The husband and I entered marriage with three (3!) cappuccino makers and one pepper mill.
Eighteen years later, we still use the pepper mill.
We really wanted that cappuccino maker. Our friends — obviously — wanted us to have it. And Williams-Sonoma must have thought we needed it, too. (Otherwise, surely, its computers would have recorded that our cappuccino wish was fulfilled … and fulfilled … and fulfilled again.)
We also coveted the copper tea kettle. The demitasse cups and saucers. The lovely little liqueur glasses.
As the June wedding season gears up, brides and grooms will craft elaborate wish lists for their lives together. Many of their chosen items will be cherished and oft-used. (I still love the Italian pottery we chose for our everyday dishes. And, yes, that pepper mill.)
But others will languish away. We now own a total of zero (0!) cappuccino makers. The copper kettle has turned into a planter. And the demitasse cups and liqueur glasses gather dust in our sideboard.
To make sure that doesn’t happen to the couples on your summer wedding list, here are 10 ideas for kitchen gifts the bride and groom (and new college grad) will really use.
1. A 4-Quart Saute Pan: The essential kitchen pan. You can use it to boil water, blanch vegetables, sear meat, melt sugar, make stews and stir up sauces. A stainless steel model (as opposed to nonstick) can also go into the oven. This 4-quart size is practical but also bigger than the saute pans included in most cookware sets. I bought my Cuisinart pan on its own at HomeGoods.
2. A Ceramic Crock: Tremendously handy for keeping kitchen gadgets in a single place and within arms’ reach.
3. Assorted Whisks: Extra large for whisking air into dry ingredients; medium for whisking eggs and batters; small for emulsifying oil & vinegar; triangular for getting into the corners of a pan; rubber-coated for nonstick surfaces … it seems there’s a whisk for every kitchen need. Pick up two or three for your wedded couple-to-be.
4. A Rasp: I avoided getting a rasp for the longest time. Could the hype be true? Turns out, it is. This former hardware tool is an incredible time saver in the kitchen. Use it for soft and airy citrus zest; for pulpy garlic and ginger; for an ethereal shower of Parmesan or Pecorino — all produced in mere seconds.
5. A Mini Food Prep: I love my full-size Cuisinart food processor. But when I need to mince multiple cloves of garlic, chop a handful of herbs or whip up a cup of salsa verde or marinade, I hate to drag out the big gun. This mini-food prep is the perfect size for small jobs. It comes with a couple of work bowls, it’s easy to clean, and it has a blade that’s still razor sharp after almost two decades.
6. Stainless Steel Nesting Bowls: These boast two of my most prized kitchen qualities — they’re lightweight, and they’re unbreakable. Use the larger bowls to mix batters, whisk dry ingredients for baking or hold your late-night popcorn. The smaller ones are terrific for mixing vinaigrettes or for acting as a resting place for chopped herbs and garlic.
7. A 7-Inch Sankotu Knife: If I had to go through life with just one kitchen knife, this would be it. The weight is beautifully balanced, and the length allows for easy control, whether you’re chopping, mincing, slicing or julienning. I use the J.A. Henckels brand, but you can find lovely Sankotu knives from a variety of manufacturers.
8. Rubber Spatulas: My preferred stirrers. Heat-resistant rubber spatulas conform to the bottoms of bowls and pans, ensuring you reach every ingredient when mixing batters or stirring sautes. Designate some for savory cooking and some for sweet … that way your couple won’t get overtones of garlic in their chocolate cake.
9. A White Platter: No doubt, your bride and groom have picked out lovely platters to accompany their china pattern. They should get those platters. But everyone needs an interesting, well-made white platter for versatility, simplicity and style. Your couple will use your gift to present appetizers, to hold drinks, to display cookies — even to liven up a room’s decor.
10. A Pepper Mill: Yes, my pepper mill. I love it for so many reasons. It’s lovely to look at; it’s filled with a fresh assortment of delicious peppercorns; it allows me to control how coarsely or finely I want to grind my pepper. And it’s well-made. After all, how many things these days last for 18 years?