Over the past few weeks I’ve been receiving emails asking for advice on Christmas gift giving ideas for 2011, so I thought I’d share this post with everyone. Below you’ll find my top 8 gifts for the person who love to cook or who are interested in becoming more comfortable in the kitchen. I know from experience that there are certain things you must have to make your recipes blossom. Like measuring cups, a scale, the right pot and other conveniences which make putting recipes together a breeze.
Kieana who loves baking will tell you that her measuring cups are probably her best friends when it comes to baking the perfect cookie (she’s making some chocolate chips cookies as I type this). She’s not like her grandma who’s hand and fingers doubles for measuring devices as her averages are usually spot-on. I’m sure your mom and grandma are the same way, especially if you’re from the Caribbean (these women never measure anything with cups and spoons and their food is always ah bess).
In the list of gift giving ideas below I’ll show you an image of what I’m speaking about as well as a link where you can get more info on each product. Simply click on the images and you’ll get all the info you need to see if that item would make the perfect gift this holiday season for those on your list. Or you can send you’re loved ones to this page.. hint! hint! Tell them you don’t want socks this Christmas. And tell those teenage kids of yours that macaroni crafts just won’t cut-it this year.
1. Lodge Color 3-Quart Dutch Oven. Absolutely nothing beats cooking in one of the traditional iron pots we use in the Caribbean, but I must admit that I love my enamel dutch oven I purchased a year or so ago. If you’re looking for perfect results when stewing meats as we do in the Caribbean, these sort of heavy dutch ovens can’t be matched. Soups, stews and even rice and peas comes out perfect every time! I just love cooking up a batch of curry goat in it as well… the even distribution of heat, makes for perfect braising (even in a curry sauce) and your curry goat will be falling off the bone with tenderness. Click here >> Lodge Color 3-Quart Dutch Oven to learn more.
2. Krups 203-42 Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder with Stainless-Steel blades. The mortar and pestle will never be replaced in the kitchen, but the electric grinder is surely taking it’s deserved place in the kitchen. I just love the scent of toasting geera seeds (cumin) on the stove top, then using my electric grinder to pulse it to the perfect powdered form for making dhalpuri roti or geera pork. How about the aroma and freshness of freshly ground coffee brewed to perfection?
At under $20, this spice and coffee grinder would make an excellent Christmas for yourself or anyone on your list this year. Click Here >> Krups 203-42 Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder with Stainless-Steel blades
3. Progressive International Deluxe Potato Cutter. Growing up we never had those frozen sticks they parade in the freezer section of the grocery store they call fries. Other than the crap you get at McDonalds (must admit I love them hot) we always have fresh cut fries at our house. I’ve never had the frozen fries you get pre-packaged as far as I know and though the cutting of the potato is a bit of work, it’s one chore I don’t mind. With this potato cutter you’ll find that not only will you make less work of cutting the potatoes, you’ll have the perfect size and shape every time. One piece of advice I must give though.. try to get a baking potato like a Russet for the ultimate in fresh cut fries. Click [full info] >> Progressive International Deluxe Potato Cutter
4. Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome by Cuisinart. As you all know, I’m not a huge fan of using an electric blender when making Callaloo as I’ve stated when I shared that recipe recently. However, there are so many other uses for this kitchen gadget that I just had to include it on my list. Just think about making a curry pumpkin soup and achieving a level of creaminess you couldn’t before. Soups, shakes, sauces, dessert toppings and even mashed potato will turn out perfect every time. My personal favorite is to puree frozen fruits like mango and strawberries into a healthy shake in the morning. Click here >> Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender for more info.
5. Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker by Hamilton Beach. It’s funny how we all associate the slow cooker with a busy lifestyle and in many instances that probably true. You wake up before work, place the food in the slow cooker, program (time to start, temp and end time), then head out to work. As you and your family return home, you have a wickedly hot and delicious meal waiting for you guys. Personally I make use of the slow cooker when I’m trying to get tough pieces of meat like goat, oxtail and stubborn beef, tender. I brown the oxtails, then add it with it’s seasonings and anything else I want it to simmer with into the slow cooker and allow it to do it’s thing patiently. Soups, stews, chili… even rice and peas is always a hit when I use the slow cooker. If you’re considering sending this as a gift this Christmas or maybe you could use one, remember to consider the size of the family and how they’ll be using it. What I mean is… will they benefit from a programmable one or not (if they’re people who’s on the ‘go’.. they’ll thank for for the programmable setting). Click Here >> Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker by Hamilton Beach for more info.
6. Piece Stainless Steel Set by RSVP. When you’re trying to document recipes for others to follow, especially when it’s coming from a Caribbean background where measurements were never used (a little of this and a little of that), you’re best friends are the measuring cups and spoons you have available. The same can be said if you’re new to cooking and find it a bit intimidating. It’s hard to screw up a dish when you have a good recipe to follow and the right measuring cups and cooking utensils. Trust me, this will be the BEST kitchen investment you can make (it’s less than $25). Click Here >> 7 Piece Stainless Steel Set by RSVP for more info.
7. Tefal ActiFry FZ700015 Low Fat Electric Fryer. This is the one thing I’m begging Santa for this year (memory eh all that good, but I think I was a good fella this year). I first saw this about 2 years ago when it was just being launched to the general public and though it was a bit cheaper then… I’d still like to get my hands on one. Imagine making fresh cut fires (yes FRIED) with just one tablespoon of oil? Yes, unheard..right? With the technology built into this electric fryer, you’re as close to making deep fried good for you. I’ll confess that I have a love affair with fried foods and my waist line shows… rather than cutting those foods entirely from my diet, I know I can make them a bit healthier. It’s a bit expensive, but it may well be worth the price. Click Here >> Tefal ActiFry FZ700015 Low Fat Electric Fryer for more info.
8. Wall Mount Grocery Bag Holder, Brushed Stainless Steel by Simplehuman. If you’re from the Caribbean or have friends from the Caribbean I’d like you to say yes or no (in the comment section below). Do you have or have you seen a bag in their kitchen cupboards with a bunch of other plastic store bags? I recall my mom having one and to date we had one until recently when we now have a mounted container like this one. We Caribbena people love to save plastic bags we get from stores… we probably perfected recycling when it comes to plastic bags (no lie). This attractive and handy wall mounted bag storage unit will bring you into the modern age! So are you shaking your head in approval (my question about collecting bags)? Click Here >> Wall Mount Grocery Bag Holder, Brushed Stainless Steel
by Simplehuman for more info.
There were a number of other things I wanted to include in this list, but we’ll leave those for next year. I do hope you find this post informative and don’t stick.. you have a few days left before the big morning, so get cracking.