Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gifts for Cooks (and Wannabe Cooks)

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he loaded up his pack a bit at Sur la Table yesterday. I was a little bummed that I was unable to make the trek to the All-Clad Outlet sale last weekend in PA.

I was in search of a 14" stainless skillet. If you have an electric range, sorry, you don't need a 14" skillet, unless the entire cooktop turns into a burner. I saw a 15 1/2 skillet at Tuesday Morning this week. That baby was so heavy, you'd need two guys to carry it Cleopatra style - lol.

I was fondling the store brand pans and searching for the All-Clad, when a salesclerk came to assist. I said confidently that I wanted a 14" All-Clad skillet, like I was prepared to pay $200 for it. She lit up and said "If you don't mind brushed stainless, we aren't carrying them anymore and they are on clearance - 30% off." Mind? I ain't cooking on the outside of the pan.

She went to check the stock. And came back with the hard to photograph, gleaming beauty shown above. And they also applied my professional discount, bringing the cost of the pan to $86, roughly half of the normal price. They had another skillet, plus a few other pieces on the clearance rack, which she led me to, in case I wanted some for gifts.

I fondled them all, but left them for you to fight over, assuming you survive Eton Place's ridiculous parking lot. I figured I could at least go out swinging if someone tried to run over me thinking they were going to get my space when I was merely depositing some packages in the vehicle.

The rosemary topiary ($10.99) at Trader Joe's IS my Christmas Tree. It would also make a great hostess gift. It smells amazing.

Next stop, Penzey's. (Spoiler alert: I did all of my gift shopping here). These cute little gift boxes with 4 jars, including one of my all time favorites, Mural of Flavor, are a mere $7.95 before the end of the year. (I think they increase to $12.95, but don't quote me). They also have plenty of other gift ready packages at reasonable prices. And a bonus if you want to avoid the parking lot - order on-line!

I really loved my original motion detector soap dispenser, but unfortunately it lived a brief life before inexplicably dying. No amount of battery changing, banging it on the counter, or poking at it revived it. So I was pretty happy to find this upgraded version at Target. It has a backlit (when in use) display that shows amount of soap to be dispensed, fullness indicator, and battery life indicator. Just keep it out of the sun, or it will dispense happily by itself. About twenty bucks, batteries not included.

I've lost a couple of small balls of cooking twine to inquisitive kitties (thankfully not for a long while, especially now that they are trained not to go in the kitchen), but this dispenser with a built in cutter is the perfect way to keep it handy. Indispensable for keeping meat and fowl together when roasting - $14.95, including the holder.

Another key kitchen item, indispensable for determining if your meat is properly cooked without cutting a big gash in it and letting out of the good juices, is a small digital thermometer. These are only $10 - I seem to accidently kill them, or lose them, so I like to have a few spares around. Nice color, huh? They have plenty of other colors.

For a little local holiday flavor, don't forget the December winter farmer's market at Happy Days Center is next Saturday, 12/19. Lazy Bee Farm offers a great variety of soaps and beeswax products, but I am partial to this rosemary flavored honey.

I tried to curb my acquisition of new cookbooks this year, and was fairly successful until recently. Here's a stack of both old and new favorites.

Stay tuned for a more detailed review of the cookbooks.

Happy Shopping

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