The Cook Who Has Everything

Even if Mom has a well-stocked kitchen, she'll appreciate these presents.

These days, I keep this solid slab of steel permanently atop one of the burners of my stove. One side has a pebbled surface—ideal for getting extra-crisp, better-than-a-baking-stone crust on homemade pizzas. And unlike a baking stone, this thing is going to last forever. The griddle arrives as shiny steel, but with just a few uses, it seasons up into a dark, slick nonstick surface that Mom can use for everything from pancakes to eggs to hamburgers to grilled cheese.  — Kenji

It may sound nuts to mail-order cornmeal and grits, given that they're found on any supermarket shelf. But I'd argue that you haven't experienced the best cornbread, grits, or other classic Southern dishes until you've had them made with the kind of high-quality stuff Anson Mills is selling. It'll change how you understand those foods and what they can be.  — Daniel

Kentucky-based writer Ronni Lundy is an expert on the foods and foodways of the Mountain South. In her latest book, Sorghum’s Savor, she explores the history and folklore, and the many uses, of the region’s staple sweetener. Recipes range from fried chicken to sorbet.  — Keith

The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or at any other time precise temperature control is needed. With a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds, you won't find a better, easier-to-use thermometer out there.  — Kenji

My good friend and former Food & Wine coworker, Kristin Donnelly, runs this awesome lip balm company called Stewart & Claire with her husband, Phil. Every lip balm she makes uses great ingredients that you wouldn't hesitate to smear all over your mouth, but even cooler are the scents she comes up with, many of them inspired by foods and cocktails. Recently she teamed up with the talented folks at Death & Co, a great NYC cocktail bar, to develop three limited-edition scents. I've been walking around with "Smoky" in my back pocket for the past couple of months: It's inspired by the smoky scent of Scotch and mezcal cocktails, using smoked olive oil, along with citrus and spice notes, to achieve that effect. It's like a mezcal Negroni or Rob Roy for your lips, but subtle enough to sit under your nose all day.  — Daniel

A bean is a bean is a bean. Or is it? We promise that once she gets started, Mom will fall in love with high quality, freshly-dried beans, and their vast variety of flavors, textures, and colors. Some are starchy, some are nutty, some are earthy, and some are slightly sweet. Rancho Gordo is one company that sells some really cool ones to try.  — Daniel

Calling all lovers of bittersweet drinks! In terms of flavor, Barolo Chinato is somewhere between vermouth and amaro, but the best chinati are more delicious than either of those. Even the fanciest vermouths are usually made with a basic, cheap white wine, while the base for Barolo Chinato is certified DOCG Barolo wine—that is, 100% Nebbiolo from the Barolo region in Piedmont, which is then mixed with an infusion of herbs, spices, and bittering agents. I love this one from Cappellano.  — Maggie

Another essential kitchen tool, the Microplane grater does fine grating work way better than those tiny, raspy holes on a box grater. Whether you're quickly grating fresh nutmeg or cinnamon, taking the zest off a lemon, or turning a clove of garlic into a fine purée, the Microplane is the tool to reach for.  — Daniel

Native to Cincinnati, Ohio, goetta (pronounced "get-a") is a sublime beef and pork sausage made with steel-cut oats (as opposed to the cornmeal used in its close cousin, scrapple). Glier's is one of the biggest and best producers of the German-style pork product. Just slice it, fry it, and serve it for the ultimate Mother's Day brunch with eggs and toast.  — Keith

Sorghum syrup is made from the pressed juice of sorghum grass, which grows prominently throughout the American South. This amber-colored syrup has a unique nutty flavor that's both sweet and savory. And since the 1960s, the Guenther family of Muddy Pond, Tennessee, has been making some of the best.  — Keith