20 Christmas Gifts Under $20 For The Foodie In Your Life

20 Christmas Gifts Under $20 For The Foodie In Your Life

It can be hard to figure out what Christmas gifts to get that foodie on your Christmas list. They’ve probably already got at least one drawer full of little gadgets and tools that they never use (cherry pitter anyone?). But, luckily for you, I’ve taken the time to put a list together of 20 Christmas Gifts Under $20 For The Foodie In Your Life. You’re probably thinking, “yeah, but won’t these just end up in the junk drawer?” Come on, you know me better than that. All the items on this list are useful. I know because I have versions of all of these, and I use them, or I don’t have them but really want them. Some will get more use than others, sure. But none will sit in that dreaded drawer collecting dust, never to be seen again. Alright, without further ado, let’s get to it.


This is not a sponsored post. I have chosen every item on this list because I believe that it is a useful item. However, each item does have an amazon.ca affiliate link attached to it. Meaning, if you click on any of the pictures, you will be taken to their amazon.ca page to buy them. If you buy one of the items on this list after clicking on it on this page, amazon pays me a small affiliate fee. But, you can also find most of these items in your local kitchen supply store, and I recommend buying them there if you can becasue that local store is probably struggling pretty hard right now.

1. Swissmar Peeler

The first item on this list is a Swissmar Vegetable Peeler. These will cost you anywhere from $8 to $18, depending on where you buy them. You may think that $18 is an awful lot to spend on a little piece of plastic with a metal blade. I mean, those fancy old school metal peelers with rubber grips don’t even cost that much. But, this peeler is different for a lot of reasons. First of all, you can take the blade off to clean it, which is a big deal. Second of all, it makes peeling vegetables very quick compared to other peelers. And finally, it will last a lifetime. Every professional Chef I know has at least one of these peelers. I have two, one for work and one for home. The peeler I use at home is my old work peeler. I’ve had it for at least eight years, probably longer, and it has never let me down. If these peelers can last essentially forever in a professional kitchen, they will last forever for the foodie you’re buying them for.

2. Microplane

A good Microplane is a precious tool in any kitchen. They are used for finely grating hard cheese, grating spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and zesting citrus. A Microplane will cost you anywhere from $12 to $40. But, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a quality one. The important thing to look for is a sturdy handle and firm teeth that won’t bend. Any foodie will be happy to open one up one of these on Christmas morning. And, you may end up with a little cinnamon or nutmeg grated over your coffee.

3. Probe Thermometer

When it comes to Foodie Christmas Gifts, a probe thermometer is almost always at the top of the wish list. These range in price from $10 to over $100. But, a $20 thermometer will last a couple of years and will give an accurate reading. These are great for foodies that cook a lot of meat, especially roasts and barbecues.

4. Paring Knife

There is almost nothing more useful to a cook than a good paring knife. They have a million uses, from cutting small items to peeling vegetables, you name it. The Victorinox paring knife listed below costs $10 and will stay sharp for a long time. What’s more, the thin ergonomic handle is easy and comfortable to hold no matter the size of the person’s hand.

5. Silicone Baking Mats

If your foodie likes to bake, silicone baking mats are a must. They are completely reusable and save money becasue they remove the need for parchment paper when baking. These cost about $20 even and are worth every single penny. Any baker will be thrilled to see these under the tree.

6. Apple Corer

This may seem like an odd item for me to include on this list. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not a fan of single-purpose items, and what could be more single-purpose than an apple corer? But I have one, and I love it. I use it all the time for coring apples and pears for tarts and galettes. They also work well for cutting little cylinders out of a pound of butter, if you’re into that kind of thing. We used to do that for our bread service at a restaurant I worked at years ago. An apple corer will cost about $11 and may even take that foodie by surprise, but they will use it more than they think they will.

7. Bench Scraper

A good bench scraper can be used to clean bits of stuck flour off a countertop, for cutting dough, for picking up ingredients off a cutting board, and for many other purposes. They run about $13 and are a work horse for anyone who knows how to use them. If your foodie friend is a foodie indeed, a good bench scraper may be just what they need. (see what I did there?)

8. Meat Mallet

Not only is a meat mallet useful for tenderizing tough cuts of meat and for making scallopini and schnitzel, but it will also lead to countless meat beating jokes, which are just delightful. A decent meat mallet will cost about $16 and will likely last a lifetime. If your foodie likes flattened meat and dirty jokes, this is the Christmas gift for them.

9. Kitchen Towel Push Hooks

Full disclosure, these Kitchen Towel Push Hooks are the only item on this list that I don’t have. But they look really cool and handy. What I’m saying is that I want them. If my wife is reading this (just joking. I know she isn’t), I would like these for Christmas, please. These will run you about $10 on amazon.ca.

10. Digital Kitchen Scale

A digital scale can be used for weighing ingredients (especially when baking) and for portion control. I don’t use my kitchen scale every day, but I’m glad it’s there when I need it. The price range on kitchen scales varies greatly, but the one pictured below will cost you about $20 on the dot.

11. Kitchen Shears

No kitchen is complete without a good set of kitchen shears, which are just heavy-duty scissors. They can be used for cutting chives, cooked chicken or even pizza (which is the actual Italian way). Really, they are scissors. They have a million uses. Kitchen Shears will cost you anywhere from $20 to $60, but there is no need to go top of the line with them. A $20 set will do the same jobs as a $60 set.

12. Ove Glove

I remember seeing the commercials for these years ago and thinking how stupid the “chef” in them looked. “I would never use that,” I told myself every time I saw them. But then, about ten years ago, or more now, my mom got me one for Christmas. It turns out I love it. The Ove Glove works really well and is by far the best oven mitt I’ve ever owned. I still have the one my mom got me all those years ago, though I am probably due for a new one. The Ove Glove will cost you about $18, but it will last a long time and save you from many potential burns.

13. Cork Trivets

Trivets are what you put hot pots and pans on to protect your countertop and table. They are not a fancy gift by any means, but they are incredibly useful. You can buy all kinds of different trivets, from cork to castiron, but I find for the money and usefulness, cork trivets are the way to go. You can get these at Ikea really cheap. Even the dollar store usually has them. The ones pictured below from amazon are actually pretty expensive at $19. Get them somewhere else if you can.

14. Fine Mesh Sieve

If the foodie on your Christmas list likes making sauces, stocks, or puréed soups, then a sturdy fine-mesh sieve is just the thing to get them. I use mine at least a couple of times a week and highly recommend having one on hand for straining sauces or passing soups. A decent Fine Mesh Sieve will cost about $20 bucks but is worth the price.

15. Gnocchi Board

A Gnocchi Board is probably the most specialized item on this list. And it’s not for everyone. But, if your foodie loves Italian food or making pasta, this may be the thing they’ve always wanted. It’s really just a block of wood with grooves cut into it. When you make gnocchi, you roll them on the board to create grooves that will hold on to the sauce. A Gnocchi Board costs about $16 and, again, isn’t for everyone. But for the right person, the Italian food lover, the foodie that loves to make pasta, this will be their favourite gift of the year.

16. Fish Spatula

A Fish Spatula is a thin, flexible metal spatula used mostly for delicate things like flipping fish. However, there are a million uses for a thin, flexible spatula. Whether or not your foodie likes cooking fish, this is the right gift for them. The Fish Spatula pictured below is the exact one that I have, and I absolutely love it. It costs about $19.

17. Candy/Deep-Frying Thermometer

A candy thermometer (which doubles as a deep-frying thermometer) is a great Christmas Gift for anyone who likes to make candy, caramel, or likes to deep fry but doesn’t have a deep fryer. Like the gnocchi board, this isn’t a gift for everyone but for the right person, it is perfect. The one pictured below is the one I have, and it works great. It costs about $17.

18. Sushi Rolling Kit

Every foodie dreams of making sushi. But, to make sushi, you need the right tools. The right tools are a sushi mat and a rice paddle. That’s it. The one pictured below comes with a set of chopsticks as well. This kit costs $18, though you can find cheaper sushi mats in most places. If your foodie loves sushi, get them this, because whether they’ve said so or not, they’ve been dying to try their hand at making sushi at home.

19. French Dowel Rolling Pin

French Dowel Rolling Pins are all the rage right now. Personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about, but I know for a fact that if your foodie likes to bake, they’ve had their eye on this for the last year or so. I’m positive that there are a few local artisans in your area making these, and you should buy one from them though it will likely set you back more than $20. On Amazon, they are $18.

20. Ring Molds

These ring molds are $18, which kind of pisses me off becasue I spent $60 on mine. They are used for many things, from cutting out biscuits and cookies to forming perfectly even fish and crab cakes, to stacking food in that old school way. Whatever skill level your foodie is at, they will find many uses for ring molds.


There you have it—my list of 20 Christmas Gifts under $20 for that foodie on your Christmas list. I hope you found this useful, and if you did, share it becasue you may help a friend struggling to know what to get their foodie for Christmas. And, if you have a foodie gift idea under $20 that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below or on social media. Thank you, have a great day and a great weekend.

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The Truth About Wooden Cutting Boards

The Truth About Wooden Cutting Boards

For years we have been told that plastic cutting boards are more sanitary and safer than wooden ones. In professional kitchens, pretty much all wooden boards have been replaced by plastic and have been for years. But why? Is there any truth behind this or is it all just perception? Are plastic cutting boards really safer than wooden ones?

Let’s get into it.

Wooden cutting boards vs. Plastic Cutting Boards

Anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I only use wooden cutting boards. Specifically, AshWurks Cutting Boards. I use them for cutting vegetables, preparing fish, even for meat and poultry. People often question me on this. The assumption being that it is unsafe to use wooden boards, especially for meat, poultry, and fish. But is it true?

Plastic Cutting Boards

As I said in the introduction to this post, plastic cutting boards have pretty much completely replaced wooden ones in restaurants. But why?

Well, a few decades ago health departments all over the place decided that because plastic isn’t porus it must be a safer material for cutting boards than wood. Now, in all honesty, this may be true if we are talking about brand new cutting boards. But the problem is that a plastic cutting board doesn’t stay brand new for long.


Plastic is softer than wood and easier to cut into. This means that pretty much every time you use your knife you are leaving little divets in the plastic. These divets are next to impossible to clean and are havens for bacteria. Not to mention where are those little pieces of plastic going?

One of the touted benefits of plastic cutting boards is that they can be put in the dishwasher. Yes, it is true that wooden cutting boards should not be put in the dishwasher, or even submerged in water. But, is that really a problem? Dishwashers tend to leave people with a false sense of security. The assumption is that when something comes out of the dishwasher it is clean. I think we all know that isn’t always the case. And I can say that I have seen countless plastic cutting boards come out of commercial dishwashers with bits of chicken and fish still stuck on them. If a commercial dishwasher can’t do the job properly do you really think the one in your kitchen can?


One of the main selling points of plastic cutting boards is that they are not porous. Bacteria can’t penetrate the surface of the board. And yes, like I said, it is true as long as the surface is completely smooth. But this non-porous surface creates another issue, mold.

When it comes to plastic cutting boards it is vitally important that they be very dry when being put away. Surface moisture has nowhere to go and will cause mold growth. Drying the surface of a plastic cutting board doesn’t seem like that big of an issue until we go back and think of those little divets in plastic again. They collect moisture as well as bacteria and that leads to mold growth.


Now, you may be saying, but Ben, I can just bleach a plastic cutting board to prevent mold growth. Yes, you can bleach plastic cutting boards but how often do you really want to do that? And, will that bleach be able to penetrate those tiny divets and kill off the bacteria that live there?

Pros and Cons of Plastic Cutting Boards.

Let’s start with the pros.


  • Non-porous
  • safe when brand new
  • can be bleached
  • can go in the dishwasher
  • light
  • easy to store
  • cheap


  • non-porous so moisture can collect causing mold growth
  • soft material easily cut into creating ideal conditions for bacterial growth
  • little bits of plastic end up in the food
  • don’t really come that clean in the dishwasher

Wooden Cutting Boards

The biggest arguments against wooden cutting boards are the biggest arguments for plastic ones. Wood is porous, it can’t go in the dishwasher, etc. But, do these arguments hold water?

The Thing About Wooden Cutting Boards

Wood is porous.

The biggest argument against wood is that it is porous meaning it will absorb moisture. Well this is true, is it actually a problem? The answer unsurprisingly is no. Here’s why, wooden cutting boards, mostly end grain boards are often oiled with mineral oil which is absorbed into the pores of the wood effectively preventing them from absorbing too much moisture. Even if the board isn’t oiled its porous nature isn’t a problem because even though this allows the wood to absorb moisture it also allows it to dry properly.

What about bacteria?

What about bacteria on wood? Multiple studies, including this one, have shown that wood actually displays antimicrobial properties. What that means is that wood actually kills microbes and bacteria or at the very least prevents them from multiplying. Plastic doesn’t do this.

You can’t put wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher.

It is true that wooden cutting boards shouldn’t be put in the dishwasher. The heat will melt the glue that holds the board together and can even warp the wood. But does it really matter if a wooden cutting board can go in the dishwasher or not? No. It doesn’t. If you were to take two cutting boards, one plastic, one wooden, and rub them with e coli then wash the plastic in the dishwasher and the wooden one by hand with soap and hot water, the plastic one would have more e coli on it after cleaning than the wooden one. So, does it really matter that the wooden board can’t go in the dishwasher? I don’t think so.

What about mold?

Mold isn’t really an issue with wooden cutting boards because they are porous. Moisture will be absorbed into the wood where mold can’t grow. And wood drys much more efficiently than plastic. Think of it this way, a wooden cutting board is essentially a living thing. It breathes, it changes with the weather, it’s alive. A plastic cutting board is dead. There is no life in it. It doesn’t breath or change. So, ask yourself this, is mold more likely to grow on a living thing or a dead thing?

The downside to wooden boards.

There are a few other arguments I have heard against wooden cutting boards that I think it is important to mention here.

Wooden cutting boards are big, heavy, and difficult to store.

This is all true. But here’s the thing, a good quality wooden cutting board can be left on the counter all the time and will become a showpiece of your kitchen. There is no need to move it around or store it.

Wooden cutting boards are difficult to clean.

Fales. All you need is some hot soapy water and a dishcloth. Just don’t submerge the board in the water.

Wooden cutting boards are difficult to maintain.

There is a bit of effort involved, sure. But oiling the board with mineral oil once every few weeks will prolong its life and make it even more beautiful than it already is and it takes like two minutes.

Wooden cutting boards are expensive.

Define expensive. Yes, a couple of hundred dollars may seem like a lot to spend on a cutting board but think of it as an investment. If you treat that board well you will have it for the rest of your life. Imagining that you’re 30 and you’re going to live for another 30-40 years, that couple of hundred dollars works out to be a few dollars a year. You should be replacing plastic cutting boards every year which is $15 – $20 a year. Plus with wood, you have something that can turn into a family heirloom.


I think my stance is pretty obvious, I much prefer wooden cutting boards to plastic ones for every use. But, don’t take my word for it, do a bit more research and see for yourself.

If you are ready to invest in a beautiful wooden cutting board check out my friends over at Ashwurks.ca They sponsor my facebook cooking show but more than that they make beautiful handmade wooden boards right here in Nova Scotia. They are the only boards I use and one look at them will tell you why.

I hope that you enjoyed this post if you did please share it and remember to subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post.

Thanks for reading!

Oh, I almost forgot, I wasn’t able to post on Monday because we didn’t have the internet due to Hurrican Dorian. Other than losing some food out of the fridge and power and internet being down for a few days we made out pretty well. There are still lots of people in the province that don’t have power so we got off pretty lucky. But, things are back to normal for me and hopefully, they will soon be for everyone else.

Today on the blog we are separating fact from fiction and getting to the truth of whether plastic or wooden cutting boards are better.

Choosing The Right Knife For You

Choosing The Right Knife For You

Knives are undoubtedly one of the, if not the most important tool in any kitchen. They get used more than just about anything else and so a decent knife is important. But do some people put too much emphasis on them? I absolutely think so. This has become obvious to me based on how much I get asked about knives. So, let’s cut through all the noise and all the bullshit and look at what you actually need in a knife. It may surprise you.

First of all, I would say that there is a bit of a knife craze going on based on the popularization of Chef Culture. Shows like “Chef’s Table” and “Mind of a Chef” have brought a new generation of Chef’s to the conscious mind of society. With them has come a focus on the tools and techniques they use which isn’t inherently bad. But what’s important to remember is that these are professional Chefs at the top of their game. For them, their knives are about more than just cutting. They are a symbol of their dedication to their craft. It’s something that most home cooks don’t need to prove.

It is definitely easy to get caught up in the knife craze.  There is so much information about knives and so many different kinds of knives out there now. A lot of them are beautiful, more pieces of art than tools. There Japanese knives which a lot of people swear by. There are German knives and French Knives. Then there are small suppliers that make limited quantities of boutique knives. There stainless steel and high carbon steel, or blends of the two. There are even knives made of goddamn astroids. You don’t need any of it.

Here is what is needed in a knife.

A good solid handle that feels comfortable in your hand. Preferably, a blade with a full tang. This means that one continuous piece of metal runs from the tip of the knife to the butt of the knife. The handle, probably wooden, is then riveted to the blade itself. This makes the knife really strong. There should be a bit of weight to the knife, the blade should be strong.

Things you don’t need in a knife.

Sand in the handle. Metal from a goddamn asteroid even though it looks amazing. You don’t need a handcrafted knife made by a Japanese master whose family lived and died by the sword for a thousand generations. There is no need for a knife that has a blade as thin as paper but with the strength of an elephant. And you absolutely don’t need a knife that costs more than your monthly car payment.

Things To Look Out For When Buying Knives.

When buying knives avoid the three pack that contains a chef knife, a utility knife, and a paring knife, that costs $50 at your local hardware store. Those are not good knives. They won’t stay sharp. They will probably rust, and they may break. Also, I generally recommend not buying knives off of the internet. You want to hold a knife before you buy it. Get a feel for it. Make sure it’s comfortable.

It’s often true as well that you don’t want want to buy a knife block full of knives unless you are spending a lot of money. It’s much better to buy the knives individually over time and create your own collection of knives you like.

Just because a knife is made by a company you recognize, doesn’t mean it’s a good knife. The big knife brands make some good quality knives, but they also make some pretty shitty ones as well. If you are spending $20 on a brand name knife, know that you are not getting the top of the line.

How much should you spend on a knife?

This really comes down to the individual. But what I would say is that for most home cooks, spending over $150 on a knife is excessive. Spending $200 on a knife is kind of crazy. If you spend more than $200 on a knife you probably really love cooking but still, it seems a bit ridiculous to me.

I would say that if you want a decent knife that will last you a long time, spend between $60 – $150. But again, make sure it is well built, and make sure it’s comfortable in your hand.

How many knives should you have?

I honestly believe that you really only need two knives, maybe three. You need a Chef Knife which will get you through just about everything. You need a paring knife for any small detailed stuff you want to do. And you may need a serrated knife for slicing bread or something like that. You really don’t need more than that.

Keeping Your Knives Sharp.

It used to be that if you wanted to keep your knives sharp you had to learn how to use a sharpening stone. You had to learn the proper angles and make sure you maintained them. Today, there are all kinds of little gadgets out there that are cheap and take no skill to use. They will keep your knives sharp and ready to use. You have likely seen the little gadgets I’m talking about. Little plastic things with a few different grades of wheels. They work well, not perfectly but well enough for home use. Look for a knife sharpener that has either diamond or ceramic wheels.


A good, comfortable, sharp knife makes cooking easier, safer, and fun. Try not to get caught up in all the hype of what looks cool and what professionals use. Get a knife that you want to use, not an art piece. Don’t spend loads of money, but don’t cheap out either. When buying a knife keep practicality in mind. It is a tool. You wouldn’t buy a $600 hammer because the person who made it has family that has been making hammers for 400 years. Don’t do that with knives either.


Which one should I buy? Kitchen Gadget Guide

Which one should I buy? Kitchen Gadget Guide

Cooking is an activity surrounded by a lot of people trying to sell you shit you don’t need. Even at the bottom of this blog post, there are Amazon links that pay me money if you click on them and buy something. It’s crazy! Every year companies come out with new things that are somehow better than their old thing. It might be identical except the colour is different and the price went up. It is a trap that is easy to fall in to. So, what are some things that you don’t need? Let’s take a look.

The one that I probably get asked about the most is salt. I know this seems like an odd thing but I get asked about it all the time. You don’t need fancy salt. I always recommend kosher salt or sea salt. Stay away from iodized table salt because it has a harsh flavour. It also dissolves more slowly and unevenly in food leading to over seasoning. Other than that it’s pretty much all marketing.

If you search Amazon for salt there are over 70 000 results. 70 000! There is black salt, sea salt from every modern and prehistoric ocean on the planet, smoked salts, flavored salts, etc. Then you have all of those in coarse, medium and fine flakes. You have cooking salts and finishing salts. I could pretty much go on forever. Here is what you need…salt. Just buy salt. There is very little noticeable difference between any of these in terms of flavours excluding infused salts. It’s all really just marketing and people trying to sell you shit you don’t need.


The other thing I get asked most about is knives. I’ve met home cooks who have a different knife for every task and they don’t even know why. Here is the exact number of knives an average person needs, one maybe two.

One good chef’s knife and one good paring knife is all you will ever need. To be clear, when I say good I do not mean expensive. You don’t need to buy a $500 Japanese chef knife to cook at home. You just need something that is solid, has a bit of weight, and that will hold an edge. That’s all. You can get that for $40 at any kitchen supply store. It may not be pretty, but it will do the job and last a lifetime.

What you should invest in is a good sharpening tool. I recommend something like this. It really takes the guesswork out of sharpening. You don’t really need to worry about angles or anything like that and you can have a sharp knife in seconds. As I’m sure you’ve heard, a sharp knife is a safe knife.

There are a million other things that we could cover here. Things like single-purpose tools. Other than a knife sharpener there shouldn’t really be anything in your kitchen that has only one use. You don’t need a tool to pull the hull off of a strawberry.

I would venture to guess that you also don’t need this weird pineapple thing.



There are so many things that we can spend money on, and so many things that we do spend money on that are useless. But for some reason, we generally don’t want to spend money on food. We want sales, discounts, the best deals. My argument is this, buy the essential tools that you need and nothing else. Spend money on good, high-quality ingredients. That’s all.

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