Girls and Their Toys

I’m uber busy today – still playing catch-up after being out of the office for two weeks – but I thought I’d share some of my new toys with you.

‘Cause Christmas?  It was good to me this year.

I’ll skip the truly geeky stuff (the official BBC licensed, hand-painted glass Dalek and TARDIS Christmas ornaments) and the unbelievably adorable (the Winnie the Pooh sitting in a wreath with a honey pot Christmas ornament) (can you tell I love Christmas ornaments?) and get right down to brass tacks.

Spiral Slicer

Spiral Slicer

I’ve been seeing spiral slicers everywhere lately, and I finally said, “You know, I think I’d like one of those…”  My Better Half listens, and lo and behold – there was one under the Christmas tree.  I haven’t used it yet, but trust me – you’ll know when I do.  I’m finding the idea of butternut squash noodles and apple chips intriguing.

 Sous Vide Supreme

Sous Vide Supreme

Yup.

For the longest time, I couldn’t decide whether I lusted more for one of these or a Vitamix, so Beloved made up my mind for me.  I’m glad, because I. LOVE. THIS. THING.  It’s so damn easy to use – fill it with water and set the temperature at which you wish to cook your food, vacuum seal said food with some seasonings (and, in my case, fat – butter has been my choice every time so far), drop the package in the sous vide and walk away until you’re ready to eat.  I’ve used it four times so far – once with venison backstrap, once with a pork tenderloin, once with a beef tenderloin and once with a cold-smoked ham steak – and each and every time it produced incredibly flavorful and tender dishes.

Does anyone want to see recipes for it?  I know they’re not a common item in most kitches, and they’re just so ridiculously easy to use – what I wrote in the previous paragraph is pretty much it.  But I’ll be more than happy to post the venison recipe, which I’ve photographed, as well as more in the future if you like.

And finally, the gift that made me laugh the most.

Best. Apron. Ever.

Best. Apron. EVER.

Oldest Son really knows how to rock his mom’s apron collection.

And what did Santa bring you this year?

The Spoils of the Holidays

And by “holidays” I mean my birthday (December 22), Christmas, and our anniversary (January 2).

It’s okay – after 49 years, I’m used to it.

But anyhoo, here’s what I got:

Starting at the bottom left and going clockwise:  Michael Symon’s Live to Cook and the Joy of Cooking for my birthday; spice grinder and meat grinder for Christmas; the Essential Pepin and Hunt, Gather, Cook cookbook for our anniversary.

You know you’re jealous.

The spice and meat grinders work really well – I’m thrilled with both.  I’ve already written about Joy, and Michael Symon’s book is interesting, as well (the Braised Pork Belly I posted Monday was based on a recipe in Live to Cook and a couple of others I found online).  I haven’t had much chance to peruse Hunt, Gather, Cook yet, although I’m willing to bet it’s going to be fascinating; it was written by Hank Shaw, author of the blog Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook.  As you might guess, Hank hunts, fishes, grows and forages as much of his food as he can and his blog is as interesting and informative as it is aesthetically pleasing.  Oh, and he was a James Beard Award nominee for Best Food Blog in both 2009 and 2010.

I’m sort of leaving Hank’s book for last, if for no other reason than Beloved has taken an interest in it (in fact, he found the blog and ordered me the book) and am working my way through the Essential Pepin.  I don’t know how I’d overlooked Jacques Pepin for so long – I mean, I knew who he was, naturally, but I’d never really paid much attention to him, which is really a shame.  His recipes are beautiful without being overly complicated, and I am slowly working my way through it front to back, marking many I want to try. Yes, even with my wonky diet, I can cook from “mainstream” cookbooks.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my haul.  What did Santa bring you this year?

The G Man In Oil

Last week, a package came in the mail.  I handed it to Beloved and said, “I know it has my name on it, but you should open this.”

“What is it?”

“Open it and see.”

So he did, and found this:

Okay, it wasn’t in a frame (and certainly wasn’t hanging on a wall), but it was, and is, an unbelievably thoughtful gift from Michele at It’s a Dog’s Life.  Michele is not only a very intelligent woman (she has a degree in Library Science) and marvelous cook, but, as you can see, an incredibly talented painter.  And generous as well; I did not ask her for this, she just did it – she liked the picture.  She invested her time and talent (and money – canvas, brushes and paint don’t grow on trees) and then shipped it to us.

Please take time to visit Michele’s blog.  You will find a fascinating array of history and recipes there, all beautifully presented.  And while you’re there, notice that she does paintings on commission, and has other examples of her exquisite work.

Michele, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, thank you.  I don’t think we could tell you enough.