You couldn’t find cheese cloth or parchment paper on Capitol Hill before Hill's Kitchen owner Leah Daniels set up shop near the Eastern Market metro. Thankfully, her store caters to the neighborhood and supplies the basics in cooking, baking, grilling, and entertaining, as well as classes for those of us who aren’t exactly sure how to use the wok we just bought. Daniels is also a go-to source for advice on wedding gifts — not only does she know the ins and outs of stainless-steel pans, but she’s also been helping couples set up wedding registries for years.
What should we consider before buying an off-registry gift?
“When someone comes in to buy a gift that’s not on a registry, my first step is to look up where the couple is registered to make sure the gift isn’t a duplicate. I also like to check the registries to learn about the couple and what they like — it’s a great guide for what to buy them elsewhere! Do they have a pizza stone on the registry? Buy them a pizza peel, a pizza cutter, high-heat oven mitts, and a pizza cookbook. Did the bride register for saucepans? Get her a classic cookbook on sauce-making, and a whisk. [And] always include a gift receipt and a note that explains your thought behind the gift!”
What if there isn't a registry, or I can’t remember where they're registered?
“If it’s a total vacuum, go with something you share with the couple. Do you all like to drink together? Get them barware. You can add anything to make it your own. A wedding gift is a remembrance, a celebration — I want it to be personal!”
What’s the best wedding gift that you have given?
"I love pies — baking them with friends, eating them with friends — so I love to give an Emile Henry pie dish, a pastry blender, a pie bird, and James Peterson’s Baking book. If I wanted to go bigger, I’d add a pie server, aprons or potholders. I like to include a recipe of my favorite thing to make with the gift – I always give my blueberry pie recipe!"
Any go-to gift items in your store?
"I almost always get the Staub cast-iron Dutch oven! I’ll include a recipe for my favorite tomato sauce, sweet potato chili, or beer-battered cheese curds to fry in it."
What’s the right amount to spend on a wedding gift — for a shower, an engagement party, the wedding itself?
“It really varies; there’s a comfortable spot for everyone. When I work with couples who are creating registries, I suggest that they try to hit varying price points. For example, a guest can purchase a salt-and-pepper grinder as a complete gift set for $40. As a general guideline, $30 for engagement parties and $75 for a wedding gift [if you’re going solo] is a good starting point."
Baking by James Peterson, $28.79, available at Amazon; Staub Round Cocotte in Cast Iron, $195, available at Royal Design; Emile Henry Pie Dish, $20-$50, available at Emile Henry; Le Creuset Pie Bird, $11, available at JCP.
Hill’s Kitchen, 713 D Street SE; 202-543-1997.
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