Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's Summertime and the Catalogs Are Caroling Their Wares: A little fun


hey WS, santa needs a vacation, too

The mailbox is beginning to overflow with holiday catalogs even while the temperature is a toasty 89 degrees outside.   While we are still eating freshly picked corn on the cob, summer berries, and enjoying perfectly vine-ripened tomatoes,  a faint fa la la la la  is dressing the covers of most incoming catalogs.
Perhaps the holiday catalogs are arriving earlier with hope that we will be fooled into thinking that gift shopping days are running out.  I've been peeking, and some of the most famous and once upon a time, sane cookware sellers have lost their ever loving collective minds.

It was always a treat for those who love cooking to see what new gadgets were emerging or what new pans might be available.  But I’m afraid that this year, we are seeing an entirely new beast.  This is the year of “say what the hell is that?” and holy craptastic.  And why would anyone want that thing in their kitchen taking up valuable real estate?
For the sale price of $99 you can own your very own monogrammed cutting board.  One of those giant wooden boards with a well around the edge to catch the meat juices now comes with your very own initial carved in the center of the board.  But does it come with a little brush to clean into the deep crevice of letter W?  Or perhaps Uncle Ernie is carving and he could give a rat’s ass about your hoity toity monogrammed cutting board and makes that fancy letter C turn into a somewhat awkward letter E?  So much for the sharp edge on that knife, by the way.  Monogrammed cutting board, Chuck?  Seriously.
The All Clad Deluxe slow cooker comes with an insert that is stove-top ready.  All that deluxe-quality for $300.  Rumor has it that they finally upgraded the stove-top deluxe insert so that it quit peeling.  Let’s have a little insert with our stew, shall we?  And here’s the part where it wins the stupid award; you can't brown anything in something with sides that tall.  If you drop stewing meat in the bottom, it will steam, not brown on the stove-top.  They sell the same slow cooker with a ceramic insert that can't go on the stove-top but it can go in the dishwasher. So for $100 less, buy the ceramic insert slow cooker, and brown the meat in a fry pan.  The ceramic insert may develop little hairline cracks (they say that was fixed, too) but at least it won’t peel.
How about a Staub cast-iron pot?  Used to be that in order to buy those you’d have to sell your firstborn, or take out another mortgage.  Seriously though, unless you have spent some time at the gym, or like to work out, Staub is way heavier than Le Creuset and twice the price.  They advertise that it is dishwasher safe, but guess what?  Hand wash for a longer life will be the saleperson's mantra or I am willing to give you my first born. 

 A couple of cookware stores began carrying the Technivorm Moccamaster coffeemaker.  If you can call it that.  It is more like a space age modern muse for the kitchen counter.  Technivorm drips very hot coffee into a carafe about 3 inches lower than the bottom of the cone drip and you could stand there and watch the steam vapors escape and freeze on their way into the carafe, dropping the coffee temperature by a fair amount.   I’m stupid enough to own one.  I’ve had it for a year now and every time I make coffee I shake my head in wonder at what possessed me to part with that much money for this machine aside from the modern art sculpture look on my counter.  They came up with a fix and mailed me a part.  It is a cover for the carafe that allows for the drip to drop, so to speak, but keeps most of the heat contained.  A fine fix, but not a remarkable remedy.  Still drinking tepid coffee.  You could own one of these useless, but artsy machines for the mere pittance of $300.  My French press thought it was destined for the useless appliance closet after I toted home the Technivorm, but it has yet to make the move to live next to the nonstick egg poacher insert. Technivorm might arrive there first.
And last, and especially least, we could not leave out the smoking gun.  Yes, it is called the Smoking Gun.  It is a gadget that spews some magical smoky flavor into your food through the attached tube.  Just don’t point it at anyone and certainly don’t answer the door with the smoking gun in your hand – no need to create a misunderstanding with the UPS guy.  It runs on batteries and if you  forget to smoke it up while cooking you can add it later.  The catalog says you can, so it must be true.  At only $99 with an additional $25 wood chip assortment to complete the package, I think this might be the perfect mother-in-law gift for this holiday season.  Imagine when you tell people that you bought your mother-in-law a smoking gun for the holidays – an instant conversation stopper if ever there was one.
Now, if they'd only start carrying the All Clad stainless 14 inch fry pan, I might actually buy something.  But until then, I'm eyeing that Miele rotary iron for just $2000.  Think of all the money I'd save ironing my own tableclothes, if only I had any.  

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