Archive for Product Reviews

Christmas Gifts and Stocking Stuffers for Foodies and Cooks

Those of you who are more organized that I have been this year may already be done with your Christmas shopping. In that case, I hope  you will still enjoy this peek into my kitchen and the brief reviews of my favorite kitchen tools.

For those of you are still trying to figure out gifts for those last few people on your list, here are some ideas for those cooks, tea snobs, foodies and real food enthusiasts in your life. (Or, if you ARE the cook and foodie in your life, and you want a handy list to share with those people who are running behind on gifts for you, that works too.)

Most of these gifts are available on Amazon, and will still get here in plenty of time for Christmas with Amazon Prime free 2 day shipping. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, this is the perfect time of  year to sign up for a free trial.

 Stainless Steel Ginger Grater

(This link is to a very similar grater to the one I have; Amazon doesn’t seem to carry the exact brand of ginger grater I own.)

I picked up this ginger grater on clearance somewhere for a couple of dollars. When it came it looked like a ridiculous little gadget, and I really wasn’t sure how often I’d use it, especially since fresh ginger is something I buy occasionally and not a staple in my kitchen.

From the first time I tried it I was hooked.

It makes a very quick job of grating a few tsp of ginger for tea or flavoring water kefir and other ferments. (It get a little uncomfortable to hold if I need to grate a larger amount of ginger, but that’s a fairly rare occurrence for me.) It also works well for zesting an orange, and would probably work as a nutmeg grater and for lots of other such small jobs.

The grater I linked to on Amazon is about $6, which is well worth it for a small and versatile kitchen tool, and makes it a great little stocking stuffer.

Perma Brew Tea Infuser (Tea Toby)

As far as I have been able to discover the Tea Toby is the ultimate way to brew a single cup of loose leaf tea. It snaps closed and doesn’t leak tea leaves into your cup of tea (unless you catch some tea leaves in the seam when you close it, which isn’t really the fault of the infuser at that point).

I like the fact that I can fill it with tea and throw it in my suitcase, or even my pocket, and be ready to brew a serving of medicinal tea, peppermint tea, or my favorite chai at a moment’s notice.

It’s about $7 on Amazon, so small and cheap enough to qualify as a stocking stuffer, or it could be included in a gift basket of loose leaf teas.

Small Mesh Strainer  

This is a seriously high quality little stainless steel strainer. It costs about $13, but it comes with a lifetime warranty, and I’ve used mine for about two and half years without it showing any signs of wear. I bought it while I was on the GAPS diet, to use for straining pulp out fresh juice by the glassful, and it quickly became one of my most frequently reached for kitchen utensils.

I use it when straining spices out of water kefir or kombucha after the second ferment, straining my cold brew tea into a glass or new jar, straining cold brew espresso, and other misc. occasions of “I have particles in my drink that I don’t want there”.

It fits perfectly into the top of a glass, mug or quart jar without needing to be steadied as I pour through it, and the fine mesh does a good job of straining most things well. (You might get some small dust like particles when straining tea, but I haven’t had a big problem with that with most teas.)

Bamboo Cutting Board with Cutting Mats

I used to have this set of cutting boards (which cost about $6 on Amazon), which I really liked because of the ability to store several cutting boards in a small space in my apartment kitchen. They even lasted pretty well, as it took over a year of heavy use (probably an average of being used once or twice a day) for the fruits and veggies cutting board to start falling apart.

The problem I had with my original set of cutting boards was that they would fall down between the side of my fridge and the cupboards if I wasn’t very careful when putting them away (in the only reasonably accessible storage spot I have for cutting boards in my small kitchen).

I’ve only had the bamboo cutting board (which cost about $20) for a few months, but it’s already demonstrating all the advantages of my original set of cutting mats, with a few important bonus features.

It comes with even more (color coded) cutting mats, so I can use different mats for raw chicken, raw beef, raw pork, veggies, bread and cheese, plus a plain black mat for serving food on. The variety of mats helps prevent cross contamination while storing in a small space AND all the mats store conveniently INSIDE the bamboo cutting board, so no more plastic mats slipping down into hard to reach cracks!

Also, the bamboo cutting board has a lip around the edge to prevent juices from the chopped foods going all over the counter. Plus, the cutting mats feel more heavy duty than my original set of cutting mats, so they should last even longer. (A set of replacement mats to fit in the bamboo cutting board can be purchased for about $13.)

Aerolatte Milk Frother 

While the other items I mentioned are mostly very practical kitchen tools that I reach for often as I cook, this one is pure luxury. At $26 it’s stainless steel with a 5 year warranty (there are also lower price options with no warranty where the housing is made from cheaper metals) and indispensable for any coffee lover who likes to whip up fancy coffee drinks with as little fuss as possible.

While I can’t say that this milk frother has worked flawlessly, most of the problems I’ve had with it in the past have been due to battery issues which are not the fault of the frother. (The more juice in the battery, the better and faster it froths, while low quality batteries or mostly used up batteries cause it work slowly, poorly or not at all.) The first one I was shipped did have a manufacturing flaw which affected its use, but Amazon quickly replaced it without any fuss.

The beauty of this tool is in its simplicity. It fits in my utensil jar on my counter, so about two minutes total I can pull it out, froth milk for a latte or a steamer, rinse it off, set it in the dish drainer to dry and enjoy my fancy hot drink.

Bonus Idea: Cast Iron Skillet Maintenance Kit

This one works as a stocking stuffer, as a small extra to add to a larger gift of cast iron cookware, or just as small gift for neighbor you know could use it. It could work for newlyweds, for seasoned cooks who can always use more dish scrubbers, or for those who you think need a little help understanding how to take better care of their cast iron.

For the cast iron maintenance kit you’ll want a nylon scraper (I have these, which are simple but heavy duty, but there are a range of options available, including this more elegant bamboo scraper), a plastic scrubbie (you can make one yourself, buy them in bulk on Amazon, or buy them individually at your grocery store), and a green scouring pad (also available in bulk on Amazon
or in smaller quantities at your grocery store). Optionally, you could also include one of these scrub buds for the really tough cast iron messes.

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