Best “Off The Registry” Wedding Present for the Serious Foodie

By Patti Cook, BA, MS, Ed.D., Culinary Grad and B & P Student

Weddings seem to be everywhere this summer in Vermont. Lately, people who know I’m in culinary school have been asking me if I have any ideas for “off the grid” presents or, in wedding terms, —“off the registry,” for people who like food and cooking.  Seems buying the blue towels that the couple dutifully put on their list is just a bit boring.

I know the perfect gift that is guaranteed to knock their socks off—and they don’t even know they want it and are going to love it for a lifetime. I suggest, OK often insist with wild passion and true love and fondness, a cast-iron wok. Lodge’s cast-iron wok is so striking, with its deep black sheen, that it can take your breath away; not only is it beautiful and stunning, it also makes delicious stir-fry. And if you’re like most people, even serious culinarians, it’s not likely you’d have come across one before.

A cast-iron wok conducts heat well; it can be used on the stove, grill or open fire (but not in the microwave); and, with seasoning, the surface becomes what some call “easy release” or nonstick. It also supports current culinary trends to buy local: Lodge has been making cast-iron cookware for over 100 years and is the only domestic cast-iron cookware manufacturer in the U.S. Its wok is truly one of a kind. Moreover, the company’s commitment to high quality guarantees a lifetime of delicious food and culinary possibilities. Appropriately, like a good marriage, cast iron takes a little attention and love to help it last a lifetime, but the results are well worth it. Once you start cooking in the Lodge wok, it easily becomes a go-to piece of cookware.

From my kitchen seat, giving a unique gift that celebrates love and that lasts is a wonderful thing. I feel like I’m giving cooking love when I give a couple this wok. I know they’ll make many mouthwatering dishes in that pan and possibly pass it and memories of meals made in it on to future generations. It’s also cool to be one of the only people on the street to have a cast-iron wok. How hip is that?

If you have a favorite stir-fry recipe, you can include that as part of the present too. I include my recipe for easy shrimp and vegetable stir-fry that always brings rave reviews.

Easy Shrimp & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Serves 2 on the Path of Happily Ever After

2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil, divided
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups sliced vegetables
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ cup dry sherry (vegetable or chicken stock can be substituted)
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1-2 tablespoons hot chili sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok over high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until pink and just starting to curl. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the wok over high heat. Add vegetables, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
  3. Meanwhile whisk sherry or stock, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, hot chili sauce, cornstarch and pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Add the shrimp and the sauce mixture to the vegetable mixture in the wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and the shrimp are cooked through.
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