Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hint, hint

1)Megan McArdle has a mammoth thread on kitchen equipment as gifts. Some stray thoughts:

a)MIcroplane graters are awesome, and one cannot have too many. I actually bought one specifically to leave at Ilya's apartment when we lived apart.

b)So are silicone matts.

c)I suspect I would never use anything else on her inexpensive list. There is no way I would ever froth my own milk in the morning before work. Also, separating eggs is not that hard.

d)To the medium priced: the rabbit corkscrew would be useful. There was a ten-minute ordeal at one of my dinner parties featuring Pnin wrestling with the cheap Ikea one that I bought in law school. It was entertaining viewing, but at the poor boy's expense.

e)I don't actually like pepper at all and would never use a pepper mill.

f)I do want an immersion blender.

g)And a kitchen scale.

h)The magnetic spice rack sounds like an overly complicated nuisance.

i)I have a silicone rolling pin and still can't roll out pie crust. I follow a trick I saw on Cooks' Illustrated once, which consists of ripping walnut-sized pieces of dough off a round and just pinching each into the pie plate. Nobody seems to have noticed or objected to my pies so far.

j)I do want expensive knives! Alas, I'm not registering for any because it's bad luck. This just seems sad and patently unfair.

k)Pnin has an electric teakettle. It makes me utterly happy and delighted every time he uses it.

l)Am not seeing the virtues of the electric griddler over plain griddle pan, which I already have.

m)I do ardently, ardently want a real stand mixer. Co-sign the trendy colors point. My mother's is avocado, which was the height of fashion in 1974 when my parents were married. Though the color has come back into fashion...

n)Co-sign the food processor. I have a mini but not a large one. It's still useful but is limited.

o)And her love of Le Creuset.

2)See also Double X. The hippo mat is excellent*, though the price is a bit much to ask. If it helps anyone, I am deeply attached to my i-phone Helvidius and endorse its gift potential. Ditto overpriced yoga equipment.

*Clarissa Dalloway and I had a running joke in college about hippos, which is perhaps way too complicated to explain fully here. The genesis of this story is that I tried to wake her up early one morning to go buy books, and she replied that she could not go because she was "a tired hippo." This led to the purchase of hippo slippers for her as a birthday present a few weeks later and numerous references to feeling like "tired hippos." We also commonly use "hippo" as a slang term, which means roughly "an eccentric person who has abundant quirky charm." There is substantial overlap between our term "hippo" and the definition of an X person in Paul Fussell's Class, for those who've read it.

3)Not recommended elsewhere, but lust.


  1. How did at-home soda-makers not make these lists? I just got my boyfriend one and, I mean, infinite seltzer! Assuming the C02 canister isn't about to run out or explode, this is by far the most useful item I've ever purchased for the kitchen that qualifies as a "gadget."

  2. Maybe Megan's not a soda drinker? I'm not -- I didn't drink it at all until I was 10 or 11. I drank it as a teenager/in college because there are some settings in which other beverages weren't available or appropriate, and sometimes Diet Coke is a nice caffeine pick-up. My fiance's the same way, and we rarely buy soda in the supermarket unless we're expecting guests. For people with more normal beverage tastes, perhaps it's more useful...

  3. Right, not liking seltzer would make this gadget useless.

  4. I sold knives and scissors and things (in a store, not door to door) to work my way through college and law school. I am happy to relate that there is a way to negate the bad luck associated with giving/recieving a knife or other edged tool as a gift.

    Simply put some money (it can be as little as a penny) in the box with the tool. The recipient must then give the money back to the giver, which means they've *paid* for the tool. Since it was paid for, it cannot affect the relationship between the giver and the recipient. (Unless of course it is just a crappy tool. Presumably you will not register for any of those.)

    I gave this advice to literally hundreds of people over several years, and never had one come back and complain. If you are interested in edged *weaponry,* I could also relate a somewhat darker bit of lore regarding the purchase of same, but perhaps this is not the time. :)