Bonnie Aeschliman: Cooking-related gifts for grads

05/14/2012 5:00 AM

05/16/2012 6:15 AM

With new graduates striking out on their own, what kinds of things would make great gifts for these young people as they are on the threshold of a new life? New grads often start with hand-me-downs from Mom’s kitchen, but they will appreciate having a few new things as they begin their new independent living.

How many graduates can make a meal for themselves or to share with a friend? Being able to prepare a simple delicious meal or pulling a homemade pizza out of the oven is quite an accomplishment and will be a skill they will use time and again. Perhaps the gift that would render the most benefit would be a series of cooking classes geared for the beginner. One thing for sure, he or she will be eating better and more economically. That is quite an accomplishment. Learning how to cook will be a lifelong skill — what a gift.

Setting up a kitchen is a fun project. Other gift ideas would include a good cookbook or two, quality gadgets, equipment and cookware. With the right tools, cooking becomes easier, fun and actually a form of entertainment.

A bare-bones kitchen would include a good set of measuring cups and spoons, whisks and spatulas, peelers, mixing bowls, cutting boards, cutlery and a cookware. Purchase quality products that will perform well and give excellent results.

For the measuring cups, measuring spoons and whisks, look for stainless steel rather than aluminum or plastic. Stainless steel will keep its good looks and will not discolor when washed in the dish washer. The better sets of measuring cups include six measures, including the two-thirds and three-fourths measuring cups. My favorite measuring spoons are called spice spoons because they are rectangular and slide easily into spice jars. They, too, have the one-eighth measuring spoon and the three-fourths measuring spoon in addition to the regular measures.

When purchasing spatulas, pass by the inexpensive ones. They will not last long. Have you ever had a spatula that was stained with tomato sauce and is impossible to clean? Or have you ever grabbed a spatula to stir a simmering sauce and it now has melted, ragged edges? To avoid those pitfalls, look for those that are heat-resistant up to 500 degrees; you can use them to stir hot liquids, and they will not melt. They also are stain-resistant, will have sturdy handles that will not come loose and will last for years.

For a clever gift, a basket of assorted kitchen gadgets along with a cookbook will entice that graduate into the kitchen — and you may be invited over for a meal. Or, at the very least, I bet you will hear about what was made with your gift.

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