Stocking Stuffers: Tools for the Cooking Life

As my kids grew up and moved into their own apartments, I started giving them kitchen tools as stocking stuffers. These tools are all specialized tools above and beyond measuring cups and spoons.

My list of specialized cooking tools includes:

Instant Read Digital Thermometer:  This thermometer works quickly and accurately. Last spring, when I was big into making yogurt, I gave each of my sons one for Easter. The instant-read thermometer should only be used to periodically check the temperature of roasting meat. It is not meant to be left in the meat during the entire cooking process.

From: DIY Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese (aka Labneh, Greek Yogurt)

The Microplane Fine Grater: I use this tool to zest citrus or finely grate cheese, ginger, and nutmeg.

From: Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies (best cookies on the blog)

From: Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

Citrus Squeezer: I use this tool to extract juice from lemons and limes without getting seeds into the juice. I also use it to squeeze juice directly over fish, vegetables, and pasta dishes just before serving.

From: Brooks’s Pork Tenderloin with the Most Amazing Marinade

From: Fettuccini with Rapini (aka Broccoli Rabe) and Garlic

Kitchen Scale with a “Zero-Out” Feature: This scale weighs food up to eleven pounds. Since I use eggs from my backyard chickens, I often weigh them rather than go by the number of eggs called for in a recipe. A large commercial egg weighs about two ounces. My chickens lay eggs that are less uniform ranging from one and a half to three ounces. Once I had a four-ounce egg (OUCH!). I use the scale to weigh vegetables, nuts, fruit, flour, and meat as I develop recipes. The scale costs about $50, so it may fall into the category of “an under the tree” gift instead of a stocking stuffer. I’ve had my scale for five years, and it is still using the original batteries.

From: 50 Ways to Make a Frittata

From: Fruit and Nut Bread

From: Lisa’s Award-Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili

A French Wire Whisk (with a barreled handle)
I like this 10-inch whisk with the narrow head because it gets into the saucepan’s crevices when making gravy and along the sloping sides of a bowl when mixing dry ingredients. The barrel handle stays cool to the touch when stirring hot foods.
From: Foolproof Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Gravy

Fat Separator (with a food particle filter): Great for separating fat from meat juice when making gravy or chili. I also use my 4-cup separator as a strainer when making Greek yogurt.

From: My Favorite Silver Palate Chili

From: DIY Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese (aka Labneh or Greek Yogurt)

Basting and Pastry Silicone Brush: This gets a ton of use when I coat summer veggies or fish with olive oil before roasting. I also use it to lightly frost cookies before adding sprinkles. It goes in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
From: Baked Ziti with Eggplant

From: Easy Roasted Salmon with Olive Oil and Garlic Pepper

Meat Tenderizer Mallet: I’m big on flattening chicken breasts to help them cook more evenly. I also smash garlic or nuts with the mallet rather than dirty the food processor.

From: Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts

From: Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

From: Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970

Pie Crust Shield: I bake lots of pies. Covering the crust’s edge while the rest of the pie bakes keeps it from browning. I also bake the pie on a pre-heated pizza stone to encourage a thoroughly cooked bottom crust.

From: Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie

Thaw Detector for the Freezer: My husband adopted this simple device because when we were out of town, we were never sure if a power outage lasted long enough to melt the freezer’s contents. Now we know if the penny is on the bottom of the container, the food is spoiled.

From: How to Make a Thaw Detector for the Freezer

Check out this link for lots of holiday recipes!

And then there are these happy “tools” that sit on my windowsill every December.


Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

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