Christmas Gift Ideas: Gadgets for the Kitchen
Just ahead of Cyber Monday, I’d like to share with you a few gift ideas for the kitchen. These are gadgets we use everyday at our house, and they’re all excellent values because of the time and money they will help you save. They make great gifts for friends, family, or for yourself.
If you enjoy club soda, the Sodastream is simply a must-have. There are few other products I can think of that provide as much convenience and savings.
Think about everything that goes into the process involved with store-bought sparkling water, especially the brands from overseas. They’re bottled in non-reusable plastic or glass. They’re extremely heavy and are transported around the world on cargo ships. They must then be distributed to stores via semi trucks. You have to physically travel to a store to pick them up, pay a premium, load them into your own vehicle, and eventually unload them into your pantry and refrigerator where they continue to take up space until you use them.
Or…you can fill a reusable bottle from your sink, place it into the Sodastream, press a button a few times and instantly enjoy a refreshing club soda.
We keep three carbonation tanks on hand, and when we have two empties we exchange them at the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond (almost always with a 20% off coupon). With the Sodastream, you control the carbonation level. Each tank lasts us about a month with four sparkling water drinkers in the family.
We’ve used the Sodastream model pictured above daily for over 6 years, and I won’t even bother calculating how many dozens of times this thing has paid for itself. Even if you don’t have quality tap water in your area, you’ll still enjoy hefty savings by starting with filtered water, purchased by the gallon.
It’s good for your pocketbook, reduces waste, and it serves up major time-saving convenience with every quart. 100% recommended.
The Instant Pot is seven devices in one, but truth be told, I only use it for one purpose: pressure cooking on the manual setting. I also have to admit, I have been completely and pleasantly surprised by how often I use this device, and how much I enjoy using it.
If you haven’t used a pressure cooker before, you may think as I did, that the main benefit is quicker cooking time. You’d be partially right, because while it cooks food quickly, it also delivers massive flavor. I can make soup in under 30 minutes, yet it tastes like it was slow cooked for hours and it sat in the refrigerator, flavors melding overnight. It’s that good.
I use the InstantPot at least a couple of times a week. Gone are the days of unevenly and undercooked beans and lentils…and they’re done in about 8 minutes. Brown rice is perfect in 22 minutes. I can make chicken soup from frozen chicken in just 15 minutes—perfectly cooked garlic, celery, and carrots, tender meat, and rich broth. Instead of cooking bone broth all day, you can have gelatinous perfection in under 2 hours. Or how about a pot full of perfectly steamed potatoes in just 5 minutes?
I can’t help talking about the quick cook times, but seriously, the flavor is intense and just as important to mention. I also like the fact that I can easily run this device on our backup power generator during our frequent and sometimes sustained power outages out here in the country. Also, pressure cooking temperatures reach about 250º F, which stays below the 300º F threshold that creates harmful compounds in food.
In addition to pressure cooking, the device also serves as a slow cooker/crockpot, rice cooker, sautèing surface, yogurt maker, steamer & warmer. As of this writing, there are over 12,000 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4.7 out of 5 stars—and I wholeheartedly concur. Instant Pot recipes are abundant and are now easily found on the Internet.
Silicone Cooking Utensils
For years—no, decades—I’ve abused my non-stick cookware and cursed all of the manufacturers for making such crappy products that don’t live up to their promises of scratch-free longevity. Inevitably, even when using plastic spatulas and spoons religiously, they end up scratched, looking ugly, and eventually in the waste bin.
Well, it turns out an inexpensive set of silicone cooking utensils would have saved me hundreds of dollars in non-stick pot and pan replacements. Who knew?
I purchased the set above a few months ago, and since then, no more scratches on our ceramic cookware set. Such an easy fix!
I was worried about these utensils being too soft and bendable to really offer control when flipping an egg or stirring a thick sauce. However, these are rigid enough for everything I’ve thrown at them, and they’re a pure joy to cook with.
These make a great stocking stuffer for the cook in your life, and they’re definitely worth picking up a set for yourself if you use nonstick cookware at all. Now that I know I won’t be throwing away more money on cookware, I’m considering purchasing one more set of ceramic cookware—either another one of these sets that held up well, or possibly this one, because I want the 12″ frying pan.
Ever since I started making my own oil-free salad dressings, my Braun Immersion Blender has become my best friend in the kitchen.
Most of my dressings include some combination of seeds, nuts, avocado, fermented vegetables, apple cider vinegar, spices, and another liquid such as salsa. This thing quickly transforms the ingredients into a delicious, creamy, nutrient-dense dressing ready to generously coat salad greens for a hardy meal or a nice side.
I could use a regular stand mixer to do the job, but the immersion blender is quicker and much easier to clean up. I do my blending in mason jars; just screw on the lid and leftovers are ready for storage. When blending oil-free mixtures, clean up consists of a quick rinse under running water and a couple of whirls of the blade. Done.
Dressings are my number one use for this device, but it also makes perfect homemade mayonnaise and whipped cream for the occasional treats. Healthy dressings, mayo, and whipped cream are relatively expensive when store bought, but the immersion blender offers far superior results along with total control of ingredients and portion sizes.
For example, when we make tuna salad for the kids, we can make just enough mayo for what we need, and we can use farm fresh eggs and good quality oil. No jarred mayo tastes better, period. We make whipped cream with organic heavy cream, honey, and vanilla beans—that’s it…and it tastes magical. Dressings, as I mentioned, are taken to a whole new level of healthy. This will be our go-to device for making our own fresh baby food as Benjamin grows, too.
The Braun is a well-built power horse, and has withstood near-daily use for years. The model linked to above comes with a whisk attachment that looks pretty handy, while more expensive models come with a mini-chopper that could be useful, too. We just have the stick, and it does the job, but for the price difference, I’d opt for the model with the whisk when purchasing again.
For the most part, kitchen gadgets are overrated and end up in the back of some cabinet rarely—if ever—to be used…but at our house, these have really become staples. They’ve all stood the test of time in our busy kitchen, and I can say without a doubt they’ve saved us time, money, and aggravation. If anything happened to them, I’d replace them quickly. Hopefully, you’ll like them, too. Most importantly, though, they deliver better results and make spending time in the kitchen even more enjoyable. Good health starts in the kitchen.
Have a Merry Christmas!