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Gifting: the single most underrated stress any relationship can endure.  Sure, guys always chat at the office about how they can never seem to get their gals a gift that makes them happy, but was ‘Vacuum,’ or ‘Nine Dollar Bottle of Wine’ really on their Wish List?

And girls harp about their man all the time, too: ‘I just can’t figure out why he didn’t like the great shirts I got him…’  Well, that’s because when you buy him clothes, you’re essentially calling him a slob.

But getting a gift for the cook in your life far exceeds the normal gift-giving demands. That person is inherently anal: everything has to be a certain way, they turn their noses up at people who request their steaks well done, and they mock any and all ideas people get from The Food Network.

You get them anything with the adorable Rachel Ray gracing the cover, and it’ll find its way to the trashcan with the gift receipt still in it.  (Either that, or you’ll show up at their house one day to find them studying it in secret.)

Though in normal social situations that person is convivial and lighthearted, when it comes to cooking and the things that go in their kitchen, they can be downright ornery.

But like the feeling you get from a tough coach’s pat on the back after a good play, praise from this person feels really good, and you actually find yourself seeking it out.

You get a rush when they come over for burgers and tell you how great yours tasted, or when offering them a Scotch, they’re impressed with your selection.

It feels great, and now that the time has come to get them a gift, you want them to remember just how much better your gift idea was than everybody else’s.

Below is a quick list of things that every home chef / cook wants, either because they don’t have it or they need more of it.  So take the little one-hand pepper mill back to that store and get your money back, because no cook worth their weight in salt cares about it.


And not just any wok, but a hand-hammered steel wok.  That chef doesn’t care about the froo-froo non-stick, three-hundred dollar wok; they want a wok that can take a beating – a wok that can sit over a flame so hot the sun sweats, and get slammed around like a plastic hammer in the hands of a four-year-old.

And that’s what this wok is: a one-stop workhorse that can boil, deep fry, braise, saute, and stir-fry.

In fact, the first thing you have to do with this wok is season it, and that means rubbing it with a high-smoke-point oil (peanut or canola) and letting it sit over an open flame until it darkens.  Even before you use it, it looks vintage, and the cool factor there is already through the roof.

But the wok has some friends, and its two best buddies are the paddle and the brush.  The paddle is a long handled – well – hand shovel that is angled to suit the wok.

It easily slides down its sides to push food back into the hot spots, and then lift it away to the warm spots – spots where the ridges from the aforementioned hand-hammering can hold the food in place.

The brush is used to clean the wok; instead of using wire sponge that can take off all that seasoning a good wok has, the brush (which is just strands of bamboo bound together) knocks off whatever is stuck to the wok while keeping the seasoning in place.

And the best part: cheap.  For thirty bucks you can easily get all this equipment, and if you’ve got some money to burn, throw in a bottle of wood oil; the handles on these woks are typically wood, and they need to be cared for.

Gift Idea #2 coming up next.

This was a guest post by Nicholas Joseph of LearnfromMe, a writer over at  You can also catch him here on The Examiner.  If you would like to contribute a guest post, please contact me at contact (AT)