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CLJ Gift Guides: 15 Gifts for The Cook

November 27, 2017

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We almost didn’t do a Cook’s Gift Guide this year, but decided to after receiving so many messages from y’all about it. It’s good to know that it’s something that interests you, and it’s always fun for me to put together.

CLJ Gift Guides: For the Cook

My approach with cooking is pretty simple – I don’t like waste. I don’t want 5 products to do 5 jobs if there’s one product that can do those same 5 jobs, ya know? So it’s always a challenge to find new products to share without getting gimmicky. But I’m really excited about this gift guide, because they are all things that I use! Some have been shared, most are new, but all of them I wholeheartedly recommend. All of the prices are as of this writing and some of the items are on sale, so if there are discrepancies in pricing I apologize for that – hopefully you’re able to get the best deal!

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

1. Salt Cellar – $29 (not available. Another great one!)

Salt & pepper shakers are not a good gift for a serious cook. Salt & pepper shakers are put on the table, along with the food, and are used to alter the flavor of what has been cooked. Not exactly a compliment to the chef. A salt cellar, however, is a true compliment. The cook seasons the food to their liking, and they serve it as-is. Giving a salt cellar is a great way to say, “I trust in your ability to make this taste perfect.” And finding a good-looking salt cellar is more difficult than you would think, this one is totally on point.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

2. Pepper Mill – $49
Same as with the salt cellar. And also, I know Jim Gaffigan does that routine about how nobody knows the difference between fresh and stale pepper, and it’s funny. But it’s not true. The difference is distinct.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

3. Oil Cruet – $99 
Olive oil needs to be shielded from light to maintain freshness, which is why most olive oil bottles are tinted dark green. But sometimes you want something that looks a little better and operates consistently. This copper oil cruet doesn’t over-pour oil, patinas beautifully and is something you can build your kitchen styling around.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

4. Food Processor – $49
I’ve had this food processor for a little over a year now and I totally dig it. It has a good capacity but isn’t so large that it takes up a ton of storage space. It has good power, sharp blades and good coverage.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

5. Hand Towels (Sold out. Here is another great one for just $4!)
I cook with a towel on my shoulder, and a pet peeve of mine is towels that push liquid around, instead of absorbing it. Jules bought me these last Christmas and they are my favorites. Great absorption and not overly bulky.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

6. Coupe Bowls – $8
I know these are labeled as “bowls,” but I want to expand your vision a bit. The sides are very wide and low, so they function more like a plate. And at almost 12 inches wide, these are the most versatile dinnerware I’ve ever owned, and they’re still my favorite after having them 3 years. Perfect for pastas, salads, and that planned out dinner you want to plate for your guests.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

7. Chef’s Knife – $144
If you’re a long time reader, you know I’m a Wusthof man, and have been for many years. But I’ve been using some other brands on and off lately and find value in each brand. One of my favorites right now is Shun (I realize I’m not blazing any trails with this – they’re already popular) and this 7-in Chef’s knife is as versatile a knife as you’ll find. Agile, precise and sharp sharp sharp.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

8. Pizza Stone – $49
If I don’t like kitchen tools that only do one thing, then why the pizza stone? Because “pizza stone” is only a name. Really it should be called a baking stone, because there’s so much more you can do with it than just pizza. I use mine for bread, oven fries, breaded chicken – anything you want a little crust on.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

9. Bluetooth Meat Thermometer – $104
I don’t believe in tech for the sake of tech, but some integrations just make a lot of sense. I can monitor my roast from anywhere in the house, so that I don’t accidentally turn it into charcoal during Sunday afternoon book time with the girls.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

10. Blendtec Blender – $288
This is one of the items that is on sale right now, and it’s definitely one to move on. We bought our Blendtec about 6 years ago on sale for $300. It still works today like the day we bought it, and we’ve made over 1000 smoothies with it (it has a counter). This is one of those things where you will definitely notice a difference from the typical $20-50 blender, and it will last you for years. It’s well worth purchasing at full price ($365), but is on crazy sale for only $190 right now.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

11. Stainless Cookware – On sale for $167!
I own a couple of nonstick pans, but everything else is stainless (or cast iron). I share this set for two reasons – first, it’s also on crazy sale (usually almost $700!?!). Second, it has the thick aluminum base for quick and even heating. And third, I LOVE cookware with glass lids. Sometimes you want to see what you’re cooking but don’t want to release the steam and lose your momentum. This is a great cookware set.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

12. Serving Platters – $16-$28
When you make that picture-perfect roast, salad or side, you want it to be presented well at the table. Jules bought me these platters (she bought me one of each size) 2 years ago and I use them almost every meal. They’re classy, not flashy, and let the food be the star. They are my hands down favorite platters we have.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

13. Kitchen Scale – $13 
Following a recipe by weight, as opposed to quantity (grams vs. cups, for example) is the best way to ensure you’ll end up with great results (measuring flour in a cup will always yield a slightly different result every time). Nowhere is this more true than in baking, and I love using this scale for my bread.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

14. Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven – $51
Y’all. This is another awesome deal. This dutch oven is normally $120, and I cannot say how much I love it. I have this one and also a Lodge, and they are my favorite cooking pots. All the heat benefits of cast iron, with a low maintenance enamel coating. They’re also awesome for baking bread.

CLJ Gift Guides: For The Cook

15. Sonos One Smart Speaker – $179 
This one may seem out of place, but it’s totally not. I listen to my slow jams every night while I cook. For a long time I used the Amazon Tap, but the sound quality was pretty lackluster. This Sonos speaker has Alexa built in to it, so I can get the features of Alexa with way better sound quality. Not all features work right now, but they’re always updating and it will just get better and better.

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What do you think?

  1. Katie says:

    I love my shun but found I hardly touch once I recieved my misen knife. It holds a beautiful edge and is the perfect weight.

  2. Shera says:

    I have enjoyed your gift guides, but I must admit I am totally digging your slow jams playlist. It’s like a little Christmas gift for me to have something new and amazing to listen to. Thank you!

  3. Do you own and use regularly the meat thermometer? My husband and I are avid cooks, and we go through leave-in thermometers like water…not really, but they usually only last 2-4 cooks (these are $20 from the supermarket, nothing fancy). We have a Thermapen instant read which is awesome, but their leave-in is pricey. The one you listed is much more reasonable, so I’m wondering about your experience with it. We are so tired of buying new ones! Also do you use two probes at one time in the grill (one to monitor the actual grill temp and one for the meat)? I’m sorry. So many questions!

  4. jodi says:

    Hi there, could I ask a cooking advice question?! I love making homemade pizza, and i have a pizza stone…but I have the hardest time getting the pizza onto the hot stone to get into the oven! (it sticks or flops on top of itself or tears in half…i could go on and on:) I purchased a wooden pizza peel, thinking it would magically make it easier, but i run into the same difficulties with the pizza peel! do you have any advice? I’d love to use my stone for pizza! Thanks.

    • Chris says:

      Do you use flour/corn meal on the pizza peel before adding the dough? I use a medium-fine grind cornmeal on my peel, but I first roll out the dough on the counter in regular flour. Then I lift it up by hand onto the peel with the cornmeal, add the toppings as quickly as I can (taking care not to get any sauce, oil or toppings on the peel as this will cause problems with sticking) and slide it onto the stone in the oven with a slight jerking motion.

    • Maybe this is totally cheating, but we just use parchment paper. Roll the pizza dough out on the counter on parchment paper, lift the edge to slip the peel under it, and slip it onto the stone with a quick jerking motion (the pizza will stick enough to the paper that it will come off in one piece). When finished, you can use one hand to lift the edge of the parchment paper and the other to slip the peel underneath and remove from the oven.

  5. Amy says:

    Great guide! I’m especially loving those towels, I have such a hard time finding good ones that absorb as well as I’d like, and crappy towels drive me nuts! I think I’ll be buying those for myself for Christmas ;)

  6. Elyse says:

    Chris, this is a GREAT gift guide, well done! i SWEAR by those kitchen towels – they are life-changing (and not ugly) and we recently got a Shun Nakiri Knife for chopping vegetables and a paring knife and have been blown away by its quality (and sharpness!). Might need to upgrade the Victorinox Chefs knife for this… The only thing I would add is an instant-read thermometer. I love the Thermapen. Thanks for not cluttering this up with random accessories. No one really needs a specialty avocado knife, nor has the space for it.

  7. Bethany H says:

    I just put half of this list on my wishlist. Thanks for the compilation!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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