I’ve got to be honest…I’ve been so busy cooking and teaching these days that I’ve become a rubbish blogger. That’s okay because I get to cook and connect with people one-on-one which is very meaningful, quite lovely, and the reason why I do what I do.
But not blogging also means that I’ve become a rubbish affiliate. You didn’t know I'm an affiliate? Don’t worry; me either. I totally forgot…until Amazon sent me a little reminder. And I think I know what you're thinking: Amazon? I get it: I prefer to buy local but I also live in a small town where I just can't find all the things I need. That's where Amazon comes in.
So, in the spirit of transparency and holiday gift-giving, here are a few of my favorite things that I really do use A LOT. Maybe your favorite foodie or home chef would like them, too.
Thank you and Happy Holidays!
1) I have a beautiful French marble pastry board at home. It's great when I'm making a TON of biscotti or pierogi. But it's also very heavy and takes up a lot of space. And while lifting it is a great ab workout, it's too unwieldy and fragile to schlep to a cooking class or a client's home.
Instead, I would use a large plastic cutting board, a clean counter or the silicone baking mat that fits my half-size sheet pan. These options worked but none of them were that great. So, when I found this extra large silicone pastry mat earlier this year, it made working with dough so much easier!
I love how as soon as it rolls out, it lies flat. Plus, it has a handy measurement to keep your pie crusts even.
2) Every pastry board needs a good rolling pin! And yes, I have a marble one that I got from a market in Italy. It's pretty...pretty heavy! I tend to leave it in the drawer and use this wood French-style one instead. It's light, easy to use (especially for kids in my classes), and it rolls out dough evenly. It's also made in Maine at Fletcher's Mill.
If you use this rolling pin, clean it with a damp cloth and allow it to air-dry. Never submerge it in water or put it in the dishwasher or it can warp. And that would be a shame!
3) I have a love/aversion thing with pastry & piping bags: they can make food pretty but the bags themselves are often a pain. They're "disposable" plastic that must be recycled; homemade from zip-top bags or parchment paper which can be oozy (yes, that is a word!); or reusable coated canvas bags that seem to get stiffer and more difficult to use as time goes by.
Okay, enough complaining! Enter these silicone pastry bags. I've been using them for almost two years and so far, so good! Great for swirling white chocolate mousse on dark chocolate buttons, dappering up deviled eggs or filling cannoli!
4) I used to go through nonstick skillets quickly (like every 6 months). Then I found T-fal ProGrade Titanium nonstick skillets. They're pricey but with daily use, they've lasted 2 - 3 years and are still going strong. I love the 7.5" for the random veggie patty or egg and the 10" skillet for pancakes or blintzes (about to come in handy for Chanukah!). I also have the 11.5" skillet but it seems like it is being phased out and replaced by the T-fal Prometal Pro Nonstick. I haven't used that product so I can't recommend it. But the other pans? Sure! Here they are:
5) I have a Vitamix® blender from 1999 that is an absolute workhorse (I know...why am I not affiliated with Vitamix®?). At various times, I've dropped the tamper tool and the lid plug into the blades. The tamper tool is long gone and the lid plug--like me--looks seasoned but is still working! Anyway, the only complaint I have with my Vitamix® is that the narrow container makes it difficult for thicker foods like hummus or homemade peanut butter to pour out. Then, I found this beauty: a blender spatula from Sur la Table! The end of the spatula is slightly curved to fit around the blender blades, and voila! No more wasted food and no more frustration!
6) I already spend enough time in my pajamas...like writing this blog post...so when I'm working in public, I want to look as professional as possible. Which means no boxy chef's clothes. I like these pants because they're cut for my curves. I do recommend ordering a size up, however.
7) When this 6-piece cheese knife set arrived, I actually took a picture of it and threw it on Instagram with the caption "This makes me happy!" And they do! I think they're so lovely. Plus, they're a great little gift for your favorite cheese head! Aren't they pretty?
8) I have a round pizza stone that I've used for over a decade. It's great for one large pizza. But when I make pizza, I do it Italian-style and make me and T. Rex our own personal pizzas. If they're small enough, I can get both on the stone but more often than not, one hangs over the edge and reaches that level of char that is no longer tasty. With this larger rectangular stone, both pizzas have enough room to hang out until they're delicious!
9) A few years ago, my friend and I got a Groupon for 10 tastes of whiskey at well, a whiskey-tasting event. When we arrived, we were actually given an irresponsible 15 tastes. After sipping too many whiskeys/whiskys that tasted like "old leather" (ugh), "peat" (aka "rotten eggs") or what can only be described as "herbal-flavored urine", I announced quite loudly that "Whiskey is not for me!"
But then, T. Rex bought some good stuff. And then I tasted the good stuff. And then I decided, I do like whisk-y after all. In my newly appreciative state, I also decided that we should be drinking whisky out of the proper whisky glasses. I give you these:
And that's it! All 9 of my favorite foodie things...besides food, of course!
Whatever holidays you celebrate, may they be filled with love and lots of delicious food!
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