8 Kitchen Gift Musts for the Home Cook

Filed Under: Food and Drink

Heather published a post today entitled Practical Gifts for New and Aspiring Cooks and as I went down the list, I kept noticing stuff I have in my kitchen. And then I started sending Heather links of stuff I liked that she didn’t have on her list and I had planned on just leaving a comment but I realized the comment would consist of like ten links so why not just write a post and link it?

And yes today IS the day of the run-on sentence brought to you by a sinus infection and Mucinex.


Oxo Good Grips i-Series Y-PeelerOxo Good Grips i-Series Y-Peeler-$11.19

Growing up, I always used a Lancashire peeler – though I didn’t know it was called that until I just Googled it. [The kind where the blade is in line with the handle.] You probably have one in your drawer right now.

I saw this Oxo Y-Peeler a few days after my Lancashire peeler ate it and decided I’d give the strange looking gadget a try. And I’ll never go back to a “regular” peeler again. The y-peeler makes it easier for me to maneuverer around wily vegetables. You gotta watch out for those wily vegetables, let me tell ya.

Stanton Plastic Cutting Board$11.50 and Parquet End Grain Cutting Board-$24.99

Stanton Trading 12 by 18 by 1/2-Inch Cutting Board, BlueWhen it comes to cutting boards, you have three options: plastic, wood and glass.

I’m not sure why so many people use glass boards when they dull the hell out of your knife but people do. Don’t be one of those people.

So you’re left with two options: plastic and wood.

One of the cool things about plastic boards is you can bleach them if you’re so inclined and you can put them in the dishwasher without having to worry about them cracking. They also come in lots of pretty colors; you can have all the colors of the rainbow just like Skittles or something. Eventually your board might get “fuzzy” from all the cuts in the board. My board’s fuzzy; I just bleach the crap out of it and then it takes a shower in the dishwasher.Totally Bamboo Zambia Parquet End Grain Cutting Board

Wooden boards don’t get fuzzy like some plastic boards will but they’re a bit more challenging with regards to maintenance/care.

Wooden boards shouldn’t be put in the dishwasher because of the extreme heat. All that water and soap and heat will wreak havoc on your board’s grain – it’ll get raised like a flag on a flag pole – and it’ll dry the board out. You also run the risk of cracking the board.

To clean my board, I scrub it with hot water and soap[2], dry it off with paper towel to make sure it’s dry and then I wipe it with a liberal amount of white vinegar. If I was cutting up onions or garlic or something like that, I usually pour on some kosher salt and give it a good scrubbing. Once your board’s clean and purty, you can use mineral oil on it to keep the board from drying out. Do NOT use cooking oil. Just don’t do it.[3]

Product Image J.A. Henckels International 4-pc. Paring Knife SetHenckels 4-pc. Paring Knife Set-$18.39

When Tucker and I moved back to Arkansas after the Navy, the Navy actually moved us back…and lost a ton of my kitchen stuff.  Of course, the stuff they lost included knives I used on a daily basis. I have small hands and finding a knife that fits is like trying to find a mountain in a mole hill. Um…that’s not right. It’s like trying to get water from a stone. Hmm…not that one either. It’s hard. There. Sheesh!

These Henckels are inexpensive and small and sharp and they’re brightly colored and they make me happy. You should get some.

Henckels 7-Inch Santoku Knife-$79.99

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Four Star Series 7-Inch Santoku Knife with Hollow Edge

Mom got me hooked on Henckels and she actually gave me her set of knives so I’ve become well acquainted with them. That and the name is fun to say.

This Santoku knife is well balanced and isn’t TOO big for my hand. It’s a smaller knife compared to most you’ll find and is multipurpose so you won’t have to change knives that much.

The scallops help reduce food’s “grip” on the blade but for me, mostly they just look cool. I know this blade’s a bit pricier than some people are going to want to pay but it’s worth it and sometimes you just have to pay a bit more for something nice.

Taylor 1470 Digital Cooking Thermometer/TimerTaylor Digital Thermometer/Timer-$14.39

Heather put this in her post but I have to include it in mine. I’ve picked this thermometer up at Target back in 2004 or 2005 and I still use the thing at least once a week and haven’t changed the batteries since I got it.

Stick the probe[4] into a slab of meat, stick the meat in the oven and then set the timer to tell you when the meat has gotten to the temperature you want. I alway set it to a couple of degrees below the handy temp guide of the back of the thermometer and let the carryover cooking take care of the rest when the meat’s resting.

Oxo 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set-$17.99OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set

These are my favorite measuring cups.

The angle makes it easier to get an accurate amount of stuff and you don’t have to get all down at eye level and stuff and worry about the meniscus or any of that.

Plus they look cool.

I do wish the handles came in pretty colors though. Then again, I’d end up with like four sets of these. Tucker would be none too pleased.

Oxo Good Grips 3-Piece Stainless-Steel Mixing Bowl SetOxo Mixing Bowl Set-$39.59

I don’t have these mixing bowls but I have fondled held them and Mama want.

If you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for Oxo. Their stuff is well constructed, lasts through all the crap I do to them and all their stuff is just pretty to look at.

These stainless steel bowls have plastic on the exterior – hence the white – to help prevent temperature exchange like you get with a plain stainless bowl. The bottoms are nonskid so you don’t have to resort to the ole damp-towel-on-the-counter-under-your-bowl trick. The biggest bowl is 5 quarts and the smallest is 1.5 quarts.

Like I said, I don’t have these. Hint. Hint.

I have no doubt I’m leaving things off of my list that I like and use but this is what I have right now and it’ll have to do.

Happy cooking.


  1. [1]Read that in the Iron Chef announcer guy voice.
  2. [2]But I never put it in a sink of water since the wood will soak up that water and screw with the wood.
  3. [3]Unless you like the smell or rancid oil on your board and on your food. If you’re into that kinda thing then have at it.
  4. [4]Heh.