WELL, it is certainly winter in Chicago. There's snow on the ground for everyone to trudge through, ice on the back stairs for me to slip on (thankfully, I have not yet), and the temperature yesterday barely reached double digits. A funny copywriter friend at work was watching the snow tossed around by the wind on Wednesday and wondered aloud who could have possibly decided to build a big city in a place with such severe weather. We decided that the original settlers of Chicago must have been such skilled architects that they began building in the beautiful summer months and were so far along by the time winter hit that they just couldn't turn back. Clearly, we are all scholars of Chicago history. :)
I'm in full Christmas mode, braving the weather to go shopping and stalking my regular sites for online deals. So far, my shopping is going pretty much the same way it always does - I find all kinds of things I would love for myself, even more that I would love for Manda, and am at a loss about what to get nearly everyone else. Thankfully, I have still managed to make a dent in my list and have plans to go shopping with Dan tomorrow to tackle more of it.
As I'm continuing to expand my personal Christmas list, I'm realizing more and more how drawn I am this year to things for my time in the kitchen. Although I haven't had as many opportunities lately to cook at home and experiment with recipes, when I do have the chance I still enjoy every minute of it and love the satisfaction of cooking something that tastes wonderful in the end.
Here's more kitchen fun I'm craving...
I think over everything else I've posted about, this little jar of goodness is without a doubt number one on my list. Thanks to some foodie friends at work and regular tastings at The Chopping Block right by work, I have fallen in love with truffle salt. It's pricey, but a teeny little pinch of this stuff over plain popcorn, mixed in salsa, or used to season meat seriously makes a delicious difference that instantly transforms me into feeling like I'm eating something extravagant from a fancy restaurant.
Thanks to the lack of in-a-row meals at home, when I buy fresh herbs a good portion of them often wilt and brown before I have the chance to use them up. While I'm not complaining about the 33 cents a bunch price of cilantro, green onion and the like, I do often wonder how anyone actually manages to use a whole bunch up before it goes bad. So, since I can't just buy 2 little sprigs of cilantro when I want guacamole, a couple of these herb saver pods would be a snazzy addition to my fridge.
This drool-worthy kit which would help produce drool-worthy cupcakes is a little pricey for my liking... but I still can't resist picturing how amazing cupcakes would look in any one of these 400+ (!!!) pretty liners. And don't even get me started on the sprinkles and frosting tools.
Have I ever mentioned my slight obsession with Julie & Julia? Author Julie Powell is such a source of inspiration for me... she had all of the pieces for a seemingly perfect life - cute husband, apartment in NYC, decent job - but she was on a hunt to really find herself... and discovered true happiness through a blog. About cooking. Which gained a huge following that eventually turned into TV and newspaper interviews. And later a book deal. Which quickly led to a movie deal. Are you kidding me? What an absolute dream come true! Besides being a great read and a fun movie, Julie & Julia introduced me to the one and only Julia Child, and while I have not yet tackled any of her recipes (I'll admit it - I'm scared), this Kitchen Wisdom book looks like the perfect way to dip into her mastery a little bit at a time!