Thursdays during NaBloPoMo have thus far been dedicated to Thanksgiving planning, but that’s sort of redundant at this point. I am pretty tightly wrapped, (and fancy myself a paragon of organization) but even I don’t start planning the next Thanksgiving a week after the last one.
Since I am free to write what I want, I have decided to share with you all my IMMENSE and glorious good fortune yesterday which is entirely due to the generosity of others, and their willingness to indulge me in the belief that I am actually a chef. I’m probably kind of pathetic about it (little boys dressed in chaps, spurs and Howdy Doody hats with toy guns come to mind) but in my rich, inner life I wear orange clogs and chef’s whites and might be asked at any moment to compete on “Iron Chef.” I can hear it now: “from her Midwestern home kitchen where she prepares dinners nightly that are rich and varied but do not involve the use of anything on the Forbidden Food List…Chef Annie!”
Anyway, as a thank you for preparing the Thanksgiving feast, my mother took me to Williams-Sonoma to pick out “a few things.” No, wait: first, because she knows that I can only rarely prepare fish or any seafood on Forest Street, she first took me to lunch at Mitchell’s Fish Market where I had a cup of perfect lobster bisque, an almost breadless crab cake and a huge shrimp from her salad. Then we went to Williams-Sonoma, where she bought me:
- A real 8″ chef’s knife. Wusthof. I have been cooking for years with a decent 4″ knife but a terrible, El Cheap-o chef’s knife that is incredibly dull but too cheap to sharpen. The new knife has a sharp blade, a heft in my hand, and makes me want to conquer pounds of potatoes. I am in love.
- Vanilla beans and vanilla paste, both of which I use regularly but both of which are pretty expensive. I had just run out of both making pies, and was forlornly contemplating a return to the stuff from the grocery store.
- A microplane grater for hard and soft cheeses, and onions. We used it last night to grate practically transparent shards of Gran Padano onto our pasta, effortlessly.
- A hand-held Kyocera mini-mandoline thingie. It slices wafer thin at high speed, is small enough to store easily, and has a hand protector. So far, Sam has had transparent banana slices on his cereal, and I have discovered that I really, really have to use the hand protector.
- A decent set of concentric, round cookie cutters, which I use for everything from doughnuts to poaching eggs (the old set was missing a couple of sizes that were involved first in a ring toss game and then in a tragic lawn mower accident).
Arriving home from this merry festival of seafood and spending, I found a package addressed to me from amazon.com. Inside was a copy of Giadia di Laurentiis’ newest cookbook, Everyday Pasta. This was yet another glossy and beautiful addition to my cookbook collection from my father in law in San Francisco, who buys me books that i covet and drool over but can’t justify buying for myself. As many of you know, in addition to pretending to be a chef, I often pretend to be Italian. Unfortunately, I do not look like Giada even when I’m deep under cover, but at least I can use her recipes.
I am so lucky, and so grateful to be the recipient of such generosity. I am generally thrifty, and can “make do” in ways that would make my raised-in-the-Depression dad proud, but I still love shiny, new things. Is it wierd to love a knife?