Friday, December 2, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Dear Santa...

What's on your Christmas wish list this year?  A fancy electronic doo-dad?  A designer handbag?  Before the whole month of December sweeps by in a giant wave of parties and wrapping paper and baked goods, I wanted to give you some great gift ideas for your foodie friends, no matter what your budget!  Click on the pictures to be redirected to to view details and order these items!

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is a perfect gift, especially as we are entering into stew and braise season.  These pots are equally at home on the stove, in the oven, and on a holiday table.  Le Creuset is the most popular and well-known brand, and they come in beautiful colors, but it comes with a designer price tag.  I use a 5.5-quart Martha Stewart Collection pot that I got as a wedding present more than three years ago, and I absolutely love it.  I looked around online, and apparently they've stopped making that particular one, but as long as the pot is enameled cast iron, I'd say go for a deal.  The 5.5-quart size is a great all-purpose soup-stew-braising-baking pot, and I use mine all the time.  It heats really evenly, so you can get a perfect sear on meats without scorching.  I've even used it to make pudding.  Check at your local TJ Maxx, Marshall's, or HomeGoods to find discounts on the Le Creuset brand.


Oh Kitchen Aid, oh Kitchen Aid, how lovely are your features...  This thing is amazing.  It kneads dough, whips cream and egg whites (meringue, how I love thee), and creams butter in the flashiest of flashes.  If you already have a Kitchen Aid, I've heard great things about the ice cream maker attachment.  (I have heard equally lackluster things about the pasta machine attachment, but to be fair, I have never tried either one.)

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A couple of different thermometers for you to consider.  On the left is a simple one that hangs from one of the shelves in your oven, and tells you the actual temperature inside!  The temperature gauge on an oven can have a 10- to 15-degree swing, and do you really want to risk that when you're baking?  I didn't think so.  The little one on the right is great for roasting meats - stick the probe in, set the digital part on the counter, and close the door.  No more opening the door and letting all the heat escape while you poke the meat (and release the juices!).  You can even set an alarm that goes off when the inside of the meat reaches the desired temperature.  Done and done.


A Microplane grater/zester.  I finally bought myself one, and used it for the first time last night.  Oh. My. Gosh. I can't tell you how many times I have accidentally grated my knuckles while trying to zest a lemon or grate some fresh ginger.  If only I had known sooner that for ten measly dollars, my fingers could be saved... This thing is a miracle.  Get it.


Tongs!  Another amazingly useful tool.  Before I had these, I didn't know I needed them.  Now, I find myself reaching for them all the time.  My favorite use for them: tossing hot pasta in a homemade sauce.


This past weekend, I was rolling out the dough to make the butter horns (our homemade crescent rolls), and I was getting flour all over my black shirt (BLACK?!  What was I thinking?).  And then I remembered that old-timey stroke of genius, that item of clothing that has been worn by generations of women, but somehow forgotten by ours, THE APRON.  I have one, but I don't wear it, because it's indecent.  It's me as Venus.  It's...  funny and scandalous.  So it's basically like I don't have one.  But!  I want one and I love the ones they have at Anthropologie.  They're are whimsical and sweet.

Visit Jen for more quick takes!  Have a great weekend, friends!


  1. We must be twins separated at birth! These are my favorite kitchen things, too. Plus my crock pot and my Pampered Chef chopper.

  2. Oh yes, the crock pot! I've been using it to make chicken stock - SO easy!

  3. 1- I love a dutch oven! Aldi has a dutch oven on sale right now for either $20 or $30 and it is so heavy on the bottom.
    2- I also love a Kitchen Aid! We have the pasta attachments and they are amazing! We used to make pasta with a hand crank pasta thinner and the Kitchen Aid attachment has cut the time down by 2/3.
    6- God bless the person who invented tongs!
    7- I have that Venus apron! They also make a Statue of David one. :)

  4. That is you apron!!?? Ahahaha... it just so you! ;)

  5. @Katie: 2- Wow! I stand corrected about the pasta attachment. 7- I saw a lot of David boxers in Italy :)

    @Hillary: yes, I own it. I only think I've worn it once!

  6. I received a Kitchen Ait stand mixer from my mom for Christmas four years ago or so (it was a great Black Friday deal!) and it is probably the best Christmas present I ever received. It's useful and something I'll have forever. Every time I use it, I think about how excited my mom was to be able to buy it for me by getting up so early in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving!

  7. The Martha Stewart pots were recalled: