What to buy your favorite cook for the holidays: 2006 Buyers’ Guide

I was hoping to write this up well before now, but cat illness followed by family illness changed my plans. My apologies–I know this won’t really be in time for the bulk of holiday shopping, but perhaps it can still help out with birthdays, last-minute gifts, and the all-important choice of what to spend your gift certificates and holiday money on! Without further ado, on to a handful of gift suggestions.

Gadgets & Conversation Pieces

If your favorite cook already has plenty of the basics, one alternative is to give them something a bit different and interesting. Specialized items, or items of unusual design, are a good option.

Cuisipro Tea Infuser: I know this is a suggestion from last year, but I can’t help including it again because it’s so darn fun. This little gadget looks like some sort of alien device, but it’s actually a very handy little tea infuser. Great for folks who like to make their own tea from loose leaves, and who enjoy confusing guests. [Read Review]

The Senseo Coffee Maker: If the foodie on your list loves their cup of gourmet coffee on the run, the Senseo might make a nice little gift. Just make sure you pick up the refillable coffee pods and, if possible, one of the oversized water reservoirs–these things make the Senseo much better in practice. They keep the user from having to refill the water as often, and allow him to use his favorite coffee in the gadget. [Read Review]

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker: I went crazy making ice cream this year for various occasions, so I have homemade ice cream on the brain. Trust me: it’s a lot better than store-bought! [Read Review] (You might also want Bruce Weinstein’s Ultimate Ice Cream Book to go with that.)

Cookbooks

Who doesn’t drool over the delicious and unusual food in some of the more interesting cookbooks out there? Everyone’s different of course, so try to make sure you know what your favorite cook likes. What kind of food is she partial to? Does she prefer coffee-table cookbooks with elegant photos? Does she like cozy, homey, old-time favorites or modern styles? Again I’m repeating a couple from last year’s suggestions because they’re just that good, but I promise new ones as well.

“Everyday Celebrations,” by Donata Maggipinto: This book strikes a wonderful balance between the desire for elegant entertaining and the wish to fit cooking into a busy and stressful lifestyle. Wonderful for the busy cook on your list who likes to feed her friends. [Read Review]

“Biscuit Bliss,” by James Villas: If your favorite cook has a hankerin’ for bread products or has never quite been able to make biscuits, shortcake, and scones come out right, this is the perfect cookbook! [Read Review]

“Hot Chocolate,” by Michael Turback: What can I say, this has to be the perfect little gift-book for extremely adventurous chocoholics who need a new fix! [Read Review]

“Cookwise,” by Shirley O. Corriher, is the ultimate gift for the cook who’s fascinated by the how and why of cooking. Ms. Corriher is a food scientist, and does an amazing job of providing insight, warmth, and genuine good food! [Read Review]

“Caramel,” by Peggy Cullen: Chronicle cookbooks tend to be high on both production value and taste, and that makes them wonderful gift cookbooks. “Caramel” is one of their best, filled with some of the most delectable desserts I’ve ever tasted! We come back to it again and again, year after year. [Read Review]

“The Thanksgiving Table,” by Diane Morgan, is another perennial favorite. This is the perfect time to get it, as it has been reprinted! I’ve been through the reprint and it’s a lovely addition to any cook’s collection. [Read Review of the original.]

Quality Cookware

How better to surprise your favorite cash-strapped cook than by gifting them with some true high-quality cookware?

Lodge Logic Cast Iron: For some folks, there’s nothing in the world like cast iron for certain tasks such as cooking burgers or steak. The skillets we reviewed come pre-seasoned! [Read Review]

Swiss Diamond Skillet: For those who can’t stand stuck-on messes, there’s the high-tech Swiss Diamond skillet–as nonstick as you’re likely to find! [Read Review]

A set of Cuisipro Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls: There’s just nothing like these heavy-duty bowls with their wide design and flattened bottoms. I use them preferentially over all of our other bowls whenever cooking. [Read Review]

I hope you’ve found these suggestions useful, and with a little luck I’ll get next year’s suggestions out much earlier!

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