Gift Guide, Day 20

December 20, 2012

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These tiny cocottes arrived in the mail yesterday – a gift from a friend – and I find them so useful, and so charming, that I’m instantly including them in my gift guide.

These enamelled Le Creuset pots are really small : just two inches high and three and a half inches in diameter. Perfect for shirred eggs, baking individual bread puddings or little loaves of meat.  They’re just the thing to reheat stew on a cold night and ideal for spoonbread. 

And they offer so many gifting possibilities.  I’m filling one with really good pecans, another with saffron and a third with Rancho Gordo popcorn.  Other thoughts? Piment d’Espalette. Black Talamanca peppercorns.  Dried porcini. Tiny bottles of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  A beautiful assortment of red chiles…..The possibilities are really endless. 

You can find them in just about any kitchen store (colors seem to vary). And, of course, online.  Here’s another option:


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Gift Guide, Day 19

December 19, 2012


The first time I encountered a magazine called Garden and Gun I thought it was a joke.  Then I looked inside. Terrific writing. Beautifully designed. Surprising. A heartfelt ode to the south – and lots of fun for those of us who don’t live there. 

The magazine’s got a store – well most magazines do – selling totes and caps and useless items that nobody needs. But they also sell a strange range of exotic items like hand-crafted bow ties and tweed hunting vests (for women), which tells you something about who they’d like to be.

Now they’ve started something called the Sideboard which would make a rather opulent gift for a good friend. It promise that various sweet and savory Southern foods will be delivered eight times over the year. Who doesn't dream of biscuits, pecans, and pimento cheese? This little surprise package would certainly be welcome at my house. 

Even if you’re not inclined to spend a lot of money, go take a look at the website.  From the cold northeast, where I’m now sitting, it looks like a very sweet life.



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Gift Guide, Day 18

December 18, 2012


The Corkcicle pretty much falls into the why-didn’t-anyone-ever-think-of-that-before category.  This instant icicle cools wine from the inside, eliminating the need for an ice bucket.  (Anyone who’s ever tried to find space for one of those bulky monsters in a tiny New York kitchen can appreciate the beauty of that.)  

You simply store it in the freezer, and then replace the cork with the self-contained ice wand. It will keep white wine cold and cool red wine down to cellar temperature in a trice. They’re new to the market, which means that your friends probably don’t already own them, they’re available in many places, come in many colors and cost less than $25.  And if you're ordering online, it will still arrive by Christmas. Pretty cool!


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A small Christmas miracle

December 17, 2012

Todays’s gift is a gift to everyone who, like me, keeps doing stupid things with their IPhone.  Last year I dropped it in the toilet (don’t ask).  Last week I left it in the pocket of my jeans and then threw them into the washing machine.  Yes, the phone went through the entire cycle.  And yes, It came out (not surprisingly), utterly, totally dead.

Brand new phone. Gone.  $500 to replace it.  A friend suggested that I fill a bowl with rice, bury the phone in the rice and then put the phone on the heater for three days.  Sounded stupid, but I was desperate.  What did I have to lose?

Last night I dug the phone out of the rice and turned it on.  Nothing. Of course.  Then I plugged it into a charger – just for science you understand – and left it over night.

 Here's my phone this morning. Good as new.  Unbelievable.  

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Merry Christmas.  



Gift Guide Day 16

December 16, 2012

Adopt an olive tree?  What a cool idea. 

Here’s how it works: You go to a beautiful website and scroll through the various orchards on offer. There are more than a dozen in Le Marche and Abruzzo, with a picture of each, a little biography of the olive farmer, and a description of the oil they make. You choose the orchard you want, and “adopt” one of the olive trees.  They, in turn, send you the oil from your olives when it’s pressed.  (The next olive oil will be shipped in March.) 

This is, in essence, an international CSA (community supported agriculture), a way to collaborate with a farmer, become part of his farm. It offers the consumer a way to participate in the creation of a product, while providing financial security to the farmer.

Best of all – you can go visit your tree and meet the farmer.  Hard to think of a better excuse to visit rural Italy. 

In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I’ve never done this. But I’m about to adopt olive trees for all my friends.  



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