Cooks on your list must be among easiest to buy for


Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all those sweet deal days are behind us. I wonder what happens after the post-Thanksgiving holiday weekend? Are all the prices hiked up immediately to full retail? Is there no hope of getting gifts for people on the cheap until the after-Christmas sales?

My email inbox says otherwise, with burgeoning piles of junk mail arriving round the clock promising all manner of savings, though none of the big kind I like to see. I don’t think you can get people excited about 10% off anything. I want half off; I’m not interested in saving 5% on remaining 2023 calendars. Something else I’ve seen being batted around the internet: We have all pretty much grabbed the cheap big-screen televisions. Please lower grocery prices if you really want to help.

The cooks on your Christmas list must be among the easiest to buy for. If you have any kind of knowledge of what their special area of interest is, you’re all set. Someone who likes to make pizza at home would probably like a pizza stone, a good cookbook with tasty dough recipes or even a pizza cutting wheel.

Someone who jumped on the sourdough baking bandwagon during the dark shut-in days of 2020 may be ready to really take their game to the next level. There are some excellent books out there to help, but I would add a list of YouTube instruction videos to the wrapping. You can learn a great deal from watching people step through the mysterious kneading and folding and fermenting. It has certainly helped me.

If you’re feeling quite generous and you have serious meat lovers on your list, perhaps keep an eye out at It’s a farm in Fresno, Ohio that offers workshops in learning to make cured meats in the European manner. This would be a fun adventure and a heck of a gift to receive.

I always urge good knives as gifts, as they’ll be used for decades and then passed to a new generation. We have Warther Knives nearby, and there are many artisan knife makers scattered around the country. There also are blade-sharpening tools and systems that are infinitely useful. In the same line, no cook will be unhappy with a heavy-duty, well-crafted, large-size cutting board.

If you’re thinking of gifting cookware, I would avoid pieces by off-brand makers that are thin and cheap feeling. “Nonstick” is a term thrown around by a lot of manufacturers, and much of it is garbage. The coatings are paper thin, and those I’ve had no choice but to use burned everything and were by no means nonstick. Whatever stuck to them created a permanent black burn in the coating. Just about any pan can be used without food sticking if you’re doing things correctly. Go instead for heavy-bottomed pieces with sturdy handles and tight-fitting lids.

If you want to buy something for a cook but that cook is not someone you plan to spend a lot on, let me recommend a big package of kitchen towels like those used in restaurant kitchens. You can buy them by the dozens for cheap, and cooks tend to go through them at a fast clip, tossing them in the wash one after another.

Aprons with funny sayings on them are fun, but I think most of us have a closet full of them.

Cooks are easy to buy for, if you know your cook fairly well. If you don’t, you can always buy some oven mitts, known at my house as “grabby hots.”

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