Q&A: Let’s talk about kitchen-related gifts

This is the time of year when I get a lot of requests for recommendations on smart purchases of quality kitchen items. Most people are looking for gifts and some just want to take advantage of Black Friday and other holiday sales, but everyone has questions about knives, pot sets, gadgets and the like.

Below I link to a few gift guides I put together last year that still hold plenty of weight now at the end of 2011.  Hopefully these lists will inspire you to stock your kitchen (or someone else’s if you are gifting) with a few key quality items that will prove themselves to be invaluable for cooking and will last a long, long time.

Then, I’ll be hanging out in the comments today to take your questions on kitchen items, should you have any. Opinions expressed are entirely my own of course, but I am drawing on my experience from culinary school, professional kitchen employment, and daily life cooking in my own kitchen.

So read on, make a wish list for yourself, or bookmark a gift item for that budding chef on your Christmas list.

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A Thanksgiving Dessert Twist: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie

Written by Shaina of Food for my Family.

Sheets covered the couches to protect them from the greasy little hands that would scoot away from the table and be wiping their hands on them faster than you could spread butter on your roll. The kitchen was always bustling, but it was full with only one body, that of my grandmother.

She would hurriedly but with great precision move pots and pans from stove top and oven to serving dishes, all lined up with serving utensils and ready to be whisked away as if by angels out to the dinner table.

Still, if you stood silently and perhaps offered to take a dish to the table for her, you could observe the magic from the corner of the room. If you happened to do so, you’d notice first that the encore to the meal was nowhere to be found.

A plate with carved turkey, homemade gravy in a decorative boat, the dressing in its bowl, a gelatin mold, cranberry sauce, vegetables and baskets upon baskets of rolls to be slathered in bright yellow butter, but the room was void of any sweet eats.
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Eat Well, Spend Less: One Turkey, Four Meals

Perhaps you head to your parents’ or the in-laws’ for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, where someone else cooks and carves the turkey. Maybe you’d also like to cook a whole turkey at home (and have a few leftovers to play with), but it’s way too much meat for your little family.

Here’s my proposed solution: go ahead and purchase a fresh turkey and then make four or five recipes with it.  When properly sourced from a reliable butcher (and not shot up with strange chemicals and salty brine) turkey is a delicious, lean meat, and should definitely be taken advantage of in its season.

We’re talking turkey and holiday meals for our Eat Well, Spend Less series this month and my method for serving one turkey for four (or more) meals is one way to get the most bang for your buck. Fresh turkey isn’t cheap, but by following two key rules to savvy shopping: buying in season and buying bulk (in this case, a whole bird), as well as using every scrap of your purchase, you’ve got yourself a frugal way to eat this holiday season.

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Weekend Links

Have a great weekend!

Baked Pull-Apart Pumpkin French Toast (Overnight Recipe)

It’s a little difficult to focus on writing this post because all I want to do is head to the kitchen and mix up another batch of French toast for the morning.

I already know I have pumpkin puree in the refrigerator, and Danny sheepishly arrived home from work with two loaves of whole wheat miche under his arm “…in case you wanted to make more of that baked French toast.”

It’s official: we’re completely smitten with this pull-apart Pumpkin French Toast. It bakes up crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, serves up in slices just like pan-fried French Toast, and is marvelous with a homemade Molasses-Cinnamon Syrup.  You have to try it this weekend.

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