Every family treats stockings differently. Some families, like mine, go with small stockings, packing them with a modest number of little gifts, maybe a few bits of candy or chocolate to act as filler. Others, like my in-laws' family, put up gargantuan stockings, and cram them with all sorts of stuff—last year, I received toothpaste, shampoo, hand sanitizer, a six-bottle hot sauce sampler, a bag of beans, maple syrup, a set of socks, a tie, and at least two dress shirts. In the stocking!
No matter how your household treats the tradition, and even if your family doesn't do stockings at all, here are some suggestions for relatively diminutive gifts that will still be a big help in any kitchen. And, of course, we always have more where these came from.
A Microplane grater is a perfect stocking stuffer: It's thin, relatively inexpensive, high-quality, and incredibly useful. When I first got mine, I shredded an entire block of Parmigiano-Reggiano, just because it was so satisfyingly easy. But this tool doesn't just make quick work of cheese. It's ideal for zesting citrus fruits, or for grating a whole range of other ingredients—nutmeg, ginger, garlic, and flavorful pasta toppings like bottarga.
In my own kitchen, I've found that the easier a thing is to clean, the more likely I am to use it. That's why I'm especially appreciative of how easy it is to take apart and clean these kitchen shears—after all, they're used to break down raw chicken, which means thorough cleaning is a must. But a great pair of shears serves many purposes: This pair can also crack nuts and open stubborn jar tops, and it even features a built-in flathead screwdriver. The only caveat is that we've found them to be pretty unwieldy as a bottle opener, but then again, there's a good chance the recipient will already have that area covered.
I'm one of those people who would have scoffed at the idea of a citrus press not too long ago, arguing that your hands are in fact perfectly designed to allow seed-free juice to pass cleanly through the slits between your fingers. Except that's not exactly what happens, is it? A little juice goes through, sure, but often you're left with a puddle in your hand, which you then have to figure out how to pour off the tips of your fingers without letting a stray seed take the plunge into your salad dressing. Unless you love the drama of a will-he-or-won't-he waterfall scene, you'll want this citrus press to get the most out of your lemons and limes: less mess, less waste, more juice, no seeds.
I really can't recommend this thermometer enough: It is one of the best products at its price point on the market. It's accurate and compact, and it takes only a few seconds to get a reading; as a bonus, it's kind of cute.
The perfect gift for those who like to pack their lunch, these freezable lunch bags will maintain refrigerator-like temperatures for up to 12 hours. They're particularly great for the summer, when they can double as handy beer-carting containers, or when you want to bring meat to an afternoon barbecue in the park.
For a long, long time, I relied on a Jacques Pépin trick for scaling fish—namely, using a leftover clamshell instead of a dedicated fish scaler. While the clamshell works, it pales in comparison to the effectiveness of this Yoshihiro fish scaler. The bronze head is quite heavy, which means you use less downward force when scaling the fish, and something about the design of the teeth reduces the number of scales that fly up. It's the perfect gift for the avid fisherman or -woman in your life, or for those who like getting their fish whole and intact from the fishmonger.
I don't know a single cook who wouldn't appreciate getting one, or even two, of these timers in their stocking this Christmas. They are light, easy to use, and loud. Whoever receives one will never overcook their boiled eggs again.
But Wait, There's More!
See the rest of our stocking-stuffer picks right this way »
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