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Yes, I know, it’s getting very late for Christmas shopping. Still, I haven’t finished my shopping, and I’m betting at least a few of you haven’t either. If you order in the next few days – and in some cases pay a bit extra for shipping – many companies will still guarantee delivery by Christmas. Anyway, someone may read this next holiday season. So let’s proceed, shall we?
For many people, their shift to a low carb diet has not only changed their health, but their cooking habits – which is to say, they’ve started cooking. Here are a few cooking tools that this low carber finds endlessly useful.
Everyone Deserves Decent Knives
First of all, if you’ve been getting by with mediocre knives, you have no idea how much really sharp ones will change your life, or the life of your lucky recipient. I have knives you could shave with, and am often frustrated when I try to cook in other people’s kitchens.
The best knives are carbon steel. This is a little softer than standard stainless steel, which sounds bad, but is actually glorious. Why? Because standard stainless steel is so hard it’s difficult to sharpen. Stainless steel knives are sharp when new, but when they inevitably dull it is hard to get a good edge on them. Carbon steel, on the other hand, takes a wicked edge. This Sabatier 10″ Chef’s Knife will do 90% of what a knife needs to do, and do it brilliantly. You’ll want a knife sharpener for that knife – I got this one for Christmas a few years ago, and love it.
On the other hand, celebrity chef/writer/traveler/professional smart-ass Anthony Bourdain said in Kitchen Confidential that the new Japanese knives were super-sharp, and so cheap that when they dulled you could just throw ‘em away and buy another. That’s certainly the case with these, and the color is totally cool, too. This would make a great stocking stuffer.
Everyone Wants a Cuisinart Food Processor
Has your favorite low carb cook been getting by without a food processor, or limping along with a cheapo model? It might be the perfect time to upgrade their model or get them their first professional food processor. I love, love, love my 14 cup professional grade Cuisinart. A decent food processor makes everything from shredding cauliflower for cauli-rice to making your own coconut butter quick and easy. (Note: The model of Cuisinart that I own has been discontinued; this was the closest I could find. Has some features mine doesn’t, actually.)
There are also a wide variety of Food Processor accessories that you can choose to complete you favorite low carb cook’s collection.
Set It & Forget It: Ronco Rotisserie Grill
Does your favorite low carber eat a lot of simple roasted meat? Consider giving a rotisserie. My Ronco Rotisserie Grill is one of the few infomercial items I have actually called up and ordered at full price (I have others I have bought at the Goodwill, off Craigslist, or otherwise cheaply), and I am happy to report that it works exactly as advertised. Turns out a terrific chicken, a stellar leg of lamb, a terrific pork roast, even a wonderful turkey if you buy one small enough to fit. All the salient bits fit in the dishwasher, too.
If you prefer to go buy a rotisserie at a local store, one word of advice: Buy one that turns horizontally, not vertically. Why? Because it keeps the juices evenly distributed in the meat.
Step Up to Sous Vide Supreme
In my first gift shopping article, I suggested electric contact grills and slow cookers, but of course many people have these already. (I have three slow cookers – in a house with two people. Such is the life of a cookbook author.) On the other hand, most of your friends and family very likely do not own a Sous Vide Supreme (SousVide Supreme web site or Amazon.com). What the heck is a Sous Vide Supreme? It’s the home version of a cooking technology used in high end restaurants - especially, as the name implies, in France – for a while now. It involves vacuum sealing food in plastic, then cooking it for a long time – as long as 72 hours – in a water bath kept at much-lower-than-usual temperatures, lower than slow cookers by quite a bit. This turns out particularly succulent, flavorful food. It also allows you to put Sunday’s roast in to cook on Friday, with no worry that it will be overcooked.
Foods cooked Sous Vide do not brown. Chefs generally brown them quickly with a high flame broiler, a very hot skillet, or a Bon Jour Culinary Propane Torch.
Only the Best Frying Pans
If you know a low carber who is just starting out, it’s hard to go wrong with a Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned Skillet. On the other hand, if your favorite low carber is learning how to make an omelet, their performance will dramatically improve with a Le Creuset 3-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Omelette Pan. That’s a really good one, by the way, but even an inexpensive one will help, so long as it’s the right shape and has a good non-stick surface. If you’re worried about non-stick, you could go for the new ceramic non-stick pans.
Other Kitchen Gadgets
Here’s a gadget I don’t have yet, but definitely need. These Bear Paw Meat Handlers look like they’d make the job of transferring a turkey to a platter a whole lot easier. And apparently they’re great for pulling pork. Who doesn’t love pulled pork?
I got a EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen Scale (see Andrew’s Review here) for Christmas a few years ago, and I use it constantly. Particularly helpful if you are fat fasting, or otherwise have to be very precise about portions.
A couple of stocking stuffers: Every cook needs a Microplane Classic Zester/Grater. I got one free in the green room at QVC years ago, and was amazed at how much easier all sorts of grating tasks became. I need to buy another, since my old one is getting dull. Not replacing it is not an option.
Another kitchen gadget I cannot live without is the Avocado Slicer. I am generally against single-use kitchen gadgets, but this one performs a potentially messy and annoying kitchen task so neatly and efficiently that I rapidly wondered how I had ever gotten by without one. All avocado-loving people need one.
Then there are the basics that simply wear out, get dirty, or otherwise need replacing now and then: Silicone spatulas, vegetable peelers, hot pot holders. My mom used to put this sort of thing in my stocking every year.
Are you helping someone set up a low carb kitchen? What are you giving or getting this year? Share in the comments below.