Welcome to the annual gift suggestions for cooks and gardeners, which is, as you correctly surmise, a thinly disguised wish list for yours truly. But being a cook and gardener, I enjoy making suggestions that others might find helpful.

For example, after the recent marathon of Thanksgiving cooking, I’m wishing more than ever for a multifunctional tool such as the Deiss Dual Julienne & Vegetable Peeler, which allows one to peel, julienne, slice and shred vegetables of all shapes and sizes. I hate dragging out my food processor for anything less demanding than chopping five gallons of veggies for relish, so a single multitasking peeler is handy. You can make julienne strips or chips from carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, citrus rind, etc., and thin curls of cheese to top winter salads. When summer comes, you’ll be able to make zucchini noodles, should you so desire.

Have I mentioned that I’m a Koziol fan? Koziol has been creating award-winning thermoplastic items for the home since 1927 from their factory in Erbach, Germany. I have their Tweetie vegetable brush, shaped like a person, with bristles for hair, and have nursed along their no-longer-produced soap-dispensing bird for years. One of their latest anthropomorphic gadgets is Kasimir, the cheese-grating hedgehog, who will patiently sit on a cutting board on your table, along with a wedge of Parmesan, waiting to be passed around to top pasta or soups. Oh, and while I don’t really need the gondolier spoon rest, he sure is cute, as well as functional.

Is a toaster too prosaic for a gift? Not, I think, when it’s a Dash Clear View Toaster. This little beauty has a glass window in its front so you can see what’s going on inside. If you make your own bread or enjoy heavy ryes or pumpernickels, you already know that puny regular toasters need two pops to properly brown these denser slices. No more guessing with this toaster, and it’s good looking, with the de rigueur extra-wide slots for your homemade slices or bagels. Living with a less-than-perfect toaster means starting every day with a frown, so brighten up someone’s life with a good one.



When it comes time for documenting the state of your garden, whether the height of summer’s lush bloom and bounty or the stark canvas of winter, any gardener would love owning a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Camera. This Polaroid camera utilizes traditional film packs to give you photos in your hands right after you’ve snapped them. From there, they can go right into your gardening planner or journal and you’ve got the perfect reference for any changes you’d like to make. There’s even a macro lens attachment for capturing finer details.

I hesitate to guide anyone to Sneeboer tools, but the Dutch company makes the most beautiful tools available for gardeners. I’ve had their right-handed hand hoe for probably 30 years, and it’s still functional, albeit with a duct-taped handle and a slight curve in the blade from my inexpert sharpening. So perhaps I (whoops, I mean someone you love) should receive a new one and, with it, the beautiful whetstone, with its silicon-carbide stone and beechwood handle designed for comfortable gripping. This stone can go into your tool bucket or basket and sharpen not only your hand hoe, but heavy-duty tools as well, including axes, the edges of shovels, large shears, and more. You have to soak the whetstone for 30 minutes before use. This allows it to absorb water, which combines with particles released from the stone to create an abrasive material for sharpening the blades.

With all the hurricanes, microbursts and other recent weather events that caused power outages, a practical gift giver could provide his or her favorite gardener with a veritable Swiss Army knife of an emergency radio. At only five inches long, the RunningSnail Emergency Hand-Crank, Self Powered AM/FM NOAA Solar Weather Radio with LED flashlight and 1000mAh power bank for charging cell phone or any other USB devices is small enough to stuff into a stocking but big enough to make a difference in an emergency situation, whether at home, in the car or out hiking or sailing. It also will deliver favorite tunes while you’re working in the garden. It’s probably not the darling of the survivalist set, but for around $25 it beats sitting in the dark during a power outage wondering what’s going on in the rest of the world.