What I would really like for Christmas is something much like the Chipmunks…new front teeth and no braces! I just had braces put on about 6 weeks ago and it truly is not a fun experience, especially at an advanced age. Oh, well. Make lots of soup and mushy food for the next 10 or 11 months and drink lots of wine! That is the way to get through this. Not necessarily in that order.
Now since getting rid of the braces is not an option for me for Christmas, I can tell you the things that I would ask for if I did not already have them as well as the goodies I might like to get.
My husband would tell you I have way too much kitchen stuff and do not need a thing. Well, kitchen goodies and shoes are two things a girl can always have more of. You never know when you are going to need a cherry pitter (recently purchased and not used yet) or a pair of red patent leather heels (I did not buy those, but thought about it).
Here are some things that I would say are hard to live without if you do a lot of cooking or playing in the kitchen.
1) Cast Iron Dutch Oven – 5 or 7 quarts. It is absolutely essential for soups, stews, braising and almost anything you can think of. It will substitute for all the other cooking vessels you do not need (tagine). It goes from stove top to oven and evenly cooks foods. I think Le Creuset is the best. Would not be able to survive without it (well, sort of).
2) Fine mesh sieve – This item does all sorts of kitchen chores. It sifts, filters, skims, makes soups and custards smooth. I have several styles and sizes as well as a chinois. They make preparing, cooking and finishing dishes much easier.
3) Really good mixer. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer as well as a less expensive mixer. There is no comparison. You cannot get the same texture or volume in whipping or beating without the more powerful machine and the right attachments. It also is nearly impossible to do bread dough. Big gift request if you make it, but a lifelong investment.
4) A really good set of knives. Again, this isn’t cheap, but it is a long-term investment. If you are only allowed one knife this year, find a top-notch 8 inch chef’s knife. That is the one I go to before any of the others.
5) A slow cooker. We recently bought a new Kitchen Aid slow cooker after extensive reviews. The All Clad cooker had good reviews as well, but we opted for the Kitchen Aid version. The slow cooker seems to be making a comeback in these times of comfort food, so it should be an option on your Christmas wish list.
6) A high quality digital kitchen scale (not spring-loaded) to weigh your ingredients and not measure them. It makes an incredible difference in baked goods.
7) A good oven thermometer. You can’t be cooking at 400 degrees if your oven temperature is in actuality at 375 degrees. I use mine all the time.
Now, if I could put a wish list together of things I don’t need, but would want…
1) Tagine. I know I can use the Dutch oven, but if you make Moroccan dishes, this is a very nifty and authentic way to cook them. And they look so pretty (think shoes)!
2) More cookbooks. A foodie always loves new cookbooks. Again, I know that I have way too many, but anything French (I am now into pastry cookbooks) is always a great gift.
3) Authentic espresso maker. Not the ones with the pods, but the real thing. Better yet, a built-in coffee and espresso maker!
4) Cuisinart Mix-It-In Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker. Now we all know that none of us needs this, but it sure looks like fun! The sprinkle dispenser is very cool.
5) The ultimate gift would be lots more counter and storage space for all the kitchen stuff I have and may end up with in the future. There are so many goodies out there…it is nearly impossible to find a place to store it all along with dishes, wine glasses, serving pieces, etc. I am sure this may be a request for many of you.
I hope Santa brings you all the goodies you want for Christmas. Almost any kitchen item is a good one, is my thinking, but certain ones are definitely more useful than others (kind of like the shoes we want and the ones we actually need).
Happy cooking and Happy Holidays!