Stocking Stuffers: Tools for the Cooking Life

As my kids grew up and got their own apartments, I started giving them kitchen tools that were featured on my blog as stocking stuffers. These were specialized tools above and beyond the typical measuring spoons and cups.

My list of specialized cooking tools includes:

Instant Read Digital Thermometer:  This thermometer works quickly and accurately. The digital screen can tilt back and forth. 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 as it cannot be left in the oven during the cooking process.

From: DIY Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese (aka Labneh)


The Microplane Fine Grater: I use this tool to zest citrus or to 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/limes without getting seeds or pulp into the juice. I also use it to squeeze the juice directly over fish, vegetables or 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 my 10-inch whisk with the narrow head because it gets into the recesses of a saucepan when making gravy and also along the sloping sides of a bowl when mixing dry ingredients. The barrel handle stays cool to touch when stirring hot foods. I tend to use my Kitchen Aid when whipping cream or egg whites, where lots of air incorporation is needed.
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 I make labneh (a spreadable yogurt cheese).

From: My Favorite Silver Palate Chili

From: DIY Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese (aka Labneh)


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 for just one ingredient.

From: Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts

From: Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

From: Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970


Pie Crust Shield: I make a lot of pies, and I want the bottom crust to be fully baked without burning the top. Covering the edge of the crust while it bakes shields it from browning as the bottom crust continues to cook. Another thing I do to encourage the bottom crust to cook is to bake the pie on a pre-heated pizza stone.

From: Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie


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

From: How to Make a Thaw Detector for the Freezer

And then there are these tools that sit on my windowsill every December:


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

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

3 thoughts on “Stocking Stuffers: Tools for the Cooking Life

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