HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Three Christmas Ideas for Cooks



My partner Andrew’s family has a rule: No Christmas gifts with plugs or handles. The only way I got a flat screen TV into the house was to say it was from Santa who wasn’t aware of the rule. Santa still doesn’t get it. One of my prime suggestions has a plug. The others both pass the test. One’s fantastic food-related photography from an incredibly talented photographer friend. And the other is a book I couldn’t put down.




My first suggestion lets you take advantage of Big Box stores like Costco. My son, Alex, says there’s a 12 step program for Costco shoppers and I’m probably one step away. And let’s face it, unless you’re running an orphanage, anyone without a lot of mouths to feed is daunted by the supersizes on offer there. They do a great job of cutting chicken down to size in practical packages of breasts, wings and thighs, but get to steaks, chops and, unless it’s organic, hamburger, and you wonder how on earth are you going to store it all.


Enter the Rival Seal A Meal. I got mine as a gift from Andrew’s sister, Lauren, another rule breaker. And what a great gift it is. You simply take human-sized servings and seal them in individual bags.



The Seal A Meal sucks all the air out of the bag and your meat (or anything else you seal) is vacuum-packed and ready for the freezer. In these shots, you can see how well it works on lamb chops and how I was able to cut a brisket of beef down to size. So if you want to shop Big Box but wonder how on earth to use all that food, the Seal A Meal is a godsend, cord and all. You can order one on-line for $49.99. Here’s the link: http://www.sealameal.com/.




My friend Carol Dronsfield is an incredibly talented photographer whose portraits never fail to delight us – especially since she’s followed our god-daughter, Olivia, now 10, from infancy to young girlhood. For Christmas, I was really taken with Carol’s fascinating series of food, nostalgic diners, farmstand signs and local landmark pictures.




These original signed images were created using a vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera. They’re printed on 8 1/2 x 11 Hahnemuhle Fine Art Matte Photo Rag Bright White Paper to create a nostalgic feel. The image size is 5 x 5. At $20.00, they’re an amazing bargain for original art! And I could see a kitchen wall brightened with one, two or more of these very special prints. Go to www.etsy.com/shop/dronzie and order one as a gift…to yourself if you’d like. And if you want to see Carol’s portraiture, (including an entire section of Olivia pictures), go to http://www.caroldronsfieldphotography.com/



Finally there’s the book. I’d never heard of or read David Lebovitz before Andrew gave me a copy of “The Sweet Life in Paris” (Broadway Books 2009). I’ve been missing a lot. He is a wonderful, witty writer who was a pastry chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley CA. and who, after 20 years in San Francisco packed everything he owned into three suitcases and moved into a two room flat near the Bastille. The book contains fifty original recipes for everything from chocolate ‘macarons’ to Tex-Mex carnitas. But “Sweet Life” is far more than a compendium of good recipes. It’s a wonderfully funny take on living in my second favorite city on earth.


The character of the place and the characters in the place are all brought to life from the razor sharp pen of Mr. Lebovitz. If you love Paris, you will love this book. And if you don’t, think of someone who does and give it to them. It’s currently $16.47 at http://www.amazon.com/ or $9.99 for the Kindle version. You can also follow Mr. Lebovitz on his blog http://www.davidlebovitz.com/.  I do.













6 comments:

  1. Borrowed this book from the library, baked the Dulce de Leche Brownies. Yum! Really showed that life in Paris is not a one week vacation multipled by 52.

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  2. Our rule was no handle gifts for Christmas and birthdays but there is nothing written about what is appropriate for a host gift. So, I am in the clear.

    Actually I love handle gifts but they must accompanied with a personal gift.

    Andrew's sister,

    Lauren

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  3. Carolynn, thanks so much for the endorsement. I still want to live there. Lauren, you're right but I still think the rule needs a little bending from time to time. Monte

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  4. glad you liked the book...happy holidays!

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  5. Monte,
    If i buy the ice cream maker you suggested will you assist in one training session so that i can insure that we'll have that great caramel salt flavor again?!? Shhh, a secret for hubbie.

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  6. I would be delighted...where do you want your tutorial? Here or out at the beach?

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