I’m not sure how I’d make it through ~the holiday season~ if I didn’t show up with at least one gift guide dedicated to the reason I started writing in the first place: food! Everybody deserves nice things in their kitchen, but it can absolutely be overwhelming to find said nice things, especially if you’re on a budget. Never fear, for Beka ‘n Eggs is here. Every item on this list is something that I actually own, love, and use fairly regularly (if not daily) and perhaps the best part: it’s all under $50.00. Whether it’s for a friend, family member, or just to treat yo’self, here’s my round-up of all the best kitchen goodies for cooking, baking, and enjoying.
For most of my adult life, I got by with the cheapest functional items I could buy, which is real, but after a while.. I realized things weren’t holding up well and I was replacing my pans every few years. For not much more, I finally upgraded to some gems from Nordicware this year and now I want everyone and their mother to have these. By these, I mean two items in particular (well, one is a set, but the sentiment stands).
For the vast majority of home cooks out there, having a 9×13 pan, 9×13 baking dish, and an 8×8 square pan means you can make just about anything. Truly. I occasionally reach for my Nordicware quarter-sheet pans too, mostly just because I cook a lot (primarily in this thing), but since these pans arrived, I’ve barely touched another.
My vote for gifting a pan, whether that’s for yourself or actually sharing the wealth, is Nordicware’s “Naturals” line for minimal fuss and a straightforward, well-made product. My favorites are the 8×8 square pan and the 9×13 three-piece set that comes with a pan, a baking dish, and a lid.
Listen, you know the drill. I love food, I love books, we’re talking about kitchen gifts, there are obviously going to be cookbooks on the list. Amusingly, all three were new-to-me this year, but are genuinely some of the best cookbooks I’ve ever purchased. I love a simplified approach. I love unfussy recipes that use the same ingredients in different combinations over and over to make beautiful, simple food that you can feed to all your people, but also can just make for yourself on Tuesday because you are craving it.
For the person in your life who actually loves food, it’s got to be Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy. That’s it. That’s the gift. (I’ve gifted a lot of copies this year). The subtitle for the book is “Unfussy Food for Having People Over,” but it’s also really great, unfussy food for cooking during the week regardless of how many mouths there are to feed. If you buy this, do yourself a favor and make The Dip before you gift it.
For the sweet tooth who knows their way around an oven, Yossy Arefi’s Snacking Cakes is definitely the move. If you really want to get buckwild, you can gift it along with the Nordicware 8×8 square pan (mentioned above) which can be used for every single recipe in the book. Bonus: Whoever you gift it to can make dessert when it’s safe to have dinner parties again.
Finally, for your carb-loving friends and family, maybe someone who’s happy with a bit of flour on their nose, the definitive “can’t screw it up” pasta book, Homemade Pasta Made Simple by Manuela Zangara is the favorite. This is what Nick and I worked from when we made pasta for our anniversary over the summary and it was easily the best pasta we’ve ever made at home.
For more ideas, you can check out the Favorite Cookbooks section of my Bookshop storefront here.
Dried spices are probably not that exciting to most of you. I see you, but I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. If your spices aren’t exciting, it’s because you’re buying them in the wrong place, and so are your friends, and definitely your parents. Buy them all nice spices.
My favorites are Curio Spice, a woman-owned certified B corp working out of Massachusettes and the delightful NY Shuk (the Hebrew word for market, pronounced shoo-k like “shoo, go away, I’m eating”) for when you want to get real specific on those Middle Eastern / Israeli spice needs.
Curio Spice’s directly-sourced and sustainably produced wares stock the vast majority of my spice cabinet these days for everything from garlic powder to dill pollen to incredible blends (make sure you peep the signature and the classic offerings), everything so carefully and beautifully made.
I didn’t recommend the Israeli-focused Eating Out Loud in the Cookbooks section because it’s a bit more ~niche~, but if you were to buy that as a gift, and then pair it with some fun things from NY Shuk like their preserved lemon paste and/or ground sumac berries, you’d be like.. the coolest gift giver of all time. (Admittedly this might hit harder for Hanukkah than for Christmas, or for a rad interfaith family like mine.)
As much as I personally love a good kitchen gadg, I accept that it can be a contentious gift item. For our first Chrismukkah together, Nick gifted me a slow cooker (which I still have and love eight years later), but my friends definitely gave some weird looks. Let’s keep these gifts for the actual cooking nerds in your life, or maybe somebody who wants to be a better cook. Don’t give gifts as a way of telling someone that you want them to do more work for you.
One of the cuter additions to my gadg cabinet this year was definitely the ThermoPop. Thermoworks has a very cool array of strangely fun ways to measure how hot your food is (and also your body), but for your everyday kitchen workhorse, I’m a big fan of the pop. It’s small, it’s quick, and there’s no wires, cables, or other complicated bits to clean.
Okay so remember how I said Nick gifted me a crock pot for our first winter holidays together? Well a few months later, he gifted me a 9-cup food processor for our one year anniversary. It still works great, I still use it, we still friends, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes it’s just a pain to maneuver the giant base and all the pieces. When I’m just cooking for two, or making hot sauce, the still-substantial 3.5 cup “mini” chopper from KitchenAid is a fantastic kitchen friend. Please note: whenever possible, I encourage you to shop direct from KitchenAid / whatever company’s website, or a small business that stocks the item you are looking for, rather than Amazon.
The Special Ingredients
Some of you may have a true kitchen nerd in your life (it might actually just be me), and they might have every gadget and cookbook they could want, but still you are determined to enable this love. For those people, who truly have everything, I encourage you to consider some unexpected ingredients for a meaningful gift that doesn’t forever take up space in a drawer (it’s true, even if it’s a thing you love, it does still take up space in a drawer).
All three items mentioned in this section are vegan, naturally gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free and are, in varying degrees, compliant with Paleo/Whole30 and other dietary restrictions (whether by choice or for health reasons).
Kasandrino’s Olive Oil is a big one in this house and we buy it by the jug. Whether you’re beefing out some stockings with their individual packets or splurging for a loved one, this is the olive oil to get. Kasandrinos is a family-owned (partially in Greece and partially in the US), veteran-founded small business pumping out some of the best olive oil you can get your hands on. You can use the code beka25 to get 25% off your first order or beka50 to save money on a recurring subscription.
I am not even sure how I first stumbled upon Otto’s Cassava Flour, but I’ve been using it for several years now and it’s absolutely my first choice whenever cooking something up that I want to be gluten-free. I use it for my pie/galette crusts, my berry crumble, and for the occasional homemade fish sticks too. If Thrive Market is your thing, Otto’s is available there too (if Thrive Market is not your thing, it’s fantastic and if you have a loved one with special dietary needs, a subscription to Thrive would make a wonderful gift).
Finally, a long-time favorite in this household. Honestly the entire lineup of products from The Date Lady are fabulous, but I am especially fond of their date syrup which is packed with vitamins and minerals and makes a fantastic substitute for any other sweeteners in cooking. It’s great in baked goods, but it really shines in savory dishes – I use it in place of honey, maple syrup, or regular sugar whenever possible, like in the marinade for the smoked lamb we made after Yom Kippur and my Tahina-Harissa sauce.
Happy Everything, y’all.
First Night of Hanukkah: Thurs 12/10/20
Christmas Eve: Thurs 12/24/20
First Night of Kwanzaa: Sat 12/26/20
New Year’s Eve: Thurs 12/31/20
Some links are affiliate links from which I earn a small percentage of sales at no additional cost to you. Some links are referral links in which I earn store credit in exchange for sharing a coupon with you. This post is not sponsored.