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The Last Weekend Before Christmas

December 18, 2015

It’s panic time in America. At least right now we’re panicking over something important like shopping. For the next 72 hours we get to put behind those petty concerns like the changing climate, the militarization of our police force, and our collective desire to trade liberty for security. Those things can wait. Christmas, on the other hand, is going to be here next week.

This is one of those moments that I’m happy my winter solstice holiday is already over. This weekend, I can relax and head over to the Guilderland Public Library on Saturday at 2pm, where Amy Halloran will be slinging her famous pancakes. She’ll be doing this as part of a promotion for her book The New Bread Basket: How the New Crop of Grain Growers, Plant Breeders, Millers, Maltsters, Bakers, Brewers, and Local Food Activists Are Redefining Our Daily Loaf.

I’ve never had her pancakes, but I’ve heard great things.

But having recently gone through a little bit of the present crunch, I’m sympathetic to the plight of the shopper. Amazingly, the FUSSYlittleSTORE is still up and active. I don’t profit from it in any way. It’s really there just as a service to readers.

Speaking of service, there’s something else I’m willing to do for those looking at gifts for the food lover in their lives. It may sound a little obnoxious, but I hope it will prove to be helpful. Let’s call it, “For the Love of God, Put That Back on the Shelf”

#1 Nothing Good Comes from a Keurig

Let’s take hot water, run it through a plastic cup, and have it spit out brown water in any single-serve flavor you might want at that precise moment. It’s a bad machine. It makes bad coffee. It’s bad for the earth. It’s expensive. It’s pretty much every kind of bad wrapped up in a shoddy plastic casing. Buying one is sentencing someone you love to a year or more of mediocre coffee. Sure, the coffee could be worse. It could be sitting in a glass pot on a heating element for hours, cooking in the carafe. If you want to give the gift of convenient coffee, the coffee lover in your life would be far better off with a high-value gift card to McDonald’s than having to endure this mechanical monstrosity.

#2 Gimmicky Corkscrews Are for Children

And why would you buy a child a corkscrew? Well, maybe to open wine bottles for their parents. That would actually be pretty cool, but I bet the kid would be pissed he didn’t get an actual toy. Corkscrews that look like toys aren’t quite the same. Look. Opening a bottle of wine just isn’t that hard. Have you ever seen a classic French-style corkscrew? It’s just a twisted piece of metal shoved into a wood handle. In the right hands, it can open bottles of wine faster than you can count. If you need something that has all kinds of levers and comes in a velveteen pouch that sits in a satin-lined box, you may need to seek medical attention.

#3 There’s Nothing Nice about Nonstick Pans

Here’s the message that a nonstick pan sends to the recipient. “You can’t cook to save your life. Nor do I think you will ever be able to learn how to cook. But since you insist on trying, here’s something that will help to make it less of a disaster.” You can fry an egg in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet and not have it stick. You can scramble eggs in a cast iron skillet and be able to wipe it clean with a paper towel. You can cook meat in a stainless steel skillet, have bits of it stick, and then deglaze that delicious fond with wine, butter, and herbs to make an enchanting pan sauce. In all cases the non-nonstick pans come out pretty darn clean. A nonstick stock pot says, “Your cooking sucks so bad, I think it’s very possible you might burn water.”

Here are a few other tidbits to remember:
– Most blenders are crap
– So are most coffeemakers
– Cheap coffee grinders are only good for spices
– Good espresso machines are more expensive than computers
– Great espresso machines are more expensive than cars
– An expensive version of a cheap tool is decadent, but usually appreciated
– Giving experiences is usually better than giving things
– If you do give things, it’s better if they are consumable
– Consumable gifts are better if they are perishable
– Things that take up less space are better than those that take up more
– Booze is never a bad option (nondrinkers can always re-gift it)

Of course, you could just come out to the library, eat pancakes, and buy multiple copies of Amy’s book for everyone on your list. The more people we get concerned about the state of bread in America, the better.

But we can add that to the list of worries we’ll tackle once the holiday season has finally completed.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2015 11:53 am

    I appreciate my non-stick pan. So good for pan-fried dumplings.

    • December 18, 2015 11:55 am

      Just like they used to do in the old country. You are thrifty at heart. The idea of a seasoned steel pan that will last forever should appeal to you.

  2. December 18, 2015 12:27 pm

    Did the pizza and wings give you indigestion? This reads like a serious case of the crabbyappletons.

  3. ericscheirerstott permalink
    December 18, 2015 12:31 pm

    Julia Child said that every kitchen should have a nonstick pan “perfect for omelettes”. Of course she also said that every kitchen should have instant rice- not just for an emergency (which I would agree with) but to use when you are just going to pour a sauce over it so the rice doesn’t matter. (she might have had a few glasses of wine in her when she came out with THAT bit of advice)

  4. December 20, 2015 12:06 am

    During my brief time in chef school, our batterie de cuisine included a 7 inch Silverstone plan which was never washed and used for omelettes as Albany Jane suggests. No reason not to take advantage of appropriate technology.

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