10 Holiday Gifts You Should Never Buy a Cook
A Garlic Press
Forget single-purpose tools. Most are bulky, ill designed and irrational. The garlic press fits that bill. A well honed, sharp knife or even a Microplane will always be a better choice for mincing garlic.
A flat whisk for getting into those saucy corners of pots? Sure. But if you give me a whisk that looks like a squid or an egg, it will end up at the local dump. For most applications, a spare fork will do. But if you’re dying to buy your loved on a whisk, make it a small, wood handled beauty like this.
A Talking Meat Thermometer
Come on. Let’s get serious.
Plastic-Handled Pots and Pans
“Useless,” is the only word that comes to mind here. Say you’ve just finished searing off some beef cheeks for that perfect winter braise. Whoops: Better not put that pot in the oven because the handles will melt. No thanks. I’d rather cook everything in nonstick. And that’s kind of like pouring hot candle wax in my eyes.
Egg Separators, Egg Poachers, etc
Cooking an egg properly is one of a chef’s defining qualities; all you should need is a pot of salted water and a timer. Throw in an immersion circulator, a heavy-bottomed fry pan, and a few ramekins of various sizes, and my egg entourage is complete.
Here we have a kitchen tool that makes you look like a tool. Not only do these bad boys not work, as they trap the sulfuric acid in your peepers, but you’ll be the only kid on the block who can jump from your kitchen to a squash match with ease. To take the tears out of the equation, buy onions super fresh and refrigerate them for a couple of hours before you start slicing.
Puppeteer or cook–which do you want to be? Nothing will ever replace a trusty, dry, folded kitchen towel for handling hot pans. Oven gloves, particularly these cropped slippery silicone numbers, are sure to leave you with lovely wrist burns and render your opposable thumbs useless.
The “Brass Knuckle” Meat Tenderizer
A must-have on the aging hipster house mom list, this dorky kitchen paperweight won’t tenderize meat any quicker than a heavy kitchen mallet or a cast iron pan. So hang it around your rear view mirror, or better yet–bring it to your next bar brawl. Just keep it out of your kitchen.
It may work for a few weeks, but when it jams up, you’re in trouble. Wouldn’t you rather develop a relationship with a dependable, well crafted, manual peppermill? A cook’s peppermill is like his or her co-pilot. I’ll be dammed if you’ll find me casting away the adjustable grind of a Peugeot or Vic Firth for a trampy little electric number.
Artsy Lemon Juicers
It’s a lemon, folks. Roll it on a flat surface to extract the juices internally, slice it in half and bust out the reamer. Sure, the best tool for this job may not have the nicest name, but the citrus reamer is irreplaceable–that is, of course, unless you’re looking for a mantle piece decoration and conversation starter. Me? I’d rather get cooking.