Gifting Valuable Kitchen Hand-Me-Downs…

While this may be more targeted towards grandparents or great grandparents, many of you out there might be missing out on the joy of gifting these very valuable hand-me-downs from your own kitchen.

If you have “retired” from regularly cooking in the kitchen, whipping up pies, cakes, biscuits from scratch, and other recipes from days gone by, there is great joy in selecting a few cherished treasures from the pantry or cabinets which can be extraordinarily special if they can be gifted now along with stories that come with them.

Whether it’s a hand-me-down cast iron skillet which might be too heavy to wield these days, or a lovingly worn rolling pin which has a history of secrets, or perhaps a unique kitchen tool which is used on rare occasions, the benefit of gifting those things along with special memories written out for the next generation is a wonderful idea to implement now vs missing that chance and having nobody know about them when the future may just mean they are in an estate sale.

Below is an excerpt from Garden & Gun magazine (HERE) which gives a few good ideas – and perhaps this list will trigger your own thoughts of what you may have in your kitchen which could be a meaningful gift for someone in your family this year for their birthday or other celebration!

10. Small serrated knife

Technically only one newsletter reader, Ellie H., nominated this tool, and for one specific purpose—“to slice fresh homegrown tomatoes!” We agree so wholeheartedly that we awarded it a spot on the list.

9. Deviled egg plate

This isn’t an item you use every day, but if you’ve ever tried schlepping slippery eggs on a non-indented plate, you understand. “Bonus points if it is hobnail or carnival glass,” says reader Leigh B. (Check out these pretty vintage deviled egg platters.)

8. Corn scraper

Rule of thumb: If Nathalie Dupree, the fifteen-time cookbook author and esteemed queen of Southern cooking, says you need a corn scraper (to “get the juice out” when making creamed corn), you need a corn scraper. Tool of thumb: Corn holders are also a good investment.

8. Pastry cutter

It’s not the sexiest tool in the drawer, but a pastry cutter is pretty much the only game in town for slicing cold butter into flour, thereby creating the flaky pastry layers that do quicken the pulse. “I swear by my mother’s hand-me-down for biscuits, pie crusts, and cornbread,” reader Van H. says.

7. Citrus juicer

According to the above-referenced YouGov poll, adults under forty-five are more likely to own a manual citrus juicer than older adults are. Extrapolating from our newsletter feedback, Southerners are also on team lemon squeezer. What’s the common denominator between the two cohorts? We don’t know, but we’re going to fix ourselves a drink.

6. Dutch oven

Every Southerner needs a sturdy pot for cooking chili, chicken bog, jambalaya, and other canonical dishes, and several of our readers—and G&G editor in chief Dave DiBenedetto—count one in their cast-iron collection. But Virginia chef Wade Truong named his Le Creuset pot his favorite piece of cooking equipment: “There’s nothing I can’t cook in there.”

5. Rolling pin 

The YouGov poll singled out the rolling pin as the item most likely to gather dust in America’s kitchen drawers. Really? Considering these poll results arrived smack dab between pie season and cookie season, maybe that dust is actually flour? Or maybe it’s a Southern thing, as our readers tend to share the opinion of Henrietta S., who says, “There is nothing quite as nice as a well-worn, often-used, handed-down generational rolling pin.”

4. Oyster knife

Fall and winter are oyster roast season, and as G&G art director Julia Knetzer pointed out in a list of staff picks for the kitchen, it’s customary to bring your own shucking knife to the party. Even if you don’t live on the coast, it might be wise to acquire one so—as reader Douglas U. notes—“you don’t waste a bucket of fresh bivalves someone gifts you.”

3. Grease jar

Saving and reusing bacon grease is practically Southern gospel, but don’t go out and buy a container for the purpose. An old pickle jar or soup can is a serviceable vessel for what reader John C. calls “bacony goodness.”

2. Biscuit cutter

Technically you can make biscuits without one—using the rim of a glass, for instance—but it’s a whole lot easier with this inexpensive tool, which lends uniformity, rise, and maybe some beautiful memories. Says reader Ann W.: “I have my beloved grandmother’s. My grandfather built me a stool so I could stand next to her at the dry sink and cut the biscuits out.”

1. Cast-iron skillet

Far and away the most common item cited by our newsletter readers and Southern chefs is the cast-iron skillet—ideally one that’s seen its share of seasoning oil. Chef Kardea Brown cherishes one she received as a graduation gift. Chef Adrienne Cheatham found hers on the street in Harlem. (“I took it home, scrubbed it out, and reseasoned it, and it’s been my baby ever since.”) Many readers spoke of skillets older than they were, including Jere B., who testifies, “We were given my maternal grandmother’s twelve-inch cast-iron frying pan. I would guess it’s closing in on ninety years old. We talk about her every time we use it. If only it could talk back.”