AndyTalk: Top 10 Things Not to Give a Cook

Categories: Chow Bella
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Make that 11.
Tis the season ... to celebrate, give thanks, trim trees, light candles, and for many of us to buy a few gifts. Are you shopping for someone who loves to cook? It's hard to sort through all the options If you don't know your way around the kitchen. Part of picking a good gift is making sure you don't give a mathom - which was Tolkien's word for under-used and not-quite-appreciated items that are likely to be re-gifted.

Last week I offered suggestions about what to buy the kitchen obsessed. This week I'd like to tell you what not to buy.

What follows is my current list of ten things not to get for someone who loves to cook:

10. Do not buy a large inexpensive set of something.

A big set of bad knives simply gives the user all sorts of ways to slice badly. A set of cheap Teflon pans will be a set of scratched semi-stick pans in six months. Don't buy anything you see on TV if the deep voice urges you to "buy now and get two for the same low price."

9. Do not buy a cookbook with a non-food theme.
I have a Friends Cookbook that I've never even leafed through. So we're clear, it's not a book of Quaker recipes. It's based on the old TV series. If your friend is a serious cook don't get her a gag gift cookbook.

8. Don't give something made of plastic.
There are probably a lot of exceptions, but cooking is natural and organic. There are issues about whether some plastics leach into our food. Glass, ceramics, and stainless steel don't react with food, and they're green. If you take care of them they last forever. Plastic is the wrong kind of forever. Note: silicone is not plastic, and there are a lot of great silicone utensils and they're reasonably priced.

7. Don't give a holiday-themed cooking gift.
By definition it won't be used until next year, and only if the recipient remembers he still has it. Such gifts are strong candidates for next year's office gift exchange.

6. Don't give highly decorated potholders.
A person trying to take a turkey out of the oven doesn't need to contend with all sorts of animal appendages hanging off an oven mitt. And, such dangling modifiers are destined to become encrusted with food, and then bacteria.

5. Don't give a vacuum sealer unless it's for someone who's been wishing for one.
If you really want to give the gift of food storage get some containers that are oven and microwave-proof and stackable as well.


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14 comments
Joe Blow
Joe Blow

Yeah, Crockpots are basically a waste of space and money, but a George Foreman grill is *way* more useful than a waffle iron..

SlowCookedCAM
SlowCookedCAM

I almost thought this writer knew something about cooking.WRONG!!  Crock pot is very necessary to the everyday cook.Maybe when you have some time you ought to look up the history of the slow cooker before you write anything more.HO HO HO.

Gabe
Gabe

Bowlnoodlezz & Blair said it, but I'll reiterate. Most people who like to cook would appreciate a crockpot/slow cooker. I speak from experience.

Lynn
Lynn

Ah, but a crock pot is a wonderful vehicle for mulled wine (keeps it at the perfect temperature), so the cook has something cheering to sip while doing fun things in the kitchen :-)

Bowlnoodlezz
Bowlnoodlezz

"Don't get a slow cooker for a cook."

Are you serious?

Blair
Blair

I agree with everything except the Crock Pot. It's great for braising large cuts of meat--Deb from Smitten Kitchen even uses hers to make brisket--and it saves you energy rather than using the oven. Crock Pots are hip again!

Evey Bendalin
Evey Bendalin

I agree emphatically about the ten "no's" to buy a chef/cook.  I am really into less is better.  I have even given away good pots and pans because how many can you use at one time.  I am also against utensils for 'one use only'.  Loved this week's blog and loved last week's also.  Evey

Andy Broder
Andy Broder

To all of the crock pot comments: a crock pot is a great time saver, and it has a place in most kitchens.  Yes for mulled wine and cider; yes for some soups and stews, and pot roasts (noting that you might want to brown the meat and saute' onions and other veggies first because cooking in oil/fat before adding all the wet stuff adds a lot of flavor).  I HAVE A CROCK POT.  The issue is not so much about whether a crock pot is a good thing - the question is whether it's a good holiday gift for a "cook."  Give one to a busy parent cooking for a family, or to someone who has asked for one.  But, for the cook on your list I think that you ought to give a gift that has a chance of enhancing the cook's repertoire.  (If I'd been asked to blog about kitchen gifts that save time for busy people I'd have included a crock pot)...

Dancydoldrum
Dancydoldrum

I have to contradict this statement. I am a professional "cook" and I work so much that I don't have time to cook at home. In my house, the crock pot is used almost every week. PS..a good tip for a perfect pot roast? Crock pot my friend.

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