If you’re anything like me, you’re out on the sodden streets of Eugene today, scrambling to buy some last minute gifts. Here’s stuff that appealed to this cook. May it appeal to the cooks in your life, too!
A beautiful, high-quality, sturdy, imported Swiss fondue set. Even better, buy one yourself and have friends over for a fondue party.
Good recent cookbooks from the PNW, plus Hank Shaw’s (who gets a geographic pass), curated by Kathleen Bauer.
Naomi Duguid’s new Burma cookbook (available locally at Provisions). I have a number of Thai cookbooks, and none is perfect. So I’m ready to move to Burma, whose food is close to Thai but has more Indian influences. I noticed that interpretations of many of my favorite Thai recipes are in this book, and the pictures are gorgeous. Even better: we’re hosting Duguid on our next show on KLCC’s Food for Thought!
A set of teenage-oriented cookbooks from British celebrity wunderkind chef Sam Stern. They seem less fussy than Rozanne Gold’s teen cookbooks, and much less insulting than the “OMG I am a cooking idiot!!” style book of basics. I don’t love the whole celebrity chef thing, but he seems to have a good sense of what teens might like to cook and eat, so I bought one for my seventh-grade nephew for Christmas. We’ll test this idea out. Could crash and burn. What do I know?
A set of soufflé dishes made from French porcelain in 1/1.5/2 quart sizes. Alas, I bought the Chinese stuff because I’m cheap.
Speaking of cheap, these gorgeous stainless footed perforated bowls are not. Modeled on the complex pattern of an elegant lacy sea fan by my childhood classmate Anna Rabinowicz, either a nut or fruit bowl would make a lovely conversation piece. (Photo is RabLab’s.)
Since the Mason Shaker is sold out, consider this DIY bar shaker made from a canning lid and a drill. Redneck Manhattans. Then you wouldn’t feel bad about spending all that money on the soufflé dishes and the nut bowl.
A little terrine mold, complete with a wood press.
An All-Clad food mill. Between that and the terrine, I’ve become very interested in mashing all my food together lately. Not sure why.
A meat grinder attachment for a KitchenAid mixer. See above.
An Imperia pasta machine. You spend too much money on crackers and should be making them at home, to say nothing of pasta. This machine would do the trick.
Put your mashed foods on a pedestal, literally. I saw these clever Serveitup pedestals that can attach to any dish with a suction cup while I was shopping at a local kitchen store today.
A pH tester suggested by Punk Domestics alongside many other DIY gifts. It can give you a sense of which fruits and vegetables are low acid for canning (but do use a safe recipe).
Imported yellow Nordic split peas (they have them at Newman’s Fish Market, where you should also pick up some smoked whitefish dip and wine-marinated herrings).
Little packets of ground chile powder in all kinds of colors and flavors done by the chile farmers who roast ’em live in season at the Lane County Farmers Market. In the winter, they stock single-strains of various smoked chiles from mild to hot — find them at the holiday market at the fairgrounds. I’ve been relying heavily on the green pasilla chile powder this fall for everything I’d normally use with paprika — baked winter squash, mashed potatoes, popcorn…
And speaking of spice mixes, I was rather obsessed for a while with the Bengali spice mix called Panch Puran (a blend of fenugreek, cumin, black mustard seed, fennel seed, and onion seed); it’s terrific with fruit chutneys, cauliflower curry, and baked quince.
A bottle of the herbal liqueur Bénédictine to make the classic drink B&B with equal parts brandy and Bénédictine. This wintry cocktail was introduced to me by my neighbor the other day, and I’m sold.
Aaaaand, Michael Ruhlman’s new offset tasting/basting spoons. Seems like a simple thing, doesn’t it, so why hasn’t anyone made them ’til now? Buy three bundled with some lovely wood “paddles” and a slotted offset serving spoon.
A RELATED NOTE: do not buy the following — a hunk of pink salt; a panini press; pretzels topped with white frosting and pink and green squiggles; this banana slicer (read the reviews); Christmas ceramic anything; mulling spices; pocket-sized one-ingredient cookbooks; plaques that make pronouncements about the cook’s mood or sexual availability or types of food being served here (with or without prices). If you can’t think of anything, just go to a wine shop and ask them for a nice bottle of wine. Maybe something to go with fondue?
PLUS EXTRA POINTS for anyone who can tell me more about the white sticks on a string used as Christmas decorations in Amsterdam, above. Anyone?