Check out these kitchen gift ideas

Listen, children, and you shall hear a tale of the airwaves at this time of year…

It really wasn’t all that long ago when super pitchman Ron Popeil flooded the three networks’ commercial breaks at this time of year with fantastical, yet surprisingly practical, gadgets for the kitchen and home.

But wait, there’s more.
Way more. Today with the advent of cable and the Internet, we’re in a virtual tsunami of appeals to buy this gadget or that, many that likely never entered Mr. Ronco’s wildest inventive fantasies.

And at this time of year, just about every one is dubbed a “must have for the serious gourmet guru.” Uh-huh. Still, some are really cool and do border on “must have.”

Despite this week’s kickoff of cybershopping, the gift quest for the perfect foodie gadget doesn’t depend entirely on the Internet.

Two stores in Ocala & one around for years, another a newcomer opening Friday & burst with oodles of goodies.

“The Food Network has greatly affected what’s happening in the food world,” says Marie Harrington, proprietor with her husband, Gene Belden, of Bakers and Cooks at 128 S.W. Broadway. They’ve been frantically unpacking inventory to open Friday.

Stacey Atsides of Tom Atsides restaurant and kitchen supply at 3102 W. Silver Springs Blvd. agrees. “When you see a chef on the Food Network pull out, say, a blackening pan then you learn it’s something you can do.”

Planning to cash in on a growing demand for gourmet gadgets, Harrington says there are three types of cooks: the young starting out buying to fill a kitchen; older types who don’t cook but who have a fancy kitchen and want it to look like they do; and those “who actually do cook.”

Both Harrington and Atsides agree top-notch knives are the essential in a home kitchen. Just remember, if you give a knife also give a penny so you don’t “cut the relationship.”

Kelley Welsh of Primary Oven suggests a KitchenAide mixer is the single must. “It can do anything,” she adds. “Sauces, cakes, make sausage, ice cream. It’s a lifetime marriage. When I got a new one here, I took my old one home.”

One of the expected top sellers this season is the countertop wine cooler, a scaled down refrigerator unit with room for six to 12 bottles of wine & bringing wine storage within reach of nearly every home. Most of these units are priced under $100.

Some might suggest the perfect kitchen addition is a Pantree, a cookware organizer that fits in base cabinets and holds up to 14 pots, pans and lids.

Yet others might argue the quintessential gadget just might be the Ben & Jerry’s Pint Lock & a locking ring to keep the unauthorized out of your Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia.

After an exhaustive search, we present some of the coolest and craziest kitchen whatnots for this season. Most of them won’t put your eye out; well, they shouldn’t.

Countertop wine cooler. Chills six to 12 bottles of wine. Available online or at Home Depot and Target. Prices range from $75 up.

Corkscrews. Not your father’s spiral piece, these are multi-levered affairs that nearly require advance engineering education to use. JCPenney offers a 14-piece corkscrew gift set in a cherrywood box for $19.99.

Pantree. Undercounter cookware organizer, holding up to 14 pots, pans, lids. Available online at or TV shopping channels for $24.99.

Jura-Capresso Impressa Z-5. Grinds beans, makes espresso, cappuccino, ristretto and other caffeinated brews. At need, it can even make a regular cup of coffee. Available at Bakers and Cooks. It’s a bit costly, though; at $3,199.99 it’s the most expensive item in the new store.

Onion goggles. Like sunglasses, but clear. The secret here is closed-cell foam around the lenses sealing out onion fumes. “I want to see if they’re suitable for nighttime Harley riding,” adds Belden. Available at Bakers and Cooks for $19.99.

Knives. These come in all shapes, sizes and even materials. Bakers and Cooks offers a line of Kyocera ceramic blades that never need sharpening; also Alton Brown ergonomic Japanese blades. Atsides also boasts several lines of restaurant-grade knives. Cost varies per knife.

Stovetop smoker. Camerons Stovetop Smoker system is a sealed pan using stovetop heat to smoke meats just like a charcoal contraption outside. “Emeril Lagasse popularized these,” Atsides says. “We can’t keep them on the shelves.” Under $50 at Atsides and online at and other Web sites.

Crepe pans. Last year, Atsides says, she “couldn’t give these things away. Now I can’t keep them in stock.” Various sizes and costs.

“Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition.” Celebrating the long-popular cookbook by Irma Rombauer. Adds hundreds of new recipes, updates on old favorites and even includes slow cooker suggestions. It’s No. 2 on’s most popular cookbooks. Available online and bookstores at prices ranging $18 to $30.

Anything by Rachel Ray. She is the culinary goddess du jour with five books in’s most popular 25 cookbooks.

Books by Paula Deen or Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten). Together, these two make up much of the remainder of the top 25 book list.

“20,001 Kitchen Secrets” by Dr. Myles Bader. Tips for the kitchen on just about everything; includes a glossary of culinary terms. Available at As Seen on TV in the Paddock Mall for $19.99.

Ice cream protector. Ben & Jerry’s Euphori-Lock is a ring with a combination lock to keep unwanted spoons out of your pint of ice cream. This made Forbes’ list of Coolest Gadgets. However, it fits only Ben & Jerry’s pints. Available online at for $5.50.

Musical cake slicer. This spatula in three handle colors plays four songs: “Happy Birthday,” “Jingle Bells,” “Wedding March” and “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Available online through in England for 4.99 pounds. No U.S. dollar amount listed.

Self-stirring mug. A small propeller in the bottom makes sure all liquids in this mug remain thoroughly mixed until the last drop. Available online through various Web sites at $29.95.

Butter Boy/Girl. Put a stick of butter in this gizmo and buttering corn on the cob is a snap; then goes back in the fridge. Comes in green and pink. Available at Bakers and Cooks for $8.50.

The knork. Combines the best uses of a knife and fork in one implement. Comes in reusable plastic and stainless steel. Available online at and for $1.50 to $4.50.

USB beverage chiller. Plugs into a computer USB port to keep drinks cool for workaholics. For cans, bottles or glasses. Available at for $40.

Holy Toast. Presses image of Virgin Mary into bread for holy effigy when bread is toasted. Set of two. Available at for $10.71 U.S.

Reindeer Jelly Bean Poopers. That’s right, poopers! A real taste treat for the holidays. A softside four-inch reindeer filled with brown jelly beans; push down on its rear end to dispense. Available at for $9.90.

Bon appetit!
Rick Allen can be reached at or 867-4122.