If you are shopping for a foodie this Christmas (or even if you are not) here is my broad guide to great Christmas gifts for the kitchen. Itâ€™s a series of things that I love that make life in the kitchen better. If you have any comments on things that I have listed or have things that I have missed, leave them in the comments. â€“ Wendy
Inexpensive Christmas Gifts & Stocking Stuffers: Under $25
This uses evaporative cooling to keep butter at room temperature without spoiling. There’s a well for water, and then a butter dish that rests on top of it, and slowly wicks water through the ceramic. The upshot is that as long as you change the water every few days, you can keep butter in the dish for weeks which is awesome considering Saskatchewanâ€™s hot summers.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $16
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $17
Gingerbread was so last year. Ninjabread cookie cutters make any cookie a lot more fun (and stealthily dangerous) to make and eat.
There cookie cutters are sure to be a hit all year round.
- Purchase from Amazon | $10
Silicon Pastry Mat
Silicone’s is both flexible and things won’t stick to it. It’s ideal for rolling pastry and cookies. It not only makes things easier on you but it means you can use less flour, resulting in a more delicate and tender product which means everyone wins.
- Purchase from Amazon | $9
Thoughtful yet Inexpensive Christmas Presents: $25 to $50
Forget the fast food drive-through. With the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker, you can enjoy a hot, homemade breakfast sandwich in under 5 minutes. Simply place the ingredients inside, build the base of your sandwich in the bottom layer, place the egg on the cooking plate and close the lid. Slide the cooking plate out and your sandwich assembles itself. Open the lid and your hot breakfast sandwich is ready to eat. The included recipe book provides a variety of breakfast sandwich options, from the traditional egg, ham and cheese to the unique cheddar, apple, bacon and egg croissant sandwich.
- Purchase from Amazon | $25
Nothing beats a plate of truly fresh pasta. And now it’s easy to roll out your own at home. Whether the craving is for spaghetti or fettuccine, this sturdy machine handles the job with efficiency and style. Made of heavyweight chromed steel, with an attractive wood grip handle, Villaware’s pasta maker looks great on the counter and is easy to use–there’s nothing to plug in as this is the tried-and-true hand-crank variety. The easy-lock adjustable dough-dialer rolls thick or thin pasta, and it comes with spaghetti and fettuccine cutters. Cutters for tagliatelle and angel hair pasta are available separately
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $29
It makes one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. This innovative uses the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing to produce coffee and espresso that has rich flavour with lower acidity and without bitterness. It makes 1 to 4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs), features a micro filtered for grit free coffee, and takes just 1 minute to make coffee (actual press time takes only 20 seconds).
- Purchase from Amazon | $25
Enjoy delicious fluffy Belgian waffles with the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker. Made with easy to clean non-stick grids to bake the perfect waffle with deep pockets to hold butter and syrup. The indicator lights let you know just when to add the batter and the removable tray and grids make for easy clean-up.
- Purchase from Amazon | $35
Oxo Kitchen Scale
A scale is really necessary if you’re going to do serious cooking because wherever possible, you should measure your ingredients by weight, not by volume. A given mass of flour can vary a lot in volume, depending on things like humidity, temperature, and how long it’s been sitting. A weight indicator shows the capacity left on the Scale before maximum capacity is reached. Press the zero button to offset the weight of a container or to set the weight back to zero to add additional ingredients. The display features large, easy-to-read numbers which measure in 1/8-ounce and 1-gram increments and the platform can be removed for cleaning. The Scale has a 5-pound capacity and two AAA batteries are included.
- Purchase from Amazon | $25
Don’t buy a cheap one–stick with Braun, Cuisinart, or KitchenAid. They arenâ€™t cutting edge but if you donâ€™t have one, you donâ€™t know what you are missing. I use mine for my making Caesar Salad Dressing, pureeing soups, and chopped a lot of vegetables.
- Purchase from Amazon | $42
With a stylish design and durable stainless steel carafe, this 8-cup coffeemaker is perfect for home, office or practically anywhere you want hot, fresh coffee at the touch of a button. All this, plus an easy-clean control panel and dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless cleanup. The advantage of the carafe is that you wonâ€™t be stuck with hot burnt coffee in case you donâ€™t get it off the maker in time. The coffee will be as hot and fresh later as it is right now.
Purchase from Amazon | $48
- Use for port, cognac or wine
- As you spin the decanter, its precious contents will also aerate to open up the flavour and allow your wine or spirits’ aromas to develop
- Heat-resistant glass globe decanter features decorative etching of the world map
- Includes glass decanter stopper and glass base
- Purchase at Amazon | $45
Cuisinart Electric Fondue Pot
I have had a couple of traditional fondue pots and they are really a pain to keep at the right temperature. This fondue pot solves all of that with electric temperature controls. Designed for use with oil, broth, chocolate, or cheese, the set combines powerful electric heat with easy temperature control and handsome but tidy construction. The 3-quart stainless-steel bowl is lined with nonstick coating for keeping heated foods from sticking, and the stand, bowl, ring, and temperature probe all assemble and disassemble easily. A combination of finishesâ€”brushed on the bowl and ring, mirror on the stand and handlesâ€”gives the unit a contemporary flair which will complement the great food you are sharing.
- Purchase at Amazon | $48
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill
- Measures 19 by 10-1/4 by 8-1/4-inch; limited lifetime warranty.
- 2 Adjustable heights temper cooking speed; wash by hand
- Draft door regulates heat; coals accessible behind flip-down door
- Cooking grate measures 17-1/4 by 9-inch; seasoned and ready to use
- Rugged, charcoal, hibachi-style grill made of durable cast iron
This rugged, charcoal hibachi-style grill is perfect for picnics, tailgating and car camping or patio. A draft door regulates the heat. Coals are accessible behind a flip down door. Grill has two adjustable heights. Seasoned and ready to use.
- Purchase at Amazon.com | $65
A lovely way to brew tea to your exact preference, the Bodum Shin Cha tea press combines elegant shaping with crafty functionality. The spherical glass pot features a stainless-steel plunge infuser inside and a stainless-steel lid. Fill the infuser with loose leaf or tea bags, add hot water, wait the desired amount of steeping time, then plunge. The plunger pushes the tea below the infuser holes, so brewing stops on a dime and tea does not over steep to the point of bitterness. To clean up, the unit goes safely in the dishwasher. With its glass spout, body, and handle, the Shin Cha showcases tea colors beautifully but does require somewhat careful handling.
- Purchase at Amazon.com | $67
All-Clad One Quart Saucier
Little pans (especially high quality ones) tend to be overlooked as gifts but I use them a lot around the house in making things like gravy, au juice, or if I need a smaller portion of something. I never thought it was that important but now that I have one, I love it.
- Purchase at Amazon.com | $75
For grinding larger quantities of coffee beans for a coffee-drinking crowd, Capresso’s commercial-grade Infinity grinder handles 8-1/2 ounces of beans at a time. Sixteen different settings–four each in the four categories of extra fine, fine, regular, and coarse–let you adjust the grind to the specific blend of coffee and method of brewing. The finest setting is ideal for preparing Turkish coffee, which is a rare feature to find in a grinder. A built-in timer sets the grind for anywhere between 5 and 60 seconds so you can walk away without having to constantly press a button to continue the grinding process. The Infinity has an advanced conical burr design made of steel that is usually only found on commercial grinders. This burr design slows down the gears and reduces the amount of friction and heat to preserve coffee’s flavour and aroma. The coffee container holds up to 4 ounces of grounds and remains sealed during grinding. For safety, the bean container also needs to be locked into place for the Infinity to operate. For easy cleaning, the bean container and upper burr lift off so you can clean the grinding chamber with the included brush and wipe down the exterior housing.
- Purchase from Amazon | $83
Yes you have a George Forman grill but this is so much more than that. The Cuisinart Griddler is actually five appliances in one. A hinged, floating cover and one set of removable and reversible cooking plates turn the Griddler into a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, or half grill/half griddle. Dual temperature controls and indicator lights make this product easy to use.
Purchase from Amazon | $84
Extravagant Gestures: $150 and Up
Itâ€™s a great replacement for the stove in the summer and a supplement to the oven when you are making a big meal or for parties. We have a toaster oven at the cabin as our main oven and while I miss the size of my oven, I am surprised how much cooking and baking I can do with it and how much we use it.
- Purchase at Amazon | $126
The Professional 600 TM has a powerful motor that is crafted for commercial-style performance, the direct drive, all-steel gear transmission delivers unyielding power for professional results. The mixer can effectively mix up to 14 cups of all-purpose flour per recipe and produce up to 8 pounds of mashed potatoes. The Soft Start mixing feature helps minimize ingredient splatter and flour puff with gentle acceleration to selected speed after start-up. Electronic Speed Sensor monitors operation to maintain precise mixer speed. Commercial-style motor protection automatically shuts off the mixer when overload is sensed to protect the motor. Durable all-steel gears provide reliable service. The mixer includes a 6-quart-capacity stainless-steel mixing bowl with a contoured handle, as well as a professional wire whip, a burnished flat beater, a spiral dough hook, and a one piece pouring shield. Its multipurpose attachment hub with a hinged hub cover flips open to allow for easy installation of attachments. The Professional 600 Series bowl-lift design raises the bowl into the mixing position, and its solid, truly seamless one-piece motor head design is easy to clean and comes in a variety of fashionable colors.
- Purchase from Amazon.com| $400
Kitchenaid Food Processor
With its powerful motor, this convenient food processor quickly and easily slices, dices, chops, and purees, helping to reduce prep time in the kitchen. The appliance comes with a large 9-cup work bowl that makes it easy to create an entire meal from scratch. The unit’s extra-large one-piece feed tube accommodates whole fruits and vegetables and allows for continuous processing.
Accessories include a stainless-steel medium slicing disc (4 mm), a stainless-steel shredding disc, a chopping/mixing blade, a dough blade, and a detachable disc stem, plus a plastic spatula, a recipe/instruction book, and a how-to DVD. The unit’s compact build means it will fit comfortably on any countertop, and its brushed stainless finish adds a touch of elegance to any modern kitchen. All removable parts clean up easily by hand or in the dishwasher. The food processor measures 9-1/2 by 7 by 13 inches and carries a three-year limited warranty with a 10-year limited warranty on the motor.
- Purchase at Amazon | $135
Watch the video and then decide if the person on your list would love a subscription to Tonx at $19 per shipment. I think many people in all of our lives would say yes.
Purchase at Tonx | $19 every two weeks
Wendy put together a Christmas gift guide for the cook (or foodie) in your life at The Cooking Blog. Â If you are shopping for someone that loves to cook or bake, make sure you check it out. Â All of the holiday season’s Christmas gift guides are being posted hereÂ so if you are shopping online or are just looking for some gift ideas, the site can help.
On Sunday I decided to take the family to Waskesiu for the day. We drove up through Prince Albert, past the Prince Albert Penitentiary and Riverbend Institution (Wendy was curious over where the Salvation Army has our prison barbecue) and then to Waskesiu (Mark thought we were headed to the cabin via Regina but in his defense, I had purchased him an issue of Transworld Skateboarding and he may not have noticed the forest through the many trees).
After eating at The Angry Taco, we wandered around the beach, did some shopping, and some exploring. During most of the day, I had chest pains which I have had for months but had been telling myself, they were stress. I have stress at work and for those of you who read Wendyâ€™s blog, I have a lot of stress at home, depending on the state of her depression. For the last month, I would walk the fifteen blocks home and be totally exhausted. I have walked back and forth from home to the Salvation Army hundreds of times and while I am walking up Caswell Hill, it isnâ€™t as if I need to use climbing ropes for safety. Itâ€™s a pretty tame climb.
On Monday morning I woke up with pain and I decided to go to Royal University Hospitalâ€™s Emergency Room to get it checked out. I was hoping they would tell me it was stress but after my chest X-Ray, they told me it something more serious and I was being admitted. So off to the 6000 ward I was sent with all of the other cardiology patients where I awaited my angiogram. The first night was just annoying. Wendy brought my noise cancelling headphones which makes sense but I sleep on my side so I knocked them off my head where I was greeted with snoring, snoring, and more snoring. As soon I would fall asleep, I would knock off one of the heart monitor points which would sent a nurse scrambling in to see if I was dead and/or fix the points. If I wasnâ€™t doing that, I was rolling over and jamming my intravenous. I was also woken up blood work techs and of course they needed to wake me for my blood pressure and temperature. On top of that the blood thinner they gave me made me cold which all adds up to under two hours of sleep. I donâ€™t know why but in the silence of Monday night, I felt scared for the first time since Wendy was giving labour to Oliver. Death has never bothered me that much but the idea of giving up on life prematurely because of stupid diet decisions and choices really bothered me. My mom declined to have chemotherapy when she was dying of cancer because she didnâ€™t want to go through it and I have always questioned that decision. I donâ€™t want Mark and Oliver to think, â€œWhy didnâ€™t Dad cut the McDonalds out of his diet and choose to be with us for some more years?â€ I felt quite disappointed in myself.
Tuesday was spent waiting. I saw my cardiologist and other doctors who lectured me on my diet and weight. Fair enough. The other thing that hit me was they were on me because of how high my cholesterol and blood pressure was which was news to me. They put me on Lipitor for probably the rest of my life and also Ramipril to help me deal with high blood pressure. Wendy had to work Tuesday night so I was chilling out reading Fareed Zakariaâ€™s The Post American World Release 2.0 when Cam Broten came by and chatted politics and life for a bit. The best part of the visit was he brought up The Economist and a fantasy football magazine. The next day this doctor comes in and looks at my reading material and says, â€œNo wonder you are in here, you canâ€™t relax reading The Economistâ€ He picks it up and sees the football magazine and then without batting an eye goes, â€œShould I pick Manning as my QB with the neck problems or Brady with Ochocinco?â€ Apparently global economic stress is bad while NFL fantasy league stress is good. Thatâ€™s why I am not a doctor.
Wednesday morning I was in for my angiogram. They found a lesion on my heart as well as two partially blocked arteries and some blockage in another one. The most concerning were the two arteries that are partially blocked as they arenâ€™t bad enough to deal with. Those mean that I need a drastic change to deal with or schedule myself a series of heart attacks, by-passes, and strokes in the coming years.
After having a 40 minute heart ultrasound and nurses tearing away connection point after connection point off my body, I was allowed to return home where I hung out with the boys before I fell asleep. My right arm was useless as that is the artery they chose to get to my heart which resulted in some spilled milk but we survived as a family. Mark fired up Netflix and showed Wendy the Arrested Development where GOB is CEO and going on and on about how much his suit cost. At the hospital he goes to Wendy, â€œCâ€™mon, Iâ€™m the guy in a $3700 t-shirt and you want me to get you a pop?!â€. Itâ€™s even funnier now that Wendy gets what he was talking about. Even Oliver is going, â€œCâ€™mon, look at my pantsâ€.
Today I went to Indigo and bought a couple of cookbooks. One is on eating Heart Smart, the other one was The Vegetarian Bible. We have the Mayo Clinic cookbook and some other heart healthy eating books so I have some choices. Low cholesterol diets can be summed up with one word, bland. I had a chicken fajita tonight and they werenâ€™t bad which is kind of pathetic but that is how food will be defined now. After that I stopped by work to chat and after 30 minutes of that, I was too tired to wander over to the other side of the building. Wendy drove me home (I canâ€™t drive for a couple of days) and I have just been exhausted all day. My proudest accomplishment has been writing this post and doing some dishes. Other than that I have been sleeping and resting. Oh yeah, thinking. I have been thinking a lot as well.
In the proud tradition of â€œdoing what the voices in my wifeâ€™s head tell me to doâ€, I thought I would let all of you Facebook
nerds users know that The Cooking Blog is now on Facebook. While Facebook has been doing a really bad job of importing posts, Wendy has it working again which means that you can follow her site on Facebook if you become a fan. Now you know.
I was asked about the advertising I have on some of our sites the other day. I sent most of this via e-mail but after I was asked about this again, I thought I would post it here.
I have never thought advertising was that big of a money maker. If you have time, look at the rates that many of the blogs on Federated Media are making and it isnâ€™t that much. Compared to big media sites, blogs donâ€™t generate that much traffic. Despite all of the sites claiming to make big money from Google Adwords, without the traffic and a narrow band of content, I canâ€™t see you making that much money from it.
The site generates about 150 hits a day, mostly from Google involving information on architecture and design. The site is kind of interesting as hits never seem to go up or down on a seasonal basis or around holidays.
Advertising: Google Adsense serves up one ad block per page. As you can see, itâ€™s not a big revenue generator. $52.37 since I added ads to the site over a year ago.
Most of the ads from what I can tell come from when I am talking about architecture and design and the ad gives some purchasing options for that or a competing product.
Itâ€™s a new site and traffic is all over the place but averaging about 300 views a day with most traffic coming from Google. Itâ€™s too new of a site to distinguish traffic patterns yet and it can vary greatly from day to day.
Advertising: Google Adsense serves up one small badge of advertising per page. I also use Google Adsense to serve up ads in the feed (as explained by this comment).
The site has made a couple of dollars so far in 2010. I donâ€™t expect it to made $100.00 in advertising until early 2011 and the traffic has time to grow. Google Adsense is the not the best long term advertising option for the site.
Itâ€™s generated about 700 hits per day and about 1000 people subscribe to the RSS feed. While not nearly as popular as it once was (the quality of the site seems to have gone down), the revenue from the site comes from itâ€™s Amazon.com affiliate account.
I was making just pennies on the Amazon.com account until November 2009 when between it and December 2009, I made almost $1000 in affiliate fees all because of the series of Christmas gift guides I created for the site. When I started them, I didnâ€™t expect any bump in traffic at all and the main audience of the gift guides was a friend I work with who was dying trying to figure out what to get her dad and father in law for Christmas. By early December, the site was serving up 15,000 hits a day from basically 10 different blog posts. Not only did it generate a lot of traffic to Amazon, I also got thank you notes from several other sites for the traffic and the orders.
The site doesnâ€™t employ much in terms of SEO practices so I contribute the traffic spike to dumb luck and there are a lot of people who are in similar demographic positions as Wendy and I who liked my suggestions.
This is Wendyâ€™s site and I mention it because it has made about $500 a year on Google Adsense Revenue. I attribute that to itâ€™s narrow focus, large Twitter following, and ads that are really closely linked to what people are searching for.
So now you know.
A quick search around some of advertising sites plus reading blogs like Dooce give you an idea of what kind of traffic you need to make a living doing this (Dooce has over 4 million). Yeah, her and her husband are able to work at home and just run the site but 4 million hits a month is more than some blogs will see in a lifetime. Even Tony Jones is on record for saying he made $5/day blogging on Beliefnet. Online advertising isnâ€™t going to make any of rich, maybe I should look at whoring myself out for publishers again.