Edie’s essentials – culinary gifts for home cooks

While I was planning my upcoming cooking classes for January, I realized I have a few kitchen tools that I find pretty useful and that I often recommend using in my classes. Of course, you can go without them, but they really make cooking easier. Well, to some extend.

You could call them Edie’s essentials, and maybe they will become yours too.

I though it would be fun to list them. In case you are planning to attend one of my classes or know someone who is interested in learning to cook without recipes.

Or this short list might inspire you if you are looking for nice gifts for a home cook, since it is December.

There won’t be affiliate links, please try to support a small business if you can. It might be a bit more expensive or it takes a bit more time to get them, but you know what they say: When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance. I know I do!

What kitchen tools do you really need?

You can say a lot about kitchen tools. They come in all shapes, forms, colors and quality. Some are super useful, others will find their eternal destiny in that messy drawer. Depending on how you cook, some are helpful, others easily can be replaced by a few quality basic tools that can get most jobs done. Here’s my list of essentials.


Most kitchen tasks start with a knife. To clean or chop down your ingredients. The best knife is  a sharp knife that fits easily in your hand. Keeping it sharp is just something you need to take care of, but a knife that works for you, is highly personal. So no brand recommendations from me. Get yourself, or invite the person you want to gift a good knife, to the store and try out a few. Start with a chef’s knife with a blade of 20cm (8 inch) length, all others are extra.

Knives that you can pick out for someone else are bread knives or other specialty knives for boning, carving or fish filleting, if they are into that.

Did you know that in the Netherlands we think that giving a knife is bad luck? To avert, we always have the receiver pay for it. Usually a dime will do to wear off any bad vibes.

Flexible spatula

Yes, a gift of a few dollars, but I hardly can’t cook without them anymore. The flexibility is so so useful. You won’t scrape your pans. You get it pretty easily underneath your ingredients if you want to flip them over. You can clean out every bit of sauce or batter out of any pan. Just be sure they are not super thick and easy to handle. The ones you see on the picture are the ones I use. Tell the receiver that a chef recommended using them! 😉

Food thermometer

You’ve probably seen it recommended a lot when you like to grill, smoke or barbecue: a food thermometer. I am using one with a long string, so the probe can stay inserted and you don’t have to open your oven/grill every time to check the temperature. Super convenient and affordable ($15-20). It really takes the guessing out of your cooking, whether you are roasting big meats, make stock, want to know the temperature of your bread dough of simply to know if you reheated your food to a save to consume temperature (165 F / 74 C).

Microplane grater

The only brand recommendation in this list. I always thought my own graters were fine, until I used a Microplane. On the picture below you see my Microplanes, but you’ve probably know them better as the long shaped ones, just like the woodworking tools, but with a colorful handle. Well .. that’s because they originally were. Get the fine grater, and if you have something more to spend, the large grater and slicer too. Those 3 I use the most.

~ above are the tools I often use in my classes, below some other suggestions for the holiday season ~

Other ideas

A good quality skillet really helps brown your ingredients. Cast iron for a life long investment or a stainless steel from a brand like All-Clad. A scale. And when I just lived in the USA, I had a towel with all kinds of temperature, weight and volume conversions to help me understand Fahrenheit and using cups.


Food is always good. Especially when you can gift quality ingredients that can be shipped. Beans, grains, meat and fish, freshly ground flour, spice mixes or condiments from cuisines you’re not familiar with. Oh, eh.. They, of course..

Maybe add a specialized cookbook for culinary inspiration?

A simpler gift would be those prep boxes you can find in a lot of stores, which can be a great encouragement for the budding home cook to try out something new.


With multiple cookbooks coming out every week, I can’t keep up. But the past year I came across two cookbooks that are a bit older, but have the same aim as I have in my classes: to really help you become more confident and creative in the kitchen.

For the beginner and avid read get Kathleen Flinn‘s The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. In this book she tells how she collected a few beginning cooks in a kitchen and taught them the basics of cooking. Easy read and lots of tips.

The Nimble Cook by Ronna Welsh is for a bit more experienced home cooks. In this inspiring cookbook she explains how experienced cooks cook: not by cooking from scratch every time you’re in the kitchen, but creating starting points from which you can explore new dishes.

Both ladies teach cooking classes too!

Speaking of which:

Cooking class gift cards

Yes, you can make me dance in my kitchen too! You can get a gift certificate for any amount and they can be used for my Learn to cook without recipes classes or a private class where you can learn whatever you want . Use this link or send me an email. If you want, I can create a pdf with your gift certificate that you can print out. Just let me know! (fine print here)

Happy Holidays!

Join the conversation!