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The Gift That Gives
Last year we shared a list of things we thought were unique gifts for cooks that could easily have been overlooked in the 16-ton avalanche of holiday catalogues and eye blinking pop-up adverts on our screens. So the tradition continues with our second gift list, which also includes an experience and a service as gifts. In our 2018 post we headlined a book that was a fundraiser for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. It had some terrific recipes, including this one for an avocado dip by Munira Mahmud. She has created a new London-based service, Kina Mama inspired by her experience being showcased in that book, Together: Our Community Cookbook.
This year we would like to highlight another book that supports a unique approach to feeding people in need, and also training them as volunteers and to be certified restaurant workers in various refettorios. The book, titled Bread Is Gold illustrates recipes and menus crafted from food waste created by author Massimo Bottura’s fellow chefs. You can read about their remarkable project in this earlier KD post.
The book is in part a memoir of his friendships with the featured chefs, part cookbook with recipes broken down for home use, and lastly a testament to creating grand meals with tired ingredients and leftovers. As with the plastic in the ocean, we throw an extraordinary amount of food into our trash bins. Each chapter introduces the chef, the recipes for the menu, and the thought that went into the structure of the meal. Some techniques were new to me and easily incorporated with leftovers from my fridge and cupboards. Perhaps most startling to Bottura (and to me!) was the Brazilian recipe for a banana peel chutney. Definitely a January project.
A Service As A Gift
Why not treat your carver-in-chief (or any friend in desperate need) with a gift of having their knives beautifully sharpened. We received the most emails on this particular supplier in the 2018 KD Gift Guide. You can easily send loved ones a gift certificate from Precision Knife Sharpening Service. You or the recipient can ship your knives to them, and they will ship them back, lethally sharp. Or, if you are local, drop them off and pick them up when you get the email announcing that your knives are ready. Check out their website for the possibilities, including sharpening a fancy but dull pocket knife. Dave Arnold has even selected a diamond based sharpening steel that you can purchase to keep your knives in shape at home — a step that’s often overlooked.
As you can see from our “In My Neighborhood” post (which was one of the most widely shared by KD readers), Dave can probably rescue knives you thought were beyond help. I have taken my knives to several places for test sharpening, and this neighborhood gem is superb. Recently they added the same service for your gardening tools, such as hatchets, pruners and axes. If you have stored your lawn mower for the winter, this might be a good time to have PKS sharpen the blades (they do not sharpen reel mower blades)
As a KD reader, Sherrie and Dave offer a free knife sharpening for every four knives you send them with the code KITCHENDETAIL entered when you check out.
And An Experience
The quantity of toys my kids had always astounded me, and we tried to be really careful about monitoring the accumulation. That is why these days I try to give clothing or an experience to my children friends instead. For instance, tickets to see a magical theater production or, as in a recent post, a series of cooking lessons always seem to be a Major Hit. Mari Coelho’s cooking classes for children are now my go-to gift for the kids in my extended family. Mari makes sure that each class provides some scientific knowledge, a food’s cultural heritage and geography, plus an understanding of nutrition and ecology. And while this may sound like a stretch for tykes, the children really do come away from the class with confidence in cooking, and some surprising anecdotes about what we eat. You can get gift certificates in various amounts and then the parents of your designated cook can choose from a changing roster of classes. There is no expiration date on the gift certificates, so you can wait for different seasonal offerings
Made Really Well In The USA
Lamson is one of my favorite kitchen tool manufacturers in the US. Their “line cook spatula” should be by every stove. A small company with a long history, they offer knives and kitchen tools in several handle options.Their lifetime warranty is rigorously honored, My choice for a gift that would be much appreciated by anyone who has a sink and a stove would be their Santoku Knife or Tomato Knife. I keep an inexpensive Santoku in my travel kit (I had left a really good one in an apartment in London – lesson learned) but their really good one stays here. The tomato knife has been my go-to gift for friends. I use it every day, for cutting fruit for breakfast, slicing tomatoes, even peeling a thick skin off of a fruit or vegetable. The two little prongs at the end were designed so that you could lift a slice as you would with a fork. You will be surprised how many times you will pull out this little knife.
Lamson Products has very generously offered a 15% discount to Kitchen Detail readers for both the featured Santoku knives and Tomato knives in the three Premier handle choices. This code can be used more than one time, but cannot be combined with other discounts offered by Lamson. Please use the following code LACUISINE19 in the coupon field when you check out with your gift choices.
The other Made In America gifts I particularly like to take to friends abroad are the suede potholders from Ernst & Company in the Catskills, New York. Functional, top quality, with attention to design and production, I have never found anything quite like them when I have shopped in the EU. If you have not read our earlier post about these potholders, take advantage of the discount now and get some for yourself too. They come in three styles, a 9-inch square fabricated to be an oven mitt as well as a large potholder, the standard 7.5-inch square ones and a skillet sleeve. Designer Tanya Ernst created a killer painted canvas bag, which I abused for almost a year and it is still standing. During the Christmas season, though, she’s created a velvet matlassé version. New to me are her lovely sets of suede coasters in several color palettes. Her ideas and workmanship never cease to amaze me.
KD readers have until December 10, 2019 to use her 20% discount. Use the humorous code NANCYSCHRISTMAS when you check out.
The Art Of The Stocking Stuffer
I love the fun part of function and Monkey Business nails it. We always sold out of our Monkey Business selections at Christmas. Their Corkers are in my bag when dining in restaurants with children, as they keep those who are below drinking age amused while the adults polish off the bottle of wine. Their current addition to my kitchen is their Ravioli spoon rest. It’s fun, unbreakable and minimal in design. Their pasta spoon looks like spaghetti but really works to fork up long strands of pasta, and Pegzini clothespins remain two of my non-corker favorites. The latter doesn’t have to be relegated to hanging laundry. Below, they are used to train Jasmine along wires to create a leafy screen.
Monkey Business has offered KD Readers a 10% discount that is valid through December 16,2019. It cannot be combined with other discounts available at Monkey Business. There is now an online shop for US-based clients and one for International, so make sure you link to the US shop site and then fill out the code 10%MBLacuisineus when you check out.
The Shopper’s Reward
I always feel like a restorative cocktail is necessary after running around on holiday errands and online gift shopping. And since I shared with you my mother-in-law’s fruitcake recipe earlier, this season’s suggestion is our slightly updated version of one of her favorite cocktails – the Sidecar. Dorothy Remington Pollard was very chic ( she made many of her own stunning outfits) and knew a thing or two about cocktails. She whisked my husband into the Knife and Fork – a very swish restaurant in DC in the 1950s- to celebrate his birthday and first legal cocktail, which was a Sidecar. It is thought to have been invented after World War I, most likely in Paris, and was indeed named after a soldier’s sidecar attachment on his motorcycle. This one is adapted from an excellent book on making cocktails titled The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morganthaler. Do include the orange peel garnish, as it takes the cocktail to another level.
One Final Thought
This cutlery set was a hit last Christmas in Italy. Some of the adults were a teensy bit jealous that this Lego-like set of tools did not come in a bigger size. And apparently they make the most gruesome breakfast quite edible. Really, a company that calls itself The Happy Place On Earth should reconsider and make some big people happy with a grown-up version. Apparently a portion of the profit on this set is donated to Médecins Sans Frontières, which actually does makes me happy.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.