I’m having a Charlie Brown moment as I type. Basically this post is saying, “Buy this stuff!” I can see the disapproving look from that bald-headed curmudgeon as clear as the black chevron print on his goldenrod shirt. Did anyone else just put two and two together that chevron is basically Charlie Brown’s shirt? I hope the Schulz family trust is seeing some of this action. So, though I know Charlie B. would roll his eyes, I present to you, the 2015 Kitchen Gift Guide.
Yes, there is more to the holiday season than gifts, but they sure are fun! And it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options that you could end up making a sock bunny at 11:59pm on Christmas Eve. So, if you have a cooking enthusiast in your life, here are some ideas for the perfect gift. Or, it could be the wish list you “accidentally” text to your loved ones. It’s your call. 😉
By the way, this guide is basically a tour through my kitchen, and at least half of these things were given to me as gifts. I accidentally text my loved ones a lot.
2. Cuisinart 14-cup Food Processor – Michael gave me this model as a gift over 6 years ago, and it’s still going strong! I use it several times a week and consider it indispensable.
3. Lodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven – Confession time. I don’t actually own one of these. Michael gave me a Le Creuset for Christmas a few years ago, and I use it almost every day. But, one costs the equivalent of a car payment, and one is much less than that. So I went with the one that has great reviews but also won’t make you gulp when you see the price. 🙂
4. Tramontina 12″ Nonstick Skillet – Alton Brown told me that this is what chefs use in professional kitchens, and it’s cheap. So that’s good enough for me. Makes a fantastic tofu scramble, I might add.
6. Cuisinart 1 1/2 Quart Sauce Pan – For gravy, or a simple tomato sauce, or to warm almond milk, or to reheat leftovers, or a million other uses. This is just a great pan to have in your cooking arsenal.
I have been wanting to REALLY get into bread baking for a long time. I have everything I need to do it, I just need to DO IT. Maybe you know someone who is the same way, or they just need the gear to get started. Here it is.
1. Danish Dough Whisk – this is a super useful tool for mixing up batters and doughs of all kinds. I reach for it most every time flour meets a mixing bowl in my kitchen.
2. Tartine Bread and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day – Tartine is a famous bakery in San Francisco that makes these amazing naturally leavened loaves. One time I waited in line to buy a loaf (it sells out within minutes of the daily bake) and brought it home in my backpack. Michael bought me the Tartine Bread book a few Christmases ago, and I have admired it but haven’t tried the process (yet). For shame. This changes very soon. Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day utilizes the popular no-knead method and I’ve baked a few things from this book, and definitely want to dive in more often.
3. KitchenAid 6 Quart Professional 600 Series – Another Christmas gift from Michael (spoiled alert). He got it for me the year that I made hundreds of cookies for our respective families – AFTER I’d made them all by hand. I’m still considering forgiving him. 🙂 This is definitely the higher-end of the stand mixer world, but if you have a baker or wannabe baker in your life, this is the workhorse they’ll need.
4. Rubbermaid 6 Quart Storage Container – When you make a big bunch of bread dough, it needs a place to rise, and for the no-knead methods described in the Healthy Brad in Five Minutes a Day book, the rise is done slowly in the refrigerator. This container is super useful, and affordable enough to grab a few.
5. OXO Good Grips 5-Pound Food Scale with Pull-Out Display – Baking requires measuring stuff by weight. So you’ll need a food scale. This is a great one, and I use it all the time. I love the pull-out display.
6. Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker – This is the baking vessel recommended in the Tartine Bread book. I haven’t actually used it yet, because I have a Le Creuset dutch oven, which is the second-best option recommended in the book. I suggest this if you don’t already have a dutch oven or a cast iron skillet, because this is both! I love multi-taskers like this.
Chances are there is a coffee snob in your life. I am in this club, and I’m not ashamed to say it. Add a pound of their favorite coffee (whole bean!), with you’ll be good to go.
1. Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder – This is the first of many coffee equipment gift that Michael gave me, 7ish years ago. It still grinds perfectly.
2. Cuisinart Electric Kettle – We use this every day, multiple times a day. It heats water super quickly to the perfect temperature, which is perfect for, let’s say, brewing in the French Press. Speaking of…
3. Bodum Chambord 8-Cup French Press – This is our go-to weekend coffee brewing option. This makes enough for 4, but we still end up drinking it all between the two of us. And then we’re all hopped up on caffeine to keep up with the kiddos.
4. Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine – This is last year’s gift from Michael, but even he admits it was more of a joint gift. He is really good about doing his research before making a big purchase, and he chose wisely. The Amazon reviews speak to this as well. I go back to my days as a barista (15+ years ago, gulp) whenever I pull a shot with this beautiful machine.
5. Chemex Series 6-Cup Glass Coffee Maker – Confession: I don’t own a Chemex. But I’ve always wanted one (hint, hint). It’s like fancy drip coffee, really. You put a filter in the top and pour the hot water (from the electric kettle, of course) over the top, and the coffee brews into the bottom reservoir. Simple, beautiful. But where would I put it?
Ah, cookbooks. They are my reading material of choice. Which is to say, I don’t read a lot. These are four options that I highly recommend for the cook in your life who wants accessible plant-based recipes that taste incredible. I’ve made several recipes from most of these books, and none have disappointed.
1. The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples by Miyoko Schinner – my current favorite cookbook. Thanks to Miyoko, I am learning how to save money and eat better by making most of my cooking staples from scratch. Vegan butter? You’ll never buy Earth Balance again. Vegan mayo? THREE options (oh, and I’m working on my own version, btw). Chocolate cake mix to die for? Yep. Just…get this book. It’s wonderful.
2. Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – Isa is famous in the vegan world, and this is her most recent book. It’s fabulous, and we have so many recipes flagged to try, I don’t think I’ll ever get to them all. I’ve made several already, and have repeated some as well. The caesar salad is amazing, and honestly worth the price of the book.
3. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page – this is a wish list item for me, and it’s one of those books that I can’t believe I haven’t bought yet. I think it’s because I know I’ll get lost in the possibilities. But that doesn’t stop me from recommending it to anyone who seeks to find more flavor in their vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and more.
4. The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon – Oh She Glows is a ridiculously popular plant-based blog, and this is the first cookbook of the same name from author Angela Liddon. It is absolutely chock-full of healthy and delicious recipes, not to mention stunning photography. It’s another one that’s got post-it notes screaming “Make me!” from every other page.
Of everything that I use in my kitchen adventures, these are a few of my favorite things (besides raindrops on roses, of course). They are the workhorses that lead to the recipes here, and cooking would be harder without them.
1. Blossom Trivet – I just love these. They are multi-functional, beautiful, and seemingly indestructible. I have the red and green already, but I have to admit that I want one in every color, especially the purple.
2. KitchenAid 3-Speed Hand Blender – It is my ever-so-humble-opinion that every kitchen should have this immersion blender. They are SO USEFUL. Make a big batch of soup and blend it to creamy perfection right in the pot. Blend up a salad dressing in the provided container or a wide mouth mason jar (my favorite). Grind spices. Make smoothies. Puree baby food. The list goes on and on.
3. Microplane Zester/Grater – I love this little gadget. It zests citrus like a dream, getting just the outer layer with none of the bitter pith. It shreds garlic and ginger into a fine pulp that practically melts into whatever dish it is destined for, and makes perfect little chocolate shavings. In short, it’s a wonderful tool and I love it.
4. Instant Pot – Oh, how I love this machine. It’s one of those “do-it-all” devices that you just don’t believe CAN actually do it all, but in this case, the promises are true. I will admit, just like any tool, it has a slight learning curve, but the results are worth the trials. Pressure Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Slow Cooker (with sauté function!), Rice Cooker, and more – it deserves every bit of space it takes up in my kitchen. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
5. Le Creuset 7 1/4 Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven – This one is a splurge, for sure, but it’s also something that will last a lifetime. I truly hope to pass it on to my daughter one day when she has her own kitchen (sniff, sniff). It was a gift from Michael, of course, and I use it so often that it just lives on my stovetop all the time. It’s both beautiful and functional, and a worthy investment for any serious cook.
6. Ellie’s Best Bigger Better Nut Milk Bag – This one may seem kind of weird, but it’s just great and I had to share it. I haven’t talked too much about making nut milks here on the blog, but that will change sooner than later as I delve into it more at home. What I use this bag for most often is to strain yogurt to culture into sour cream. I’ve tried a few others, and this is my favorite for sure.
7. Vitamix Standard Blender, (Certified Refurbished) – Last, but certainly not least, my treasured Vitamix. I never thought I would ever buy a $400+ blender, but I did, and I use it every day, usually multiple times a day. The only drawback is that is LOUD. But what it lacks in quiet, it makes up for in POWER. Green smoothies with not a speck of leaf to be seen, silky cashew cream ready for any recipe, cauliflower pureed to perfection. These are just a few of the many ways that I use this fantastic machine that is worth every penny and more. The model I linked to here is certified refurbished, still under warranty, and a bargain compared to a brand new machine. Also, the Vitamix site offers payment plans, which I just learned recently. Score!
Well, I think I went a little overboard with this here gift guide. Once I got started it was hard to stop, because almost every one of these items was given to me as a gift, and I hope they might be given to someone you love who will enjoy them as much as I do.
Merry Red Cup Holiday! May it be filled with freshly baked cookies made with love, whether by hand or a stand mixer (Michael, you’re forgiven).
P.S. An important note here if it’s not already obvious. The links shared here are affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase via one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping me continue to provide free recipes and other resources here! I appreciate you so much.