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Spicy Gift Ideas For Cooks

Seems that both Nancy Leson and I are into heavy metal for gift giving this time around.  

"There's one piece of equipment that I adore, and that's my Lodge 15-inch, pre-seasoned cast iron skillet," Nance says.

She loves it because, well, it turns out that size does matter after all.

"You can fry a whole chicken. I can do several fish filets at once. I can make pork schnitzel for my entire family at one time," Nance says.

My top recommendation is metal and 15 inches, too.

It's the new pizza steel I mentioned last week. I was a little dubious at first, but the thing really delivers the heat and, combined with the Reinhart dough recipe, produced a noticeably lighter and higher edge and crust that were both crispy and flexible. The Dough Joe model I got from Amazonseems to be missing there now, but there's lots of others and I can't imagine there's all that much difference between them.

So? What Else?

Nancy suggests stuff like a bottle of good olive oil, hazelnut or walnut oil. "These aren't horrifically expensive," she says, and much more fun than that tired old standby, a bottle of wine. Another idea: fresh green sriracha sauce made by Four Seasons Gourmet Food, a local company. Nancy says it's "absolutely delicious."

And cookbooks always make a great gift. Nance suggests "World Spice at Home" by Seattle's World Spice Merchants. You can pair it with the flavor companion, a set of 16 jars of spices and blends the recipes call for.

In the not-so-expensive department, I suggest a good pair of poultry shears. I just got one from Oxo and as I mentioned to Nancy, they're so strong and sharp, you could spatchcock a 747 with them.

Throw Away That Grill Brush!

They're dangerous. It's not an urban legend. People all across the country are ingesting the metal bristles they can leave behind in the food. Instead, for the griller on your list, give a wooden grill scraper. I got one and it works great. Who needs a  team of docs with metal detectors and sharp implements bending over their body while they writhe in pain?

Now, Something Pricier — And Completely Different 

Got an extra three or four hundred bucks burning a hole in your designer bag? How about a truffle hunting excursion with the Truffle Dog Company,as described in a recent post by KPLU's Martha Kang. These guys will take you on a hunt with their trained truffle hunting dogs  — or train your own dog to do it.

Happy everything, eaters. And remember to save the wrapping paper.

"Each day provides its own gifts."

–Marcus Aurelius

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.