christmas presents already! Most of my family lives either internationally or across Canada, and so I like to get their boxes out by early December. That way I know gifts will arrive on time, plus then I can focus on other important tasks – like baking gingerbread with the boys and getting my season’s greetings in the mail.
So, in the name of organization, I’m bringing you a holiday gift guide for the kitchen in three parts – big items, stocking stuffers and cookbooks – to help you can get some ideas and recommended resources for the cooks and bakers on your list (or your wish list).
Last Friday we looked at my Top Ten ‘Big Ticket’ Kitchen Items, now I want to give you the top ten smaller tools I reach for every day while cooking and baking. They are absolutely essential for all that I do in the kitchen and making the task of preparing three meals a day much simpler.
Top 10 Stocking Stuffers for the Kitchen
Perhaps one of the most useful kitchen tools ever, I refer to my chef’s tongs as my third hand because I reach for them so often during the day. I use my tongs to loosen boiling spaghetti, toss a salad, turn cubes of browning stew meat or chicken, and do virtually anything that is too hot or icky to do with my bare hands.
This is the same pair I used back in my restaurant days when I worked the line. Best feature? The locking mechanism on the end keeps tongs closed when not in use.
Tip: Don’t leave the tongs in the kitchen once dinner is ready! Bring them to the table and use them to dish up your meal in an efficient and tidy way.
2. Large Silicone Spatula
I got hooked on these Heat-Resistant Spatula when working in professional kitchens, and now can’t function properly with most flimsy spatulas designed for the home cook. These light-weight, yet durable Rubbermaid scrapers are definitely designed for long-term use; they may cost a little more than average, but I know they’ll last a long, long time.
OK, so I’ll admit I have a bit of a whisk obsession. Last time I checked I owned six or seven, but still want one in every color, size and shape! Practically speaking, this is what I get by with for everyday cooking:
I love my 12-inch French wire whisk for emulsifying sauces and such. A lightweight 7-inch whisk is always on hand for blending dry ingredients when baking, and a sturdy 14-inch frequently comes in handy for large batches of pancake batter and the like.
I use my handy little Microplane grater for grating roots and bulbs like ginger, lemongrass and garlic. It’s essential for citrus zest and fresh spices such as whole nutmeg or cinnamon. This particular one is small to store and easy to clean. Love it!
5. Vegetable Peeler
As a longtime fan of the Y-shaped peeler and the control it offers, I’ve had my eye on this one from Oxo; my old peeler is badly in need of an upgrade. Of course if you like the swivel feature, this swivel peeler will get the job done – in a hurry, too.
6. Measuring Devices
Every kitchen needs tools for measuring, ideally for both wet and dry ingredients. I use both small and large Pyrex measuring cups for measuring liquids, plus melting butter or anything that requires using a microwave.
For dry ingredients I love stainless nesting measuring cups. They are sturdy, with handles that are just the right length, and should I absentmindedly set one down on a warm oven top, I don’t have to worry about it melting. Stainless measuring cups come in every price range; what matters most is that you love them.
7. Kitchen Digital Timer
Since I became a mom, a sleep-walking, easily distracted mom with a brain like a sieve, a kitchen timer is most essential. For me it is easiest if it is magnetic, so it hangs out on the fridge, in plain sight.
This little device has saved many a dinner – and nearly every pan of toasting nuts. Like most digital gadgets, you get what you pay for. If you want a timer that is going to survive the occasional drop on the floor by your ‘helpful’ toddler, then you’re best off purchasing quality.
8. Sturdy Stir Spoon
You gotta have one! Every pot of chili and batch of Rice Krispie treats needs a sturdy spoon. It need not be fancy. Lately I’ve been loving my Joyce Chen Burnished Bamboo Wooden Spoons, as bamboo is a renewable resource. Totally Bamboo also makes a solid 16-inch spoon if your batches of chili are ultra large.
9. Silicone pastry brush
The silicone pasty brush has a lot going for it such as its ability to withstand high temperatures (ideal if you’re glazing a 400°F ham), but I think my favorite feature is its quick clean-up – just toss it in the dishwasher and voilà, instantly disinfected with no lingering smells or oils.
10. Slotted, Flexible Stainless Steel Spatula
This spatula is one of those tools that once you have one, you wonder how you ever survived without it. The slotted spatula allows excess liquid to dip off whatever you’re lifting and is extra thin for slipping under a delicate filet of fish or sunny-side-up egg.
It’s light-weight, flexible, and useful for so many kitchen uses. Be prepared to fall in love with this stainless spatula.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post. Preferences stated are purely personal. And yes, you can support Simple Bites by purchasing suggested items through my affiliate links. Thank you!
What small tool or gadget to you reach for every day?