Christmas Wishes

Once upon a time, I was giddy for Christmas. But that was many years ago. Now it seems it comes too quickly. When I see holiday stuff out in August, it really disappoints me. While I do love the concept of Christmas and the joyful spirit it evokes, I am not one who falls for the commercialization of it all. I really don't care if a company makes their 4Q earnings or not.

Rather than fight the crowds at the mall, I would rather stay home and bake for my friends and family creating whimsical and delicious concoctions. However, if I did succumb to the incredible amount of advertising that companies besiege us with...pressuring us into spending more than necessary and procuring unnecessary things, here are a few cooking related treats that might be on my wish list or even yours.

I have most every tool and appliance available, but the one thing I have a hard time bringing myself to buy is a Vitamix. Even though everyone says, "I can't believe you don't have one!" Yes, I know it's not just a blender, but rather a $500 blender--that can do almost anything. Even my paternal grandmother had one. But I don't. Maybe one day that will change.

Not that I have any plans to remodel our kitchen, but if I did, a wall mount pot filler would be one of the first things on my list. I realize it is not hard to fill a pot and carry it over to the stove, but I have always thought that this would be a cool thing to have. 

Jaclo wall mounted pot filler # J-KPF-25

Cookbooks are always a safe bet for gifting at the holidays. I have been head over heels with Lou Lambert's Big Ranch, Big City cookbook since October. We have made several recipes and are batting 100%. I just love it when you work from a cookbook and everything is spot-on successful. No even thinking this dish is so-so, but rather spectacular, worth the effort and leaves you asking "what's next?" Which brings me to another few cookbooks that might be on your wish list.

Michael Ruhlman is a genius. I loved his chef books (The Making of a Chef, The Reach of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef) and then he came out with Ratio. While I do not have this book in my culinary repertoire, the concept that most things can be prepared using a ratio is logical and he has made it a reality. Ruhlman's most recent release is Twenty which purports that there are 20 basic techniques that a cook needs to survive. Many have called this cookbook, which appeals to all levels of culinary folks, a "game-changer." And that's good enough for me to want it.

You may already know this, but I scream for ice cream. So it may come as no surprise that I would love, love (and love some more) to receive Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home cookbook. There are times when I would rather have a big bowl of ice cream for dinner than dinner. I can thank my maternal grandmother, Annie, for my affection of both ice cream and cooking.

Need more ideas on top cookbooks you might want to put on your list? The New York Times recently compiled their offerings of the year's most notable cookbooks.

I love spices, but how do you keep them fresh and where can you get unique blends of ethnic spices? I generally buy just a smidge of this spice and that spice as I need them from Central Market. For about 20 cents, I can get what I want and toss it without feeling guilty. It comes in a handy sealable bag that I then place in a big zip bag for safe keeping. But in an ideal world, I would like to have an array of contained spices. And this tubular rack just might do the trick, if like me, you had a very unorganized spice situation on your hands.

If you were to receive this little spice rack as a gift, an accompanying trip to New York to visit La Boite a Epice or Seattle to check out the World Spice Merchants would be ideal. No one would also shrug off an offer to go to Chicago to check out The Spice House either.

Looking for stocking stuffers and other unique gadgets? Head over to the brand new Sur la table store that opened at The Shops at La Cantera. This is a cook's paradise and even a mecca for someone who is just mildly interested in cooking. I have visited the Sur la table stores in both Seattle and Santa Fe and while the Seattle store is nice, the Santa Fe store is very small and not well merchandised.

However, with the resurgent interest in food and cooking, this new Sur la table store at La Cantera is quite impressive and well merchandised with quite an array of gift ideas for the home cook.
Holiday ornament for the baker in your life

Fabulous chef's knife

Salt cellar


From holiday ornaments to amazing knives to juicers, Sur la table has taken a hint from the success of Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and other cooking related stores and they have done it up this time! They also have a cooking school, if that is something that interests you.

I realize that this time of year is not so much about giving, but about being with the people you care about and sharing lots of laughs, spreading love, embracing the meaning of the holidays and cooking together. That was how it was when I was a kid and as I have gotten older I really appreciate that sense of pragmatism.

Whether your holidays are filled with presents or simply the presence of others (or a bit of both), I encourage you to take some time to remember what's really important during the season. Be sure to thank the people in your life who make it worth living. And cooking something special for them never hurts!

Buen provecho and ho-ho-ho to you and your family!
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