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Gadgets And Gizmos!

7 Gifts for the Cook in Your Life

What does the busy parent (translation: the one who makes the meals) want this holiday season? Here are three fantastic kitchen tools and time savers that I use all the time, and four more that I really want in my own kitchen at home.

What I can’t live without:

1. Immersion Blender/Stick Blender

This is the perfect tool for soups and sauces. Easy to clean and to store, it’s great for this time of year when you want to make all of those homey soups to store for cold evenings.

2. Hand Mixer

Just your basic, two-beater hand mixer has been great in my household. I don’t have the space for a stand mixer and this is just right for cookie and muffin-making. Mine comes with dough hooks for bread, which is something I definitely want to start making this winter. It’s easy–so I’ve heard!

3. Salad Spinner
Another basic piece, but with so many different uses. Yes, it can help clean all of those fresh-from-the-market greens, but the inside basket is a great extra colander when you don’t have one. You can also dry berries or store fruits and vegetables. The big, plastic bowl is handy too.

What I really want:

4. Slow Cooker/Crock Pot
Yep, this working mom/chef/sometime stay-at-home mom does not own a crock pot. I tend to cook everything the old fashioned way—one thing at a time. But really, putting everything together in one pot and walking away sounds so much easier. If you are going to give it as a gift, package it with some crock liners so we don’t have to clean it up.

5. Full-Size Food Processor

Currently I have a mini-chopper, which is great, but I have to use it several times during one recipe because it’s so small. The Cuisinart processor I have my eye on comes with several attachments and blades, so it’s great for shredding, chopping, and even making doughs.

6. Dream Refrigerator

Here’s a not-so-little gift that would make cooking, storing, grocery shopping, and feeding the family much, much simpler. The Samsung 31-cu. Ft., 4-drawer stainless steel refrigerator even has a WiFi screen with apps for recipes. It can tell you when you are low on items. The middle drawer offers easy-access for kids’ snacks. Plus, it has room for thirty-one bags worth of groceries!

7. Not Just Any Old Knife

When I started my business, I took all of my good knives and used them as my starter set. That left me and my husband (also a food pro) with a very sad knife drawer. There are two shiny pieces of steel that I would love to call my own: Global GF Series 16cm chef’s knife and 18cm vegetable knife. They are light, perfect for my hand, and they keep a great edge. Thinking about purchasing a knife for the cook on your list? A reputable kitchen supply store can help you match the perfect knife with the receiver’s expertise. Also, ask about a return policy; knives are not a one-size-fits-all gift proposition. And make sure the receiver has information on how to keep that beautiful new knife properly honed. It’s true what they say about a dull knife being a lot more dangerous than a sharp one.

Christine Wansleben, chef and owner of Mise En Place Cooking School, lives in the West End, where she cooks up a storm with her husband and their twins.
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