Chances are, that even if you come from a family of local-business supporters, opening carefully-wrapped gifts of books, handmade crafts, and local artisanal edibles, you still managed to receive a gift card or two. And if you’re like me, you’ll be spending the next few days pondering your choices — splurge or practical, wanted or needed? I thought I’d share a few items from my own lists — of course kitchen-related — either things I continue to wish for, or items I own, love, and wouldn’t do without in my kitchen.
Richie Rich level ($250 and up — I mean, who gets these?)
Cuisinart Stand Mixer ($270)
This is perpetually on my wish list. My Kitchenaid Classic has worked for the past decade, but not without packing tape holding it together. The Cuisinart won the Cook’s Illustrated equipment review, and seems to be an all-around better mixer. I’d go for the 7-quart, to mix a double-batch of whole wheat bread dough.
Vitamix Blender ($380)
The Mercedes of blenders. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Or, maybe just do everything from grinding wheat into flour to making smoothies from whole pieces of fruit, skin and all. I don’t have one, but continue to wish.
Benefactor Level ($100 – $200)
Kitchenaid Blender ($100)
Well, Kitchenaid still does some things right. If you’re not ready to shell out $400 for a blender, this one costs significantly less and won the Cook’s Illustrated review for blenders. I doubt it will mill wheat berries into flour, but will likely make a good smoothie.
Cuisinart Food Processor ($100)
I recently read a post from a blogger who was swearing off her food processor. I couldn’t live without mine, and only sometimes wish it had a larger liquid capacity. From making nut butter to pesto to my favorite almond-tomato spread — I use mine every week, sometimes 3-4 times in one day.
Familial level ($30 – $100)
<a href="High-quality Chef’s Knife ($100)
This is the exact knife I’ve used for a decade, the one I returned wedding gifts to acquire. It works as well today as it did in 2001 (I sharpen it somewhat regularly). I’m not loyal to the brand, but believe Henckels and Wusthoff are likely the best choices.
Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Pot ($70)
Love, love our Bodum French Press, for brewing my husband’s home-roasted coffee. It holds four (American-sized) cups, and keeps it warm (though it tastes freshest right after it’s brewed). My favorite part is that I no longer have a big coffee maker taking up valuable space on my counter top.
Realistic Level ($30 and under)
Victorinox Chef’s Knife ($25)
I don’t own this knife, but after reading great reviews from America’s Test Kitchen, I’ve long considered buying one to have an extra chef’s knife in the kitchen. This is an economical way to have a high-quality chef’s knife in your collection — it will totally change your food-prep life.
Lodge Cast Iron 12-inch Skillet ($25)
I’m an admitted toxi-phobe, and several years ago attempted to rid my kitchen of non-stick cookware. I bought a pre-seasoned Lodge skillet, and with careful care (no soap! no hard scrubbing! oil it every now and again!) it has become as non-stick as my old Teflon-coated pan.
Conical Fine-Mesh Strainer ($15)
I received one of these this year, to replace the one my kids destroyed by using it as a hat. This is perfect for straining sauces, sorbets, anything that has bits and pieces you don’t want in your final product. I like the conical shape because it fits into my wide-mouth funnel and the liquid goes straight into the jar or bowl.
Stainless Steel Wide-Mouth Funnel ($8)
I bought this for canning — see the previous post about toxi-phobia, but I don’t think boiling items should come in contact with plastic. To my surprise, I use it ALL. THE. TIME. For everything from ladling homemade yogurt neatly into jars to filling up my canisters with granola. It gives just enough extra width to keep mess to a minimum.
What’s your gift-card plan? What can you not live without, always buy as a wedding gift? What’s your ultimate splurge? Please add to my list!