It’s too late to order anything and be sure it will arrive in time for Christmas. Not that I’m sure it much matters in this moment: time has become so elastic.
Still, I thought I’d suggest something small today. A stocking stuffer, if you will.
We’ve all become acquainted with hand sanitizers. Most, in fact, like those gigantic bottles in front of stores, are perfectly horrid. So finding one that you like so much you spray your hands for the pure pleasure of the scent seems fairly momentous.
That’s how I felt about this Coconut and Lemon hand sanitizer gel. I was so dismayed when my local store ran out that I searched for it on line. And discovered the even more appealing sanitizer spray.
It’s not much, but in this strange dark moment it would make a very thoughtful gift for just about anyone.
I bought it for $2 at a thrift shop in Berkeley in 1974, and I’ve used it almost every day since.
It has no bells and no whistles: it just works. And it wasn’t even designed to open wine. It’s an antique beer opener.
If you’re looking for a really thoughtful gift for someone who likes wine (or artisanal beer brews with corks instead of caps), you could not do better than a vintage beer corkscrew. You can find them in many antique stores, rummage shops and the like. And there are dozens of online sources at wildly varying prices. Try this one – or this one.
And while you’re at, you might consider getting one for yourself.
Okay, I know you’re over hot sauce.These days everybody seems to be making it, and there are entire stores exclusively devoted to the stuff.
But I just discovered a line of hot sauces that have real character. Hot Fire Hot Sauces are made by Nate Courtland, a chef who was raised in Nogales, Arizona (where they definitely know their peppers), these are more than merely hot.They have balance and soul.
Made with organic ingredients sourced from local farmers, they’re fermented in charred oak whisky barrels, which gives them real character..
They’re all delicious, bu the one that moves me the most is Ghost Pepper Cran-Apple, the hottest of the lot. The heat of those Carolina Reapers is tempered with roasted garlic, diced apple cider and the sneaky tang of fresh cranberries.It’s kind of addictive.
And hey – at $7 a bottle it makes a truly lasting impression. A little of this goes a very long way.
You find old copper pots in antique stores all the time, and you stand looking at them, coveting their heft, their color, their sheer coolness in the kitchen. But then you look at their battered state and know you’ll never bother to have them re-tinned.Which pretty much makes them useless.And so you buy a new copper pot – which doesn’t make you nearly as happy.
If you want a vintage copper pot, one filled with both beauty and history, go to East Coast Tinning. Jim Hamman not only finds breathtakingly beautiful cookware, he also re-tins it.So your friends can start cooking on copper right away.
I love this little covered gratin pan so much that I’ve suggested Jim copy it and sell it new.
Jim makes his own gorgeous line of hand-made copper pans. Some are lined in sterling silver – which is a better conductor of heat than even copper. And now, in an extremely bold move, he’s making a line of solid sterling pans with leather-covered handles. They’re sexy and gorgeous – kind of like jewelry for the kitchen – and if you have a lot of money and want to give someone a gift they will never forget, consider this incredible solid sterling saute pan.
Want to know how to cook in it? Here’s Jim’s suggestion.
“I have perfected a process eliminating eggs sticking to tin- and silver-lined copper pans. Here it goes:
1.) In your favorite egg pan, set on Medium heat
2.) Add about a tablespoon olive oil
3.) Add a thin butter pat – coat the cooking surface
4.) Heat only until a drop of water dances on the pan (crucial point)
5.) Add eggs – Scrambled for Omelette – Whole for fried
6.) Cook….while still slightly wet on top (they should not stick),
– Flip fried eggs
– Fill and fold an omelette – flip
7.) Slide off onto a warmed plate
8.) For the second set – slightly LOWER the heat add a 1/2 pat butter – Repeat.
One of my favorite places to shop for gifts is Yunhong in Chinatown, a small elegant shop that looks rather strange among the ordinary geegaw emporiums on Mott Street. This branch of a shop in Beijing sells nothing but chopsticks (and the occasional hand-crafted hair clip).
Their wares range from a couple of dollars up to $600; these are chopsticks you give as wedding gifts or take to a special dinner. (And should you pull them out at a fancy omakase meal, your sushi chef is bound to be impressed.)
If you care to buy their wares online, there are a few limited options here.