Dedicated cooks always have a kitchen stuffed with appliances, pans and utensils. But most cooks can always use one more item, especially as
manufacturers use new technology and designs to make life in the kitchen a little easier.
I asked Don McMillan, a co-owner of The Stocked Pot, 381 Jonestown Road, and Ann Adams, a co-owner of The Golden Apple, 3458 Robinhood Road, for some of their favorite ideas for gifts. Their ideas are listed in order of price, from $5 to $130.
--Le Creuset Pie Birds, $5 each, The Golden Apple. Le Creuset has come up with a fun, attractive and practical way to vent steam out of pies. Just place a ceramic pie bird inside the pie before putting on the top crust. The dough will rest on the bird's shoulders. The bird's head will poke out of the center of the pie, and a hole in the bird's mouth allows steam to escape. The result is a crust that doesn't sag and that stays crisper. They also can help prevent leaks in the filling. The birds are oven, freezer and dishwasher safe.
--Mastrad Spice Tube, $7, The Golden Apple. This silicone tube with small perforations is designed to hold a bouquet garni of whole spices and sprigs of herbs, replacing kitchen twine or cheesecloth. Just stuff the tube with whole herbs or spices and drop it into a pot of broth or other liquid. A screw-on lid keeps the herbs or spices inside. It can resist heat to 250 degrees and is dishwasher safe.
--Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Crusher, $11, The Golden Apple. Some people might find this plastic and metal utensil easier to use than a garlic press -- or at least easier to clean. You may even prefer it to a knife. Just place a peeled clove of garlic on a cutting board, then place the perforated area of the crusher over the clove and rock back and forth. Within seconds, it will produce minced garlic. It's big enough to mince two or three cloves at a time.
--Microplane Grater, $16, The Golden Apple. The Microplane has been around for a few years. When it first came out, it offered a big leap in efficient grating of nutmeg, lemon zest and other items. It's still as great as ever, but now the handles come in a rainbow of colors. They include pink, purple, red, green, blue and yellow. On the practical side, the graters now come with a plastic cover to help keep the edges sharp and to prevent them from snagging on objects.
--Mastrad TopChips Chips Maker and Food Slicer, $20, The Golden Apple. As demonstrated on "The Dr. Oz Show," this product makes fat-free chips in three to five minutes in the microwave. You slice potatoes, apples or whatever you want to turn into chips on the mandoline slicer. Then place the chips on the 11-inch perforated silicone tray and place it in the microwave. After a few minutes, out come crispy chips without any added oil or other fat. The box includes a cooking chart for different foods. The trays are stackable, up to three high, and dishwasher safe.
--Joseph Joseph Nest Utensils, $25, The Golden Apple. This set of five, multicolored utensils features magnets that hold them together. A spatula, pasta spoon, slotted spoon and solid spoon all nestle conveniently in a ladle that performs double duty as a stand. The dishwasher-safe utensils can withstand temperatures up to 464 degrees.
--Fusionbrands Serve It Up Porcelain Base, $30, The Stocked Pot. This
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