I’ve written many times about measuring cups, as I don’t think a kitchen can really be without a set. Mine are a very dull, stainless steel set that I’ve had for years, but they do the job.
And my recent trip to the Spring Fair showed sea creatures as a definite trend in motifs for the kitchen. So at first I just thought Sainsburys were really on it with this set of fish shaped measuring cups.
Lovely looking, until you look at the detail. There’s no 1/3 cup, and the big cup is 1 1/2 cups. Now, I’ve always found myself perfectly capable of doing 1 1/2 cups from my existing set with the 1 cup and 1/2 cup measure, but a little more tricky to guess 1/3. And heaven knows baking is not really fond of guesswork.
But of course the 1/3 cup would not make this look quite such a good value set, as losing the largest one would definitely lose some of the impact on shelf. But then this therefore makes the set about retailing need, not usefulness.
I would say, don’t buy this one. If you want something along a similar theme, then try this whale set from John Lewis. Yes, it’s another £5 but at least these four are useful sizes for every recipe you’ll make. Not to mention on trend, if that’s important. But at least trend has not over-ruled function.
Every food lover starts somewhere, not even Heston arrived into this world as an incredible cook. And the fancy to learn to cook, or improve your skills, can strike at any age. So, in case you have someone on the Christmas list this year who has just got the bug, here’s my suggestions of seven great gifts to get them going.
I know there are newer chefs, newer writers, but in my book, you can’t beat Delia particularly for getting all the basics right and then building on them. I still have the forerunner to this, Delia’s Complete Cookery Course, and refer to it to this day. Great gift for both a food lover at the start of their cooking journey and for a more experienced cook just to enjoy revisiting or even improving techniques.
I appreciate this is not the cheapest gift, but in terms of cost per use mine has been the best investment I ever made. I bought it about 25 years ago, use it regularly and it’s still, other than the knob on the top having given way, as good as new. That said, I’ve just bought a version from Sainsburys which seems reasonable, but will have to come back in 25 years time to see if it’s still as good!
I think there is no shame in following recipes, we don’t all instinctively know what’s the right thing or amount. Digital scales are a must to me, particularly if they move onto baking, and I love add and weigh ones. There’s a huge variety of them around, I like these simple ones from Salter.
Measuring cups and spoons
I think these are useful to have, particularly as your repertoire grows, and you may end up with American cookbooks and recipes. I have a long standing, very dull but perfectly functional set of stainless steel ones, along with some measuring spoons, and use them endlessly. There are all kinds of sets, from the functional, to the very pretty, to the most popular ever. Take your pick, you can probably find a set to match their interests. I’ve even found Star Wars ones.
Whatever you’re learning to cook, you’re bound to need mixing bowls. You could go old school Mason cash or imitators, although I find they are too heavy for me now. I really like just decent plastic bowls or some stainless steel ones (good for marinading meat). Small, medium, large, any combination will be useful.
Wooden Spoons and Silicone Spatulas
You can never have too many of either in my view. Be generous and get a few of each, they’re available everywhere at every kind of price point.
Again, a bit like the measuring cups, you can find something for everyone in this very necessary bit of kit (even real cooks can’t pull blisteringly hot pans from the oven bare handed). I’ve written about all kinds before, from plain to pretty and everything in between, including ones attached to your apron. Although I can’t find a Star Wars one. Surely a Darth Vader oven glove would be a winner?
With all of these you could combine to make your own interesting starter kit, making a very personalised gift for a food lover starting out. You don’t even have to buy new, vintage versions of some of these could be very appealing.
They still look lovely, and are a bargain at £10, and are part of the famous Boots mix and match deal. There are some other lovely things in the same range, from a toast rack to a cakestand, so you could probably get to your 3 for 2 deal just within this range.
Go quick though, these have been one of the first items to go in years gone by.
My foodie friend had her birthday earlier in the week (still looking fabulous, even a year older). Always a challenge to come up with something for her, but this year an idea presented itself to me, that was just great.
We had a mass bake in for her sister’s birthday and we were using my favourite gluten-free brownie recipe. Only to discover that she did not own a set of measuring cups. I guess because I do a lot of baking, and have a good selection of US cookbooks, that I’ve had a set for years and rather take them for granted.
So, I was delighted to find this gorgeous set at John Lewis. Both practical and beautiful, they fit in perfectly with her country kitchen, and give her a great set to work with in the future. If any of you missed out on the Rosie’s Pantry ones from Boots last Christmas, then these are a good alternative. Though interestingly called Polly’s Pantry. Hmm.
When I wrote about the gifts I was really proud of from Boots this year, I had no idea that the most popular would be Rosie’s Measuring Cups. So popular that by now they are about as rare as hen’s teeth. Now, if someone has their heart set on them, then I would ring Boots Customer Care and see if they can find a local store that still has some stock. Otherwise, try these as an alternative:
I’ve never had a posh set of measuring cups, but I’ve had the same set of stainless steel ones for about 20 years, and they are still going strong. Function over style maybe, but darn useful!
For the retro look, then the Tala Cook’s Dry Measure Cup might be useful too. I like one of these for if we are renting somewhere, which we often do for our holidays, and can’t guarantee a set of scales.
Also keeping with the retro feel, then these Mason Cash cups would do the trick as well. With quarter, half and full cup, these are very practical and quite lovely. Look great hanging up in a country style kitchen.
The only issue I have with my cups is I’m always losing one. So these magnetic measuring cups would be incredibly useful. As long as everyone is trained to put them back together in one set in the drawer!
Maybe these will be a good substitute, maybe not. Just goes to show that even on the high street, you have to sometimes buy stuff when you see it, as there’s no guarantee it’ll still be there when you need it. I never even got close to this year’s Heston pudding! I mean, anyone would think that Christmas is coming.