Q&A: Let’s talk about kitchen-related gifts

This is the time of year when I get a lot of requests for recommendations on smart purchases of quality kitchen items. Most people are looking for gifts and some just want to take advantage of Black Friday and other holiday sales, but everyone has questions about knives, pot sets, gadgets and the like.

Below I link to a few gift guides I put together last year that still hold plenty of weight now at the end of 2011.  Hopefully these lists will inspire you to stock your kitchen (or someone else’s if you are gifting) with a few key quality items that will prove themselves to be invaluable for cooking and will last a long, long time.

Then, I’ll be hanging out in the comments today to take your questions on kitchen items, should you have any. Opinions expressed are entirely my own of course, but I am drawing on my experience from culinary school, professional kitchen employment, and daily life cooking in my own kitchen.

So read on, make a wish list for yourself, or bookmark a gift item for that budding chef on your Christmas list.

Photo by PR1001

Aimee’s Top Ten ‘Big Ticket’ Kitchen Items

Okay, so some of these aren’t so ‘big ticket’, a colander, a pepper mill…but they are tools and equipment I reach for nearly every single day in my kitchen. For that reason, it is essential that they be functional, durable, and easy to clean.

From the Holiday 2010 post…

“I’ve rummaged through the tool kit of many a professional chef. I’ve taken detailed inventory of a restaurant kitchen’s supplies. I’d rather shop for spatulas than shoes and I’ve probably cooked every day for the last twenty years.

I’ve seen what lasts (my mother’s Le Creuset she received as a wedding present 35 years ago), I’ve seen what breaks (cheap espresso makers) and I’m ready to share my recommendations.

Whether you are writing your own holiday wish list, or are looking for the perfect gift for the cook in the family, let this list of items inspired from my personal kitchen be your guide.”

Head here to read my Top Ten ‘Big Ticket’ Kitchen Items.

Aimee’s Top 10 Stocking Stuffers for the Kitchen

Here I’ve listed some smaller tools I utilize 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.

Head here to read my  Top 10 Stocking Stuffers for the Kitchen.

Home for the Holidays

Next Friday we’ll look at my top ten favorite cookbooks of the year. And get ready, because our Home for the Holidays giveaway week is back at the end of the month! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about my giveaway items before – they are beautiful, top-quality, and a pure pleasure to use in my kitchen.

Stay tuned! The fun begins November 28 on all five Simple Living Media channels.

What are your essential kitchen items? What would you like to add to your ‘toolbox’? Any questions?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. My must haves in the kitchen would be silicone spatulas, stainless steal measuring cups (which I use over the flame to melt small amts. of butter and such), pyrex measuring cups, microplane grater, but above all a darn good paring & 10″ chefs knife.

  2. My biggest must-haves are my 12 inch glass lidded skillet & my springloaded tongs. Another must-have is a good wooden spoon. The two I got at our wedding lasted 5+ years and broke within a week of each other. I replaced with a $4 wooden spoon from Target — already splitting after 2 weeks! Any recommends for sturdy, thick handled wooden spoons?

  3. I am considering buying some Pampered Chef stoneware baking pans for gifts this year. What do you think about stoneware? and Pampered Chef quality? Looking for a quality/long lasting gift…

  4. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says:

    I’e been eyeing the immersion blenders ever since you mentioned them last year. Since I think my blender’s about to die, I just might get one soon. Thanks for the recommendations and sharing your knowledge!

    • It’s a fantastic investment, Steph. I won a KA blender this summer, but before that made do for years with an immersion blender. It’s great if you’re short on storage space.

  5. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says:

    My stocking stuffer must-haves: Tons of rubber spatulas, at least two flat whisks, a metal AND a plastic flipper spatula, and a french rolling pin (that last one was in my stocking last year!)

    Under the tree, I’ve gotten cooking stuff every year. My favorites have probably been the mini cocotte from Le Creuset (I use it as a salt cellar), my Keurig Milk Frother (lattes every day, hooray!) and my electric kettle. I’ve waxed poetically about that kettle – I think you know it’s probably my most used kitchen appliance. :)

    • I’ve been dying for a mini cocotte. They are so cute! Curious about the electric kettle now. Though my kitchen has an annoying shortage of plugs, so I like using the stove top to boil my kettle.

      • Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says:

        The electric kettle was what we used when you were here this summer. When you go to the UK, you can’t find a house without one. I don’t know how I lived without one for the first 25 years of my life.

        • We got an electric kettle for our wedding… LOVE it. It’s something we were introduced to by our Asian friends – and now that we have one, we’re hard pressed to go back to the stove for boiling.

        • Kinda Crunchy Kate says:

          I’ll second that! :) We lived in the UK for three years and an electric kettle came with our flat. We used it every day (multiple times a day) and when we moved back to the US bought one here immediately. Now I don’t remember how I functioned without it!

  6. I can’t live without silicone spatulas, KA hand mixer, and my Wusthof santoku. One thing I’ve been thinking about getting this year though is a plastic whisk so that I can use it in my non-stick pans.

  7. Believe me, I don’t really *need* to add anything else to my toolbox, but I’ve had my eye on a Vitamix for the past few months. I think it’s time to upgrade from the crappy KitchenAid to the real deal.

  8. I love my glass baking dishes as well as my Pampered Chef stonewear. Would love a Le Creuset one day!

  9. I must say that the first photo in this post absolutely took my breath away! Simply stunning!

  10. High on my wishlist is a Le Creuset dutch oven big enough for the family. (No, I don’t even have one too small…so maybe I should wish lower.)

    Beyond that, I really want a larger KitchenAid. I have a 5.5-quart, but I often top it out and end up making multiple batched because I’m just over what the bowl can handle. I would love the new 7-quart. It’s glorious.

    I dream big. Really, I’m just hoping to get through the holiday season in one piece. :) Onward to Christmas!

  11. Do you have a mandoline? I’ve been thinking I would want one, but am curious about what you think? Would it be as useful as it seems? If you do have one, is there a certain one you recommend? Thanks for all the ideas!

    • Krissa, I do have a mandoline that I love and saves me time, especially now that my family is growing.

      Look for more mandoline talk during our Home for the Holiday’s giveaway week….and you might even get a chance to win one. (shhhhh, it’s a secret!)

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