Here are a few ideas for food-related gifts, in rough order from less to more expensive. Some of these I have, and some I wish I had (hint hint!).
Prep bowls. Help your foodie friend feel like a pro. Stackable clear glass prep bowls come in larger and smaller sizes. One medium sized bowl is about $1. I have some 1-cup bowls, some tiny ones, and a couple that hold about 1-1/2 cups. Very useful. Available at most kitchen stores including Bed Bath & Beyond.
Fancy ingredients. An unusual ingredient is sure to inspire. I’m excited to have just received as a Christmas gift a beautifully wrapped set of two oils and a vinegar from Vom Fass, a supplier of specialty condiments. In the Iowa City area, Bread Garden Market and New Pioneer Food Co-Op have pink HimalaSalt, and Bread Garden Market has nicely packaged Fleur de Sel, French sea salt. Check your local upscale markets for potential gifts.
Unique measuring tools. I recently received a pair of shell measuring spoons as a gift, and they’re just plain fun to use. Available online at Anthropologie, $12. Anything unique or pretty for measuring could find a special place in someone’s kitchen.
Cookbooks. Maybe your foodie would enjoy a new cookbook. Here are some that have come out in the past year. These are sold at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen, by Amy Pennington, with photos by Della Chen, published this year and made popular by Gwyneth Paltrow. Around $14.
The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, by Elana Amsterdam, of elanaspantry.com, a popular gluten-free Web site. This book has lovely photos, and Elana’s version of gluten-free cooking is nutritionally very high quality and very tasty and light. Even those who don’t need to avoid gluten can enjoy these recipes. I made her drop biscuits the other day, and they were wonderful. I think almond is going to be my new favorite flour. Around $12.
The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century, by Amanda Hesser. I’ve liked any New York Times recipe I’ve ever used. What fun it would be to have a whole book of them. Around $25.
Kitchen Calculator. A calculator that can figure in tablespoons, teaspoons, cups, pounds, ounces—any increment you’d find in a recipe. I love mine; it’s a KitchenCalc Pro. Available at Amazon.com for about $30.
Online meal planning subscription. When my sister gave me a 3-month gift subscription to Relish! (relishrelish.com) I thought at first she’d wasted her money. I tried it out and fell in love with the variety and use of fresh foods, plus the automatically generated shopping lists. This is not for everyone, but a techie foodie might really take to it. A 3-month gift subscription is $21. A 3-month gift subscription to Gfree (gfreecuisine.com), a companion site that’s gluten-free, is $30. This could be a lifesaver last-minute gift.
Brulee torch. A brulee torch, for caramelizing sugar on baked custard or flan, is a luxury item I don’t use very often, but it’s fun to have on hand in case I want to dress up a simple dessert. These should be available at any kitchen store, or you can get them online at Amazon. ($16 to $30)
Ice cream maker. An ice cream maker is another luxury item that’s nice to have on hand. It’s fun to be able to make special flavors like kiwi, grapefruit, or anything else you can think up. Mine is an older model Cuisinart that works well and is fairly easy to use but is no longer available. Ice cream makers are $45 and up at Amazon.com.