The holidays are upon us, and that means it's time to show your buddies you care by buying them things they probably don't need. But there's no reason to shell out for an expensive ugly Christmas sweater that he'll never wear, or a tchotchke that will sit idly at the back of her closet, when you could give THE gift that everyone loves: food! We've found the best food and food-related items for anyone on your list, from pets and kids to the true gourmand. Many can be purchased in and around Houston, and some are available online and at major retailers. Let's get shopping!
From grill accessories to a top-rated cookbook, check out our Top 5 Gifts for the Griller in your life:
5. Stove-Top Smoker
This indoor and outdoor smoker ($44.86 for a large, $36.95 for a small) is perfect for someone who loves to smoke meat, fish and vegetables. It will work over any heat source, from an electric stove top to a camp fire, so you can smoke foods nearly anywhere.
The smoker comes with four samples of flavored wood chips, but you can always buy a few more online or from outdoor and specialty stores like Home Depot and Sur La Table.
4. Grilling Planks
This six-pack grilling plank sampler ($17.49 on sale) is a win-win. The gifted will love testing out the different flavored planks, and you're likely to get at least one delicious meal out of it. The set includes six medium planks in cedar, alder, hickory, cherry, maple and red oak. Throw in a few cedar wraps ($9.99 for 8) and skewers ($4.99 for 8) to make the gift complete.
3. Personalized Steak Branders
Screw those drunken frat boys! You'll be the coolest (really old) kids at the tailgate with these college-themed meat branders ($34.95). Mark your steaks, then shot-gun a beer and win at life. If you don't mind your gift being a bit late, check out these hand-made monogrammed steak branders for just $24.99 (expect at least three weeks for delivery).
2. Grill Accessories (Cleaner, Oiler, and Salt & Pepper Shaker)
Nobody likes to spend all that time prepping the meat, only to have it taste like old grease or rip apart and get stuck to the grill. If your loved one grills a lot, he or she already has a brush, but it's likely nasty and ready for a replacement. Try this 3-in-1 grill brush ($7.95) with a tough scrubbing pad, durable bristles and a scraper. The recipient will also appreciate this hand-held grill-grate oiler ($8.99 on sale) and long-handle salt and pepper shaker ($29.99), perfect for seasoning during cooking.
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1. The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen + Bonus Accesory
Everybody loves a good cookbook. And this best-selling book and winner of the Julia Child Cookbook Award, redesigned in full color for its 10th anniversary, is one of the best.
With more than 500 top-notch barbecue recipes from around the world -- including everything from seafood and veggies to meats, sauces and marinades -- it really is the gift that keeps on giving. Wrap it along with a grilling accessory, like these bear claw meat shredders ($16.95) or barbecue basting set ($24.95).