From ideas

Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for the Cook (and foodie) in Your Life | 2015 Edition

If you are shopping for a foodie this Christmas (or even if you are not) here is my broad guide to great Christmas gifts for the kitchen. It’s a series of things that I love that make life in the kitchen better from accessories to appliances and of course some cookbooks.  If you have any comments on things that I have listed or have things that I have missed, leave them in the comments.

Wine Aerator

Adding air and slowing down the pour of your wine enhances flavour and bouquet. This unique aerator by slows the flow and gently adds oxygen into the wine by funnelling it through a series of channels inside.

Wine Aerator

Wondering if a wine aerator is worth the money and hassle? It depends on the kind of wines that you drink.

Red wines intended to have earthy flavors or age for years in a cellar (and often cost more than $10 or $15) can get to their optimal flavor faster with aeration. Inexpensive and fruity red wines are often fruitiest and most enjoyable directly from the bottle and either don’t improve or taste worse with aeration. White wines (especially fruity white wines) generally don’t improve with aeration.

Wonderbag Non-Electric Portable Slow Cooker with Recipe Cookbook

Wonderbag Non-Electric Portable Slow Cooker with Recipe Cookbook

Wonderbag is a simple but revolutionary non-electric, portable slow cooker. Wonderbag’s clever insulation allows food that has been brought to the boil to continue slow cooking or warm while in the bag. No plugs. No Fuss. No electricity required, so it’s worry-free.

To slow cook, simply bring food to a boil on a stove, let simmer (5 minutes for rice and grains, 15 minutes for root vegetables, meat or presoaked beans), then put the pot with lid into your Wonderbag, close tightly, and slow cook to perfection up to 12 hours. Because it is not on direct heat, it will never overcook or burn. Wonderbag is perfect for bringing delicious home cooked meals to potlucks, dinner parties, tailgating, or camping.

Soapstone Whisky Chilling Stones

Soapstone Whisky Chilling Stones
Don’t let melting ice water down your drinks. Instead use cold frozen soapstones to keep your whiskey cold and preserve it’s rich taste.  Important if you plan to Drink Whiskey like a Sir.

Silicon Pastry Mat

Silicone’s is both flexible and things won’t stick to it. It’s ideal for rolling pastry and cookies. It not only makes things easier on you but it means you can use less flour, resulting in a more delicate and tender product which means everyone wins.

Silicon Pastry Mat

CucinaPro Pasta Fresh machine

Nothing beats a plate of truly fresh pasta. And now it’s easy to roll out your own at home. Whether the craving is for spaghetti or fettuccine, this sturdy machine handles the job with efficiency and style. CuninaPro pasta maker looks great on the counter and is easy to use–there’s nothing to plug in as this is the tried-and-true hand-crank variety.

CucinaPro Pasta Fresh machine
The easy-lock adjustable dough-dialer rolls thick or thin pasta, and it comes with spaghetti and fettuccine cutters. Cutters for tagliatelle, ravioli and angel hair pasta are available separately

Aeropress Coffee Press

Aerobie Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

It makes one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. This innovative uses the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing to produce coffee and espresso that has rich flavour with lower acidity and without bitterness. It makes 1 to 4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs), features a micro filtered for grit free coffee, and takes just 1 minute to make coffee (actual press time takes only 20 seconds).

Here is how it works

The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky to live close to Christie’s Mayfair Bakery and The Night Oven, the two best bakeries in Saskatoon. I also want to bake better bread myself. That is why I love The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Legendary baker Rose Levy Beranbaum is back with her most extensive “bible” yet. With all-new recipes for the best cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, candies, pastries, breads, and more, this magnum opus draws from Rose’s passion and expertise in every category of baking.

As is to be expected from the woman who’s been called “the most meticulous cook who ever lived,” each sumptuous recipe is truly foolproof—with detail-oriented instructions that eliminate guesswork, “plan-aheads,” ingenious tips, and highlights for success. From simple everyday crowd-pleasers (Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins, Gingersnaps, Gooseberry Crisp) to show-stopping stunners (Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart, Mango Bango Cheesecake, White Christmas Peppermint Cake) to bakery-style pastries developed for the home kitchen (the famous French Kouign Amann), every recipe proves that delicious perfection is within reach for any baker.

Belgium Waffle Iron

Enjoy delicious fluffy Belgian waffles with the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker. Made with easy to clean non-stick grids to bake the perfect waffle with deep pockets to hold butter and syrup. The indicator lights let you know just when to add the batter and the removable tray and grids make for easy clean-up.

Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker

Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
For the first time, trusted and beloved cookbook author Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, answers the number one question she receives from cooks: Can I make it ahead?

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in front of the stove at your own party, scrambling to get everything to the table at just the right moment, Ina is here to let you in on her secrets! Thanks to twenty years of running a specialty food store and fifteen years writing cookbooks, she has learned exactly which dishes you can prep, assemble, or cook ahead of time. Whether you’re hosting a party or simply making dinner on a hectic weeknight, Ina gives you lots of amazing recipes that taste just as good—or even better!—when they’re made in advance.

In Make It Ahead, each recipe includes clear instructions for what you can do ahead of time, and how far in advance, so you can cook with confidence and eliminate last-minute surprises. Make a pitcher of Summer Rosé Sangria filled with red berries, let it chill overnight for the flavors to develop, and you have a delicious drink to offer your friends the minute they arrive. Simmer a pot of Wild Mushroom & Farro Soup, enjoy a bowl for lunch, and freeze the rest for a chilly evening. You can prep the kale, Brussels sprouts, and lemon vinaigrette for Winter Slaw ahead of time and simply toss them together before serving. Assemble French Chicken Pot Pies filled with artichokes and fresh tarragon a day in advance and then pop them in the oven half an hour before dinner. And for dessert, everyone needs the recipe for Ina’s Decadent (gluten-free!) Chocolate Cake topped with Make-Ahead Whipped Cream. Ina also includes recipes for the biggest cooking day of the year—Thanksgiving! Her Ultimate Make-Ahead Roast Turkey and Gravy with Onions & Sage may just change your life.

With beautiful photographs and hundreds of invaluable make-ahead tips, this is your new go-to guide for preparing meals that are stress-free yet filled with those fabulously satisfying flavors that you have come to expect from the Barefoot Contessa.

Oxo Kitchen Scale
A scale is really necessary if you’re going to do serious cooking because wherever possible, you should measure your ingredients by weight, not by volume.
Oxo Kitchen Scale
A given mass of flour can vary a lot in volume, depending on things like humidity, temperature, and how long it’s been sitting. A weight indicator shows the capacity left on the Scale before maximum capacity is reached. Press the zero button to offset the weight of a container or to set the weight back to zero to add additional ingredients. The display features large, easy-to-read numbers which measure in 1/8-ounce and 1-gram increments and the platform can be removed for cleaning. The Scale has a 5-pound capacity and two AAA batteries are included.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

Yotam Ottolenghi”s owns four eponymous restaurants–each a patisserie, deli, restaurant, and bakery rolled into one– that are among London”s most popular culinary destinations. Now readers can recreate Ottolenghi”s famous dishes at home.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Named on of Amazon’s books of the year, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook features 140 recipes inspired by the diverse culinary traditions of the Mediterranean—recipes like Harissa-Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad and Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Lime Yogurt. The recipes reflect the authors” upbringings in Jerusalem yet also incorporate culinary traditions from California, Italy and North Africa. The recipes feature numerous fish and meat dishes, as well as Ottolenghi”s famed cakes and breads. With Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, readers are invited into a world of inventive flavors and fresh, vibrant cooking.

Cusinart Immersion Blender

Don’t buy a cheap one–stick with Braun, Cuisinart, or KitchenAid. They aren’t cutting edge but if you don’t have one, you don’t know what you are missing. I use mine for my making Caesar Salad Dressing, mixing up packets of mix and pureeing soups


Cusinart Immersion Blender

With a stylish design and durable stainless steel carafe, this 8-cup coffeemaker is perfect for home, office or practically anywhere you want hot, fresh coffee at the touch of a button. All this, plus an easy-clean control panel and dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless cleanup. The advantage of the carafe is that you won’t be stuck with hot burnt coffee in case you don’t get it off the maker in time. The coffee will be as hot and fresh later as it is right now.
Black and Decker Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker

SuperStone / 11" La Cloche Dome Baker
The classic Superstone line of natural unglazed bakeware that produces spectacular results in your kitchen! This Superstone La Cloche dome baker allows air to circulate around the baker for uniform browning while the unglazed lid helps regulate moisture to create the crackly crust and light crumb of delectable breads baked in professional brick-lined ovens. Base of dome measures 11″ in diameter and 2″ high and measures 8″ high with the lid on.
The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
With more than half a million copies of their books in print, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François have proven that people want to bake their own bread, so long as they can do it easily and quickly. Based on fan feedback, Jeff and Zoë have completely revamped their first, most popular, and now-classic book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Responding to their thousands of ardent fans, Jeff and Zoë returned to their test kitchens to whip up more delicious baking recipes. They’ve also included a gluten-free chapter, forty all-new gorgeous color photos, and one hundred informative black-and-white how-to photos. They’ve made the “Tips and Techniques” and “Ingredients” chapters bigger and better than ever before, and included readers’ Frequently Asked Questions.

This revised edition also includes more than thirty brand-new recipes for Beer-Cheese Bread, Crock-Pot Bread, Panini, Pretzel Buns, Apple-Stuffed French Toast, and many more. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread to fill a kitchen with warmth, eager appetites, and endless praise. Now, using Jeff and Zoë’s innovative technique, you can create bread that rivals those of the finest bakers in the world in just five minutes of active preparation time.

Alcohol Dispenser for Vodka, Whiskey, etc

For centuries, whiskies have been aged in wooden kegs. The charring on the inside of the keg helps to filter the beverage from impurities while also giving whiskey its unique, brown color.

To celebrate the advent of the slow, smoothing, and character building process of aging liquors, here is a handsome glass keg decanter complete with a wooden resting cradle.
Alcohol Dispenser for Vodka, Whiskey, etc

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill

If you are a griller who loves to cook on charcoal, you will want to check out this cast iron hibachi grill.
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Sportsman's Charcoal Grill

  • Measures 19 by 10-1/4 by 8-1/4-inch; limited lifetime warranty.
  • 2 Adjustable heights temper cooking speed; wash by hand
  • Draft door regulates heat; coals accessible behind flip-down door
  • Cooking grate measures 17-1/4 by 9-inch; seasoned and ready to use
  • Rugged, charcoal, hibachi-style grill made of durable cast iron

Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California

Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California

Gjelina is Los Angeles’s most talked-about restaurant, lauded by critics from London to New York to San Francisco and beloved by stars, locals, and out-of-towners alike for its seductive simplicity and eclectic Cal-Med menu from talented chef Travis Lett. This standout cookbook features 125 of the rustic and utterly delicious salads, toasts, pizzas, vegetable and grain dishes, pastas, fish and meat mains, and desserts that have had fans clamoring for a table since the restaurant burst onto the scene. More than 150 color photographs from acclaimed photographer Michael Graydon and stylist Nikole Herriott, plus a tactile, artisanal package, evoke the vibe of Venice Beach and the Gjelina (the G’s silent) aesthetic, and showcase the beautiful plated food of Lett’s ingredient-based, vegetable-centric cooking. This is the cookbook for the way we want to cook and eat now.

Bodum Tea Press

A lovely way to brew tea to your exact preference, the Bodum Shin Cha tea press combines elegant shaping with crafty functionality. The spherical glass pot features a stainless-steel plunge infuser inside and a stainless-steel lid. Fill the infuser with loose leaf or tea bags, add hot water, wait the desired amount of steeping time, then plunge. The plunger pushes the tea below the infuser holes, so brewing stops on a dime and tea does not over steep to the point of bitterness. To clean up, the unit goes safely in the dishwasher. With its glass spout, body, and handle, the Shin Cha showcases tea colors beautifully but does require somewhat careful handling.

Bodium Tea Press

Burr coffee grinder

For grinding larger quantities of coffee beans for a coffee-drinking crowd, Capresso’s commercial-grade Infinity grinder handles 8-1/2 ounces of beans at a time. Sixteen different settings–four each in the four categories of extra fine, fine, regular, and coarse–let you adjust the grind to the specific blend of coffee and method of brewing. The finest setting is ideal for preparing Turkish coffee, which is a rare feature to find in a grinder.
Burr coffee grinder
A built-in timer sets the grind for anywhere between 5 and 60 seconds so you can walk away without having to constantly press a button to continue the grinding process. The Infinity has an advanced conical burr design made of steel that is usually only found on commercial grinders. This burr design slows down the gears and reduces the amount of friction and heat to preserve coffee’s flavour and aroma. The coffee container holds up to 4 ounces of grounds and remains sealed during grinding. For safety, the bean container also needs to be locked into place for the Infinity to operate. For easy cleaning, the bean container and upper burr lift off so you can clean the grinding chamber with the included brush and wipe down the exterior housing.

Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler

Yes you have a George Forman grill but this is so much more than that. The Cuisinart Griddler is actually five appliances in one. A hinged, floating cover and one set of removable and reversible cooking plates turn the Griddler into a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, or half grill/half griddle. Dual temperature controls and indicator lights make this product easy to use.

Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler

Kitchenaid Convection Oven

It’s a great replacement for the stove in the summer and a supplement to the oven when you are making a big meal or for parties. I am surprised how much cooking and baking I can do with it.
Kitchenaid Convection Oven

Kitchenaid Stand Mixer
Kitchenaid Stand Mixer
The Professional 600 TM has a powerful motor that is crafted for commercial-style performance, the direct drive, all-steel gear transmission delivers unyielding power for professional results. The mixer can effectively mix up to 14 cups of all-purpose flour per recipe and produce up to 8 pounds of mashed potatoes. The Soft Start mixing feature helps minimize ingredient splatter and flour puff with gentle acceleration to selected speed after start-up. Electronic Speed Sensor monitors operation to maintain precise mixer speed. Commercial-style motor protection automatically shuts off the mixer when overload is sensed to protect the motor. Durable all-steel gears provide reliable service. The mixer includes a 6-quart-capacity stainless-steel mixing bowl with a contoured handle, as well as a professional wire whip, a burnished flat beater, a spiral dough hook, and a one piece pouring shield. Its multipurpose attachment hub with a hinged hub cover flips open to allow for easy installation of attachments. The Professional 600 Series bowl-lift design raises the bowl into the mixing position, and its solid, truly seamless one-piece motor head design is easy to clean and comes in a variety of fashionable colors.

J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set
Here are the highlights
  • Full tang extends the length of the knife, adding balance and strength
  • Triple-riveted, ergonomic handle ensures comfort and control
  • Satin-finish, stainless steel blade provides precise cutting, peeling and slicing
  • 18 Pieces Forged Premio Knife Block. Set Includes 3 inches paring knife, 5 inches serrated utility knife, 6 inches utility knife, 7 inches santoku hollow edge, 8 inches chef’s knife, 9 inches sharpening steel, 8 inches bread knife, 5 inches boning knife, kitchen shears.Stamped Steak Knives (8 Pieces) Hardwood Block
If you are looking for a set of knives a step up in quality, check out the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 19-Piece Knife Set with Block for $330. If you want to go nuts on a knife set, you will want to look at the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro-S 18-Piece Knife Set with Block
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro-S 18-Piece Knife Set with Block
The J.A. Henckels Twin Professional S (or Pro S) knife series features trustworthy quality and classic three-rivet styling–it’s a line of knives admired by both professional chefs and home cooks of all skill levels. The Twin Pro S line contains knives for all tasks, including the following open stock knife types: parer, bread, peeling, sandwich, utility, carving, steak, chef’s, Granton edge slicer, santoku, and others. Twin Pro S knives are also available in a range of block sets and gift sets, to be sure that your cutlery needs are covered.
Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens
Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens is the story of people and the food they prepared. With more than 50 photos, it is a window into life as it was then. If you want to know what life was really like in early Saskatchewan, come to the table with us. It is by local Saskatoon writer, columnist, and cook Amy Jo Ehman.

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Mennonite Girls Can Cook is a blog about recipes, hospitality, relationships, encouragement and helping the hungry-and now it’s a book, too! Like the blog, Mennonite Girls Can Cook-the book-is more than just recipes. It is about hospitality, versus entertaining; about blessing, versus impressing.

No matter which way you look at it, wonderful things happen when people are given the opportunity to gather around the table-a chance to nurture and build relationships, fellowship and encourage one another and create a place of refuge for those who have had a stressful day.

Swissmar Borner V Power Mandoline

Swissmar Börner V Power mandoline

Add creativity and style to your meal with the Swissmar Börner V Power mandoline. It includes three inserts for ten different cuts: a 7mm blade, 3-1/2mm blade, and a thick/thin insert for meat, allowing the V Power to julienne, shred, cube, and create French fries. A patented push-button adjustment allows you to change the size or thickness of the cut without removing the insert. The blades are made from surgical-grade stainless steel and they cut from both angles. The plane has a safety position covering the V-blade when not in use. The frame is made from tough ABS plastic with slip-resistant rubber feet. An ambidextrous food safety holder requires little pressure and holds the food in place with prongs to guard your hands from the blades. The set also includes an insert holder that doubles as a drying rack.

Brother Easy Handheld Label Maker

Brother Easy Handheld Label Maker

Why does a cook need a labeller?  Let me count the things I need to label in my own kitchen.  Spice jars, left overs, kids lunches.  The list goes on.

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

Simply cooking Grandma’s famous pasta sauce can bring you back to Sunday afternoons spent in an aromatic kitchen.  Beautifully crafted from a sturdy slab of reclaimed timber that has been salvaged from old European buildings, this bold design is highlighted by industrial galvanized metal detail. A natural beeswax and mineral oil finish brings rich appeal the unique wood grain, while the ample shelf allows you to prop up cookbooks, iPads, or Grandma’s handwritten recipe. Made in Hungary.

Christmas Gift Guides and Gift IdeasIf you are looking for more or past Christmas Gift Guides, check out my husbands excellent series of Christmas gift and idea guides that he posts each year on his website. If you think I am missing something, let me know in the comments below.



The root cause of narcissism (and aggression towards women)

Gabor Mate and the causes of narcissism in people (like Jian Ghomeshi)

There is a time in life, in infancy, when we are all narcissists. In this early developmental phase we implicitly believe the world revolves around us, and properly so: we have but to feel a need, and the world moves to meet it. The people who remain stuck in narcissism, whether everyday narcissism expressed as ordinary self-centredness or the extreme forms we label as pathological, are the ones who never fully developed past that early stage. We graduate from a developmental phase only if our needs at that stage were fully satisfied. And in our society, most children do not get their needs met.

The growth of a healthy self depends on emotionally rich, attuned interactions with parents who are emotionally present and available. Stressed, depressed or anxious parents, or those who were themselves traumatized, may be incapable of providing their children with such interactions. In our increasingly alienated, isolating, and hyper-stressed culture, many children grow up under conditions characterized by what the seminal psychologist and researcher Alan Schore has called “proximal separation”: the parents are physically there but often emotionally absent. In this context healthy human development is impaired. Thus narcissism pervades our culture.

I am a big fan of Mate, he has helped me understand a lot of the issues I have had as an adult but I always find him talking about narcissism fascinating.

If you looked up “proximal separation” in a dictionary, it would show my home as a kid.  My parents were there but were always emotionally absent.  Since they were emotionally absent, they never realized that was the case.  I’m the same way as a parent.  Jordon is the one that has seen it and helps me relate to the kids.  The difference is that Jordon sees it and can call me on it.

The rage against women is rooted in what the late feminist scholar Dorothy Dinnerstein identified as the “female monopoly of early child care,” where an isolated woman is seen by the child as the sole source of nourishment, physical soothing, and emotional support. In a mobile and economically unstable society, it falls upon an individual female to become the entire world for the child. The male child, finding his needs frustrated, develops rage. As the brilliant Canadian psychologist Gordon Neufeld points out, “frustration is the engine of aggression.”Rage against the mother later becomes generalized into rage against women. In pathological cases, that hostility is acted out precisely in moments when intimacy is sought, such as sex, because it was in early moments of vulnerable intimacy that the narcissistic wound was sustained. The rage is an implicit memory of intense proximal separation. Many boys also witness and absorb the hostility of their overworked and emotionally alienated fathers and, unconsciously, blame their mothers for not having protected them.

Once I told my parents that I have been a victim of sexual violence growing up, they didn’t even acknowledge it.  Years later I learned that it was this, “proximal separation”, they are capable of being physically there but never emotionally.   If I broke my arm, they could be there but as I battled depression or figured out what happened as a kid, they could not.