Holiday 2010 Gift Guide: My Top Ten Stocking Stuffers for the Kitchen

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

1. Tongs

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.

3. Whisk

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.

4. Microplane

I use my handy little