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You really don’t have to get me anything for Christmas. Oh, you insist? In that case, skip the socks and underwear and pick something from this short list of holiday gifts I’m hoping to find underneath the tree. Also note: My birthday is December 18, so if you want to get me something to celebrate, this list is also applicable, but remember, no birthday-Christmas combination gifts!

Stanley Adventure Happy Hour Kit


Sure a nip out of the bottle is fine, but a well-crafted cocktail is even better. A couple extra ingredients and a quick stir or shake means the difference between a wince and a satisfied smile. On my next camping trip, I hope to have this cocktail kit in my chuck box. The shaker stores two stainless cups and a citrus reamer, and the lid doubles as jigger for perfectly measured drinks. $35;



My second-favorite cooking-processing tool (after the reciprocating saw) is a blowtorch. I use it for everything from plucking ducks to searing sous-vide elk steaks to emergency plumbing jobs to lighting the trash barrel. The Searzall is a kitchen-specific blowtorch, meaning I won’t have to trek to the garage every time I need to sear a steak. It mounts on a standard propane bottle and features dual mesh screens to create a wide, even flame that filters and burns off nearly all of that gassy smell a standard torch leaves behind. The result, better tasting food and some serious kitchen-cred when you break it out at dinner parties. $75;

Stainless Steel Meat Mixer


After 20 years of pounding away on this keyboard (and mixing meat by hand), my knuckles scream loudly when it comes time to process ground meat and make sausage. So, I’m going to break down and ask for a meat mixer this year. Drop in 20 pounds of ground meat and crank away. The stainless-steel construction is even easier to clean thanks to the removable paddle assembly. $130;

Carnivore Grinder


I’ve tested this grinder on several occasions this fall and am thoroughly impressed. Yes, the gel-pack collar is gimmicky, though it does keep the auger assembly colder longer. What I do like about it is the smart design, with a cooling hood, accessory drawer, sturdy handle, and ring-style plate nut that eliminates the need for a separate spanner. The fan-cooled induction motor is much quieter than my old commercial-grade model, and the steel gears should last forever. Save some cash and ask for the ½- or ¾-hp models, which is all but the most serious hunter-processor should need. $380-$450;



Despite what my girlfriend says, you can never have to many cookbooks (or books in general, for that matter). If you’re buying for me, skip the ones from fancy restaurants and opt for something practical, yet inspiring. Amy Thielen’s New Midwestern Table ($23.79; or Pat LaFrieda’s Meat: Everything You Need to Know ($26.48; Or feed into my Southwest obsession with The Maverick Cookbook ($19.77; focusing on history and dishes from New Mexico.