Fran's salted caramels /

Everything I’d want for Christmas if I didn’t already have it in a box somewhere

Over a month ago, in this post here, I mentioned that a flood decommissioned my kitchen and I’d tell you about it later. Well, it’s later, a month later in fact, and the kitchen is still decommissioned.

Suffice to say, I know from personal experience it’s really, really great to have an automatic icemaker in the refrigerator. But if the little hose that supplies the icemaker springs a leak, it could cause $25,000 worth of damage and decommission your kitchen – the place you work and love and where you make all the yummy foods that you’d really, really miss if you couldn’t make them – for over 2  months. And counting.

Thank goodness for insurance. But having insurance doesn’t make putting my kitchen back together any quicker and, if I ever wished I was Jeannie and could just blink and make something happen, it is now. I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking in the bathroom with a hot plate and a toaster oven, but – well, it’s not the same. Obviously.

And so, inspired by the tools, toys, and ingredients that I have and love – but am currently unable to use because I have no kitchen and they’re packed up in a box somewhere – I give you this holiday gift guide.

Le Creuset spatulasSilicone spatulas
Silicone anything in the kitchen is awesome, as is anything from Le Creuset, so of course I’m mad for Le Creuset’s silicone spatulas and spoonulas. I love the design, the pop-y colors, and how, unlike rubber spatulas, you can stick them into the hottest pan or skillet and not worry about bending or melting. Every kitchen should have 3 or 4 in different sizes. Once I get my hands back on mine, I’m going to cook a pan-seared chicken breast and use a silicone spatula to deglaze the pan and make a white wine butter sauce. Patience…

Stainless steel mixing bowlsStainless steel mixing bowls
They don’t need to have handles or spouts or non-skid coating on the bottom. In fact, the fact that they’re not fancy and you don’t have to worry about breaking or scratching or otherwise messing them up is exactly what makes these the bowls your giftee will reach for. Back when I started cooking more than casually, my brother got me a set and they continue to be one of my favorite kitchen gifts ever. (Thanks, Bro.)

Digital kitchen scaleDigital kitchen scale
It’s just so much easier and more accurate to measure some things by weight than by volume, and yet so many kitchens are without a digital kitchen scale. The best have a tare function, so you can put a bowl or measuring cup on the scale and then zero it out before weighing your food, and also a large surface, so there’s plenty of room for whatever you’re weighing. Looking forward to using mine again to measure flour for pizza dough.

Riedel wine glassesRiedel wine glasses
Riedel wine glasses are so THE wine glasses that many wineries will only allow their wines to be photographed in Riedel. They make a specifically-shaped glass for each wine variety – as in a certain shape for Pinot Noir, a certain shape for Bordeaux, a certain shape for Chardonnay – but your giftee would be well equipped to simply have a set for white and a set for red. If you’re feeling reeeeally generous, go for a set for sparkling wine as well. I like the Vinum series.

Truffle saltTruffle salt
For those times when truffles are out of season – or you don’t feel like paying $2000 a pound – truffle salt is a great way for your giftee to get some truffley goodness into their everyday cooking. Try it sprinkled onto a steak, over scrambled eggs, or mixed into mashed potatoes. Oh. My. God.

O citrus olive oilsO citrus olive oils
Another delicious way to add extra flavor without a lot of bother, these oils are citrus fruits crushed together with olives – so you get real citrus taste. Waaay better than oils where citrus flavors are added. O has lots of delicious citrus olive oil flavors to choose from – my husband once indulged me with blood orange, Meyer lemon, ruby grapefruit, and Tahitian lime all at once. Is it any wonder I love him so?

CaramelsFran’s salted caramels
Just when you think nothing could be more swoon-inducing than one of Fran’s bittersweet chocolate-covered caramels with gray salt, you try a piece of her milk chocolate-covered caramels with smoked salt – and you swoon all over again. (A really indulgent gift box containing both is pictured at the top of this post.) I’m trying not to eat too many of these to ease my frustration with not being able to cook, but am doing only a so-so job. Happily, there are worse sins, and few that are better-tasting.

Farmers Market DessertsFarmers Market Desserts
By my friend Jennie Schacht, and hailed by everyone from Good Morning America to NPR, this book is full of Jennie’s trademark “imaginative yet attainable” recipes featuring seasonal, farm-fresh produce. Jennie even includes a cool chart for identifying fruits, vegetables, local honey, and other produce at its best, as well as tips about the different varieties of different fruits. Lots of yummy stuff to love.

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, GooeySticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey:
Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth

By my friend Jill O’Connor and, yep, another dessert book. Maybe I’m wanting to cook something sweet? Once I can again, Jill’s book will be my favorite place to go for over-the-top yet comforting indulgence. Also check out her Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids.

Wine Lover's CompanionThe New Wine Lover’s Companion
The perfect gift for every wine nerd on your Christmas list. It’s basically a wine dictionary, small enough to keep nearby, but jam-packed with over 4,000 entries, including grapes, producers, regions, winemaking terms, and more – plus lots and lots of great stuff in the appendix, including maps, winetasting tips, and serving temperatures. When I can’t remember the difference between premier cru and grand cru, whether Aligoté is a grape or a region, or if Spätlese is sweeter than Auslese – I mean, who always can? – this is my go-to resource.

100 Perfect Pairings100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love
You didn’t think I’d finish without mentioning my own book, did you??? At about the price of a bottle of wine, it’ll help your giftee enjoy ALL their bottles of wine. Small enough to fit into a stocking, yet big enough to keep ‘em in delicious food and wine pairings all year long.

Here’s wishing you a delicious holiday season. I’m hoping Santa brings me a new kitchen by Christmas – keep your fingers crossed for me!

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