New couples building a household for the first time need many things, and often the wedding guests’ thoughts turn to the kitchen for gift ideas. A gift for the kitchen is a terrific choice, but when choosing it there are a few considerations. First, make sure that it is useful to your recipients – a Trident boning knife is probably not too useful to a vegetarian. Secondly, stay away from specialty items that are only useful for a single kitchen task – they take up lots of valuable space and they serve limited function in the kitchen. Finally, be aware of how well established the recipients’ kitchen already is and what they need.
10) Kitchenaid Mixer – Expensive, but it will last them the rest of their lives. Kitchenaid mixers are every cook’s dream, doubly so if they are bakers. The use of the Kitchenaid mixer does not stop with baking, however. The attachments available include meat grinders, sausage stuffers, ice-cream churns and many others. If there is a single tool at the heart of the kitchen other than a good stove, the Kitchenaid mixer is it.
9) Kitchen Scale – Invaluable to bakers and very useful for all cooks, a high quality kitchen scale is something that no kitchen should be without, and one that most household cooks do not have. Traditional beam scales can be beautiful and they are very nice and super accurate, but they are the most expensive. Digital scales are super accurate and there are a number of aesthetically pleasing ones on the market now. They tend to range from around $50 – $100 for good ones.
8) Thermometers – There are a wide variety of thermometers that are useful in the kitchen in an equally wide range of prices. Every cook needs an instant read thermometer. The characteristics that shoppers should look for are a narrow probe and a clear digital readout. The best ones are made by Thermapen makes the best ones, though they are also the most expensive. Candy/Fry thermometers are also valuable, and most of them are of the analog variety, relying on a glass tube filled with a colored liquid to tell the temperature. There are some digital models on the market, but they tend not to last as long as the straight-up old-fashioned varieties. Additionally, the ambient temperature in the kitchen environment is valuable to know too, especially when making breads or other fermented products, so consider an old timey wall thermometer.
7) Toaster – The stereotypical “bad” wedding gift can be made very special by picking out the right one. Do not go with the Walmart special, but consider a Magimix Vision with clear glass sides or a beautiful Dualit. Again, these are not economy gifts, but they are beautiful and they will remind the recipients of you every morning around the time their coffee is ready.
6) Coffee Gift Basket – Do not go with the deluxe Mr. Coffee variety – no matter what dear old Joe DiMaggio said, it doesn’t make good coffee. Besides one or the other of them probably has a plug-in dripalator. Go for a French press or a Chemex drip pot. Then get a high-quality coffee mill of some sort and throw in a bag of really good coffee from a local roaster. What a great gift to wake up to!
5) Barbecue – This may seem like a “groom’s gift”, but it’s not: Think of all the spring and summer dinners that the kitchen won’t be heated up! Weber kettles are still around for one reason – they are excellent cooking tools. If you want to go more upscale, you can find all sorts of great barbecues at your local mega-tool store, like Lowe’s or your club store. If they are charcoal fans, go with a Big Green Egg, or you can be the one to convert them to clean-burning propane!
4) Slow Cooker – This is an oft overlooked tool that no kitchen should be without. We still think of the Rival Crock Pot when we think slow cooker because they were among the first and they are still excellent, but more upscale products are on the market now that offer built in timers, temperature control and temperature change functions. Check out the All-clad model for starters.
3) Television – A small to medium sized flat-screen TV is a great gift for the kitchen for the cook who likes to be in his or her kitchen. They will want a wall-mount set-up, so include that in the gift, and if they have a kitchen computer, include the Wi-fi hookups for that too. That way they can pull their favorite recipe up on the 38″ screen and not have to keep popping back to the computer for reference!
2) Pickle Crocks – Antique ones with the pottery weights are the best if they are actually going to be used for pickling. If you are a European traveler you might find a beautiful old confit jar in a similar spirit. These make great décor and places to store every-day kitchen tools or they may be used to put up big jars of old-fashioned pickles, sauerkraut or kim-chee.
1) Stove – The true heart of the kitchen is a good stove, and if they do not already have one, it is the ultimate kitchen gift. Network with friends to make it a group gift. It may be a current top-of-the-line Viking or one of any number of less expensive but still great quality products now offered by numerous manufacturers. Or for an alternative with some heritage, consider a perfectly restored 1950s era Chambers or Hotpoint. They work better than most new stoves, and they are so very stylish.