List | Tried and true gifts for the kitchen

Every year I consider publishing some Christmas gift ideas — can’t resist a list! — but … I’m such a minimalist shopper that nearly all I own in the kitchen I’ve had for years, if not decades, so I’m the last person to ask about the newest gifty things and gadgets that have just come out!

Well precisely, perhaps. All of the things listed here have proven their usefulness and resistance over many many years. They are also, not incidentally, beautifully designed, and using them makes me happy every time — which is nearly every day.

Contrary to my list of coveted cookbooks, this guide features only things that I already own, that I’ve used for years and that I take pleasure in using, however mundane the task. So for a change it isn’t self serving (!), it’s intended purely as inspiration.

All of these I would give or have given or have received, I think each one makes an excellent gift (and I’d be happy to receive some of them again… Ha, self serving after all!).

POTS AND PANS

LODGE cast iron skillets — I use only cast iron skillets, I don’t own any others anymore (except a specific crêpe pan) and I’ve never missed them. There are other beautiful brands but I love the simple ‘undesigned’ Lodge look. It’s a classic brand and very reasonably priced. Our little nestled collection of four is used daily and serves our every need — we have a 12 inch, 8 inch, 6.5 inch, and 5 inch skillet.

Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pots — It’s a little unfair to start by saying that I’ve secretly coveted a large Staub cocotte for years… BUT Le Creuset is an indispensable part of our kitchen. We have one basic 4.2l round casserole, a large 7.5l oval casserole great for slow braising lamb and pork shoulders, and a shallow 3.5l casserole that is super useful for vegetables.

KNIVES

An amazing Japanese knife that is only taken out a few times a year to cut steak tartare, smoked salmon, or raw fish for sushi or poke bowls is completely worth it and a stellar present. (With a specific mention for the excellent shop that is Kitchen Provisions.)

But so are these (much more everyday) Opinel knives. They fold up completely and can be used at home as well as for picnics. They are indispensable and ubiquitous in every French household, and everyone has a preferred size. I love the smaller blades (no.06) for everyday picnic use, but I am also pretty smug about my enormous fairy-tale ogre’s no12 knife. Most people like the more standard no8. The knives all come in a choice of stainless steel (easy maintenance) or carbon steel (sharper), and different types of wood.

TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES

The Classic Swiss vegetable peeler may look unremarkable and even a bit uncomfortable with its sharp-edged metal handle, but these are hands down my favourite peelers. The blades are sharp and have the right angle, the handle is easy to hold, they just work the best. And personally I think they look nicer than other more ergonomically designed ones.

Mason Cash original white pudding basins — These are mixing and serving bowls rolled into one. They may not be the most resistant and durable of available kitchen bowls (I have a few metal ones too), but they are so useful and versatile, and tactile. I use them to mix bread dough, cake batter, to serve salads, and as chips bowls for apéro!

TABLEWARE

Sturdy Duralex glasses used in school cantines (and many other places) all over France for decades have now become ubiquitous elsewhere. My favourite style is the Provence tumbler (160ml / pictured above). It is harder to find than other designs but I think it’s more elegant, and suits well for a glass of wine.

Falcon tumblers — All Falcon enamelware is lovely and classic and covetable, but I am especially partial to these tumblers which we’ve been using assiduously this past year as our favourite picnic (wine) glasses.

Shanagarry Egg cups — The children gave us these beautiful eggcups for Christmas last year and I’ve only just realised they are a classic design by Stephen Pearce from the Shanagarry Pottery in County Cork, Ireland. This ignorance didn’t preclude them from becoming the only egg cups we grab in the morning, and we really do use them every single day at breakfast. I love them very much.

Ok, I can’t resist, here is ONE thing I don’t own that I would love to have one day… because anyone who has come to our house can tell you that while we are decently adept in the coffee department, our tea selection/equipment/paraphernalia is deplorable. And we’ve lived in London for eight. years. already!!

Happy gifting shopping!

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