Welcome to part deux of the 2010 holiday gift guide! This week, I am zeroing in on gadgets, gear and other glorious gee-gaws that will appeal to food-oriented folk (let's hear it for alliteration!) As always, please add your suggestions for other brilliant gift ideas via comments.
Gorgeous Calendars From Cavallini & Co.
I've loved looking at their Farmer's Market calendar all year long so I just took a peek to see what they're offering for 2011. In addition to the Garden calendar ($22) below, they've got a delectable-lookin' desserts desk calendar ($13), and a bunch of other beauties you can browse through.
These are great for making lists, leaving messages, writing out a menu, and encouraging your kids to be creative. I also just love the way they look in a kitchen - homey, fun and old-fashioned. You can either buy one (check out this cool Etsy shop that sells chalkboards made with recycled window casings and picture frames) or you can make one yourself! Click here for Martha Stewart's tutorial on how to make your own magnetic chalkboard.
After the business end fell out of our potato peeler a few months ago, I did a little research and ended up getting one of these awesome palm scrubbers by Chef'n ($8.50). It's super comfortable, won't slip out of your hand and also has a good set of bristles -- not too soft. Chef'n also makes a palm peeler that people seem excited about -- I have not tried it but they sometimes sell the two together ($15.50 with shipping). A great stocking stuffer!
Animal-Shaped Cutting Boards
I've been admiring these (and wanting to make them myself) for years, ever since I first saw the idea in an old Martha Stewart Living magazine. But in the meantime, you can buy these adorable porcine, bovine and poultrine (definitely made that word up...) cutting board from Fishs Eddy for $33.
I got one of these great Kikkerland timers ($12) from my Aunt Katy's storehouse of wonders (a.k.a. Healthy Living Market in Burlington, VT) a few years ago. It's hard not to be smitten with this timer's classic looks and powerful magnet. Admit it, you are powerless to resist...
Rubber Stamps For Marking Freezer Items
My cousin Norah introduced me to this idea at Thanksgiving. She and her boyfriend Chris had marked the items in their chest freezer with the appropriate stamped images to help keep them straight in a sea of white freezer paper. A deer stamp ($8.25) for venison, a pig stamp ($8) for pork, etc. Cute idea, right?! (Well, maybe it's not quite as cute if you're a vegetarian, but since I am a meat eater I found it adorable!)
Pretty Much Anything By Bauer Pottery
I have been a groupie of this company ever since my Aunt Katy gave us a set of Bauer Pottery mixing bowls as a wedding gift. They specialize in these simple, sweet designs that remind me of the 1940's and 50's glazed in great colors that somehow manage to be both classy and cheerful at the same time.
Immersion Hand Blender
When it comes to gadgets, nothing can compare to the immersion, hand or wand blender. I think it is the single most useful kitchen gadget I own. I got mine for $5 at a yard sale about 8 years ago when I lived in Washington, DC and it's still going strong! This handy little wand blender allows you to puree things right in the pot or bowl without having to deal with pouring hot (or cold) liquids into a blender or food processor. And the clean up is wonderfully easy, too -- no need to mess with the Cuisinart's millions of hard to clean parts. I cannot say enough good things about these blenders. Prices vary by brand.
Porcelain Glove Molds
Although this is primarily an objet d'art, these can also be useful by the kitchen sink to hold your rings while you're scrubbing or to dry rubber gloves on. I love that these are actual glove molds direct from the factory so each one is different. Also from Fishs Eddy, these range in price from $37 to well over $100, depending on the rarity of the mold.
This is something I have been wanting for many years but just could not afford counter-space-wise until we moved back to the east coast. A super helpful thing to have on hand when your hands are messy from cooking, especially when you're breaking in a new cookbook with a stiff binding. I like the looks of this cookbook holder ($35) because it has clean lines and a cover to protect the book while you're making a mess.
Microplane Grater and Zester
This rockin' tool was one of my first Gifts From The Kitchen Gods posts. Nothing beats this light little rasp ($11) for grating chocolate or parmesan cheese or zesting a lemon or orange. They're inexpensive and stocking-shaped, too...
I keep seeing these pop up in other people's gift guides and am always tempted to get one. Something about the rustic and nature themes really appeals to me and I like the idea of having a wall-mounted bottle opener in a kitchen, too. Here are a few of my favorites -- the wall-mounted bear opener ($14) is made by HomArt and the bird ($16) and the antler ($28)openers are from Anthropologie.
Glass Storage Containers!
In addition to being prettier than tupperware, glass storage containers are also a lot healthier for you and your family because they will not leach toxic chemicals like BPA into the food you store in them (a definite plus in my book!) Unlike their plastic cousins, glass storage containers do not trap odors, nor do they stain, and they will also last a long time (unless you drop them, that is...) Click here to read my post about these gems for more info on the health benefits, etc. Crate and Barrel Outlet is a great place to get these and Amazon also has a big selection.
Recipe Storage Boxes
As I've learned from personal experience, having your recipes organized can make all the difference in actually using them. And for some people, just storing them in something pretty will probably provide the incentive they need to cook more often. A company called RSVP makes this cute bamboo box ($16), Martha Stewart makes a very cute, painted tin that also comes in red ($10), and I also like this neat-looking stainless steel box ($36).
Oxo Drain Strainers
I have already waxed poetic about the merits of these little silicone beauties by Oxo. And I like them just as much now as I did a few months ago when I bought them. They're nicer-looking than most drain covers and much easier to clean since you just flip the silicone basket part inside out over the compost bucket or the garbage. You can buy them with a drain plug for $10 or without the plug for $8. Another good stocking stuffer.
Periodic Table of the Vegetables
I have long been a fan of this wonderful poster. And now, our little Will loves it, too! He likes to sit on our laps at the kitchen table and point to the different vegetables and say their names (as best he can). His favorites include the pumpkin (pump), peas, tomato (may-may), and the corn. You can buy the poster here for $20 (it appears to be a bit hard to find right now, this was the only site I found that offered it.)
In case you missed it, you may want to check out the other two installments of the 2010 Holiday Gift Guide: Part I: Great Books For Foodies and Part III: Food,Glorious Food.