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My Wondrous Christmas Haul

I know, based on my keen observance of TV ads during the joyous yuletide season, that many women really want jewelry. Mostly they seem to want something called a “journey” necklace with a sort of squiggle of diamonds in graduated carat weights. I am not against jewelry or diamonds (I wear a platinum and diamond engagement ring of fairly impressive carat wattage) but when I saw the ads, and specifically the prices, my immediate thought was that I could buy (pick one) a pound of saffron and a whole truffle, a Le Creuset Dutch Oven and a complete set of new cookware, dinner at Babbo, a shopping spree at Zingerman’s  or ten fantastic cookbooks for that kind of money. I could fly to New York and take a  class at the CIA. I could have a new refrigerator or a range with a warming drawer and a fifth burner. And I’d rather.

I did not receive a diamond necklace because my husband, who is handsome, funny and exceptionally observant, actually bought me what I wanted. Not everything I wanted, but quite a lot of it. Based on a little game called “I’ll make a list and you pick what you’d like to buy,” he managed to completely surprise and delight me with nary a jewel in sight. Here, in shameless, vulgar and materialistic detail is what I got for Christmas:

  1. Spices, etc.” Harissa Paste, Hot Smoked Paprika, Galangal, Garam Masala, Sweet Smoked Paprika, Cardamom and Saffron (!)
  2. Gadgets: A beautiful mortar & pestle for spices, one of those metal-strainer-on-a-stick things that are so useful for turning and/or fishing out things one is frying and a Mario Batali 5 piece measuring prep bowl set so crisp and white anhd useful it makes me want to weep with joy.
  3. Books: Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch, The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman, The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, and The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone.
  4. A $60.00 Linens N Things gift certificate which will get me one substantial item or let me gadget shop to excess.

Additionally, we received a heart meltingly generous gift of funding from Rob’s mom which will allow us to go to Cleveland and eat at Michael Symon’s restaurant “Lola,” which I have been dying to do. Its not far, he has approximately 400 free nights in hotels saved up, and we can also check out The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Symphony, if we play our cards right. Oh, and visit Aunt Dorothy. Its probably unspeakably geeky, but I have this fantasy about asking Symon to sign my copy of Soul of a Chef if he’s actually in the restaurant when we are there,  since its (partly) about him….

I hope that all of you who celebrate Christmas had a wonderful day with people that you love. I hope that all of you who don’t had a fabulous day off.  I hope that if this is, for whatever reason, a hard Christmas for you, that there were many folks (and animals) reminding you that you are wonderful and beloved.  I hope that no matter what your religious beliefs, you were able to see in today’s celebrations some reason to have hope and to try to be a positive force in the world.

I hope too, that if you wanted a necklace, you got one. As for me, I am practically in orbit deciding which book I’ll start first tomorrow after sleeping until 9:00, and what I’ll cook first with my new swag…..


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

11 responses »

  1. A nice read on Christmas day. Thank you.

    All I wanted for Christmas was to see Melanie inducted into the Rock hall . This is a “yet to be seen” gift. I still have hope.
    God bless you.
    Spokane WA

  2. I’m glad you had a great Christmas, Annie. I, too, received a few kitchen items, and they are my favorite gifts. Merry Season — eleven more days of celebration!

  3. Barbara, Merry Christmas to you! My son’s birthday is on Epiphany/Twelfth Night (which I always thought was kind of great) so we really do have a “Season” here. I hope your whole family is enjoying it, too.

  4. great post. lovely christmas! but wow. lola’s… so so nice. how far are you from cleveland/ruhlman land?

  5. claudia, thanks! We are about 200 miles away from Cleveland. It sounds far, I guess, but I went to college near Cleveland and used to zip back and forth pretty fast so it doesn’t seem that bad. The idea of Lola’s and music (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) is one that makes me ecstatic. The only thing that could make it better would be if I got to eat dinner with Michael Symon at Lola’s and then hang out with, say, Joni Mitchell and Chrissie Hynde at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…I’d make it a foursome with Janis Joplin, but for obvious reasons she’s unavailable.

  6. Hey Annie,

    Glad to hear you had a good Christmas and WHAT a haul! I am totally envious of the spices. My honey also uses a list (written by me, of course), so I also got a few choice items. The dinner at Lola’s sounds fabulous and hope you do meet Symon.

  7. Annie ~ Happy Holiday wishes! It sounds like you had a wonderful day. junemoon

  8. junemoon, thanks! I am not sure whether or not you are a Christmas person (I am only half a Christmas person) but whether it’s Christmas, Winter Solstice or just a break from the busy-ness of life, I hope its been and will be good for you. Cook something good for your family!!

  9. Ricki, he is s good, smart guy, Mr. Annie. 🙂 I am going to get to troll recipes for the coming week that use my new spices; maybe I can even work in the mortar and pestle if I get crazy! I hope you are having a peaceful break from school, and maintaining your yummy v. healthy balance as much as you can. Its such hard work…..

  10. You said it, sister! Definitely hard work. Peaceful break=yes; yummy vs. healthy=not so much. But I can live with it.

    My sister uses a mortar and pestle exclusively (I just don’t have the patience), and she loves it–says it really makes a difference in the final taste.

    A whole week playing in the kitchen; sounds ideal to me. Have fun with your recipes. Looking forward to reading about the results.

  11. ricki, I am personally not sure that the effort associated with being “good” during the holidays is worth it. (I am NEVER going to use that word in that context again. Its damaging my psychically even as I write). I don’t know that I can commit to using only the mortar & pestle, but I am doing some Indian cooking this week and planning to use it to make garlic paste and ginger paste – seems easier than cleaning the food processor after making tiny batches of stuff.


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