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December 12,2012- RainyDayGiftGuide:Kitchen...

We love to cook, and we know that quality kitchen equipment make the process of cooking even more enjoyable. So we kept that thought in mind as we set about picking items for this year's RainyDayKitchen Holiday Gift Guide.

Regardless of whether the chef on your list is just starting out or has years of experience in the kitchen, the items below will help them do things easier, make what they are doing more enjoyable, and let them achieve better results.

It is a luxury to have a full set of Shun knives, but if we had to pick just one, the 7" Santoku would be our choice. It is the perfect size for most tasks. The scalloped cutting edge prevents food from to the blade. The knife is not just beautiful to look at, but effortless to use. Pair it with the Shun kitchen shears and you will have 99% of all cutting tasks covered.

We have no qualms about peeling fruits with a large blade, but the task is much easier with a small paring knife. The problem with paring knives is they tend to dull quickly. Not so if it is the Kyocera 3-inch ceramic paring knife.

Non-stick surfaces sooner or later will get scratched, but Sil-Eco has a solution. Their silicone baking mats will turn any pan in to a non-stick pan. Properly cared for, the mats may be reused thousands of times.

Until recently, we have never used any kind of oil or cream to protect the surface. However, when we received our Newton Prep Master cutting board, it came with a tube of Boos Board Cream. This stuff is great! We are treating all our wooden boards with it going forward.

For flavor, there is nothing like freshly ground pepper. The best tools for grinding pepper are from William Bounds. He designed a mechanism that evenly crushes peppercorns without its components touching. This means the grinder will last a lifetime. The company now offers a handsome battery-operated mill which does not require two hands to operate: just tilt the mill and the grinding starts. How cool is that?

For the BBQ-er on your gift list, we would suggest the Cuisinart Barbecue 10 Piece Grill Tool Set. The tools are made from stainless steel and the handles are handcrafted from Pakkawood. Pakkawood is a very dense, tough, solid wood product, and is waterproof and stable. The resin-infused wood will retain its shine and outlast most natural hardwoods, especially with heavy use.

If your cook is already well-equiped, then it is time to think creatively. Here are three suggestions which may help point you in the right direction:

The Primula Flavor It 3-in-1 Beverage System is a pitcher which will let you brew, infuse, and chill beverages. It comes with a tea infuser, a flavor infuser, a chilling core, and a pitcher. The system lets make flavored drinks using fruits, vegetables, and anything else you care to put into the infuser. Clean up is a snap as everything is dishwasher-safe.

For the active, on-the-go water drinker, the Citrus Zinger offer an easy way to extract juice and flavor from citrus fruits and infuse them directly into a water bottle. And for those who want a bit more fizz in their drink, SodaStream machines are the way to go. They have a wide range of carbonators and flavoring. If you are going to give a SodaStream machine as a gift, we would suggest throwing in a few bottles of syrup.

Juices are great for the body and all that, but there is NOTHING like caffeine to get the neurons firing. Below are a few suggestions to keep them going all day long:

The Capresso EC100 is a compact Espresso & Cappuccino Machine, perfect for any home office and almost small enough to fit in a cubicle. The EC100 features a stainless-steel casing, a stainless steel-lined ThermoBlock heating system with 15 bars of pressure, a 46-ounce water container, two frothing positions for lattes/cappuccinos, a stainless-steel cup warming platform, and drip tray.

Of course, an espresso machine is only as good as the beans used. For a great selection, check out what is available at Cerini Coffee and Gifts. They carry over 25 blends of espresso coffee beans imported from Italy. The two that intrigued us were Caffe Borbone Gold and Danesi Caffe. For those who like to roast their own, we suggest giving them a sampler of green beans from Sweet Maria's.

Now that we have taken care of the kitchen, we will head out to the garage and workshop. The RainyDayGarage and RainyDayRenovation teams are eager to show off their picks for 2012. We know their suggestions will give you plenty of ideas as you get ready to hit the shops this weekend. [Permalink] - RainyDayGiftGuide: Kitchen

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