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Be it friend or relative, we have all suffered at the hands of a not-so-talented chef. Terrible cooks are not bad people. In fact, some

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5 Great Gifts for Terrible Cooks

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Be it friend or relative, we have all suffered at the hands of a not-so-talented chef. Terrible cooks are not bad people. In fact, some of the folks you most enjoy hanging out with can be your worst enemy in the kitchen. Given that cooking is an art that requires time to cultivate and we live in a world where no one seems to have it, they can hardly be blamed. However, dinner parties where the odds are 80/20 in favor of spending two days camped out by the toilet can make you less forgiving. If you're going to be gifting to that terrible cook on your list anyway, it might as well be something that flips the odds in your favor.

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1. Subscription to Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country.

Other cookbooks / magazines will provide you recipes, but Cook's have been tested and retested to the point of perfection and break the process of cooking down to a simple, nearly foolproof science. Cook's is super classy, well-written, contains great empirical reviews, and is stuffed with enough food porn to leave you in anticipation for the next issue. The beauty of this gift is that it screams quality and whomever you give it to will think you already assume them a genuine foodie.

2. A quality meat thermometer and a kitchen timer . Still reeling from the grossly underdone or brutally dry Thanksgiving bird? This combo nonchalantly takes the guess work out of a bad cook's most common, yet easily solvable problem. Spring for the fancy versions of these standard kitchen items and they will send the message "Here are some nifty gadgets worthy of your kitchen wizardry" where as the cheapies send a red flag that you've been food poisoned one too many times. These are also requisite gifts for our friends the "stoner chefs" whose enthusiasm for food is only matched by their endless distraction and inability to remember which step they are at in the cooking process.

3. A Dutch Oven. Aluminum pots and roasters have had to account for some of the worst meals ever created, as they are a virtual one way ticket to Dryville. A Dutch oven is a heavy duty work horse for a myriad of culinary tasks that your bad cook can abuse for a lifetime. Used in the oven or on the stove top, it seals tightly and is virtually indestructible.

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4. The Clever Coffee Dripper. "Can barely boil water" is the archetypal shorthand for a bad cook for a reason. Who hasn't been handed a cup of light-brown swill sprinkled with grinds by a well-intentioned friend, or served a cup of liquid lead from a coffee pot that hasn't been cleaned since the Clinton administration? The Clever Dripper combines the brew time of a French press and the grit-free smoothness of a Melitta, making it an easily acquirable godsend for under $20.

5. A Set of Silicon Spatulas. You can leave 'em on the burner or in the pan, and these sweet utensils won't melt, burn you, or take the coating off your cookware. Every time I use my own I recall the efforts of a very sweet boy who served me homemade spaghetti and meat sauce seasoned with Teflon flakes. I remember him being cute enough to attempt consumption, but for some reason his name escapes me.

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