Twelve Gifts for the Kitchen  
 
Kitchen gadgets make great gifts. So, this year when your brother calls and asks that age old question "What do you want for your birthday?" why not pick something for the kitchen? Or maybe you're looking to pick out a house warming present for a friend?

Cooking aids are always a great place to start. Here's a list of nifty kitchen items that can assist your culinary adventures. Many of these gifts will last a lifetime, and all can easily be found in local kitchenware stores such as Williams-Sonoma or through popular online retailers like Chef's Catalog.

1. HEAVY DUTY OVEN MITTS, $15

Never burn your arms again. Elbow-length, heavy-duty oven mitts provide greater protection and are made to withstand higher temperatures.

2. INSTANT READ THERMOMETER, $15

Instant reads are small, give you a precise measurement and facilitate taking readings in several places.

3. DURAFLEX NESTING BOWLS, (made in France) $20

A set of nine tempered glass bowls ranging from 2" to 9" that neatly stack together. They're a great way to help you organize and measure your ingredients ahead of time.

4. WINE RACK, $20 and up

There's a size and a style for everyone. If you're just starting, get a small rack that will fit in a cool corner. If you've got the space, consider an expandable system that you can add to over the years.

5. BREAD CUTTING BOARD, $25

The cutting surface has slots, letting the crumbs collect in an underneath tray. No more crumbs all over the table when you own one of these.

6. COOKBOOK HOLDER, $25

Ever wonder how to keep a book open to the correct page while you're cooking? Just slip the book into the rack and voila! Ask for a metal one. It's sturdier than a plastic one and easier to clean.

7. OIL CAN, $30

A handy way to keep one cup, or so, of oil near the stove. Adding oil will be a quick flick of the wrist instead of struggling with that large can.

8. WEST BEND 3 WAY TIMER, $30

Three timers in one device, all with different sounds. Keep track of all your dishes as you cook.

9. CALPHALON NON-STICK GRILL PAN, $60

Now you can grill indoors. The ridges in the pan will make great looking cross-hatch marks and let the fat collect away from the meat.

10. CUISINART HAND BLENDER, $60

This cordless, rechargeable hand blender has revolutionized today's kitchen. Just bring the blender to the stove and immerse it. You can puree, chop and whip right in your pan. Once, while watching Sara Moulton's Cooking Live TV show, I heard Alain Sailhac, Dean of the French Culinary Institute, rave about this gizmo. Needless to say, it's easy to use and works like a charm.

11. ATLAS PEPPER MILL (made in Greece), $60-70

The ultimate in pepper mills and guaranteed for a lifetime. A fully adjustable grind - coarse to fine - is produced by a steel mechanism. Available in chrome, copper or brass. Use it once and you'll never be satisfied with another mill.

12. LE CREUSET 4½ QT. DUTCH OVEN (made in France), $135

Available in a variety of colors, this enameled cast iron pot will be a shining star in your kitchen - from the oven to the table, from the fridge to the range, from soups to stews - with a superbly fitting lid, there's little this pot can not do.
And, for a Baker's Dozen.....

STACKABLE COOLING RACKS, $20

Treat yourself to a set of three stackable cooling racks. They can be used separately, or together, and collapse for easy storage.

Note: Prices are approximate and listed in US dollars.