gratersI know, it’s two days before the incredible Turkey Day, and my mind is on pedicures, (really).  Not just pedicures, but that little egg grater call Ped EggTM has been looming on my mind.  The Ped Egg was initially developed to file away heavy skin of heels and toes.  In the genetic pool, I’ve seem to inherit nasty, thick, rapid growing calluses on my feet.  Now that is more information than you need to know.

The good thing out of this is that I’ve tried every product to remove the calluses and finally found a little file/grater called Ped-Egg which does a wonder job getting rid of my nasty little problem.  Watching my daughter trying to grate a small portion of parmesan cheese and making a mess, I realized that Ped Egg would be perfect.  It is also perfect for garlic, nutmeg, citrus, almost any substance that you need to grate small amounts and easily capture.  The only thing to beware is that Ped Egg is mostly from plastic which will keep that wonderful garlic smell forever.  So buy yourself several Ped Eggs and go experiment.  Luckily they come in 3 colors; pink, light blue and white.

Talk about grating, when I need large amounts of finely grated items, my first choice is my mother’s french cheese grater.  Truly a bizarre contraption, it quickly grates chucks of cheese, nuts and other foods.  The only problem is that it takes up to much room in my small kitchen, which is why it is still at my mother’s house.  I love the Microplane TM rasp for quick, medium size jobs but have been disappointed with their small rasp (it’s in the photo along with the large rasp) – I can’t seem to make it work as well as their large rasps.  But for a fine tiny job, the Ped Egg is wonderful .

Enough about graters and rasps.  Let’s talk about food, and a great cranberry recipe.  Here is one of my favorites.  Every year I buy a large bag of cranberries and make a huge pot of the this recipe.   Cranberry sauce freezes well, so put most of it in plastic containers and freeze for another day.  However if you are DESPERATE, Trader Joe’s makes a good cranberry sauce that isn’t too sugary sweet.

Madeira Cranberry Orange Relish

You can experiment and try using Chardonnay or a Merlot wine instead of the Madeira.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound washed cranberries

2 cups of sugar

½ cup of good Madeira

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

½ cup of orange juice

1/4 cup of finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large heavy pot combine all the ingredients except the nuts.  Cook until the cranberries pop open (approximately 10 minutes).  Skim the foam.  Cool down

2.  Serve the relish in a lovely dish and garnish with the nuts.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the holiday.  Don’t forget to use your SaladSuccess Salad Dressing Shaker and eat lots of wonderful salads.

bakeware_splash1Sometimes I really need Christmas, especially in August.  My lawn is brown, the tomatoes plant look sad because I’m dry farming them, and the weather is usually quite foggy until noon. It’s time for a pick-me-up gift and that’s when I head to Chefworks of Santa Cruz.

However this weekend I was lucky.  Judy Huyck, Chefworks owner and lover of sheltie dogs, ask me to demo SaladSuccess at her wonderful emporium.  Now what foodie doesn’t want to spend 4 hours in the proverbial candy shop?

And what a candy shop.  I set up my little table and display and spent time perusing the shelves.  In my perfect world, I would be getting rid of my old pitted Calphalon® pots and buying Mauviel coppers from France or All-Clad.  And those new silicon steamers.  That was my best Christmas present from my brother, and Judy has jumbo size ones that could steam my corn.  Excuse a slight detour from my thoughts, but my love for the silicon steamer is due to its cleaning features.  No more disgusting veggie or even worse, fish yuck that never comes out, no matter how many time you wash the damn thing.

There is just everything you’d ever want to cook with, in Chefworks and every little tiny gadget necessary to save time with the process and the cleaning.  I’m not even going near the tableware section, Judy would have to drag me back to my demo area, while I clutch my arms around the tablecloth display.

It was a splendid day, customers were wonderful and lit up when they heard about SaladSuccess.  I even learned a thing or two; about Chinese smokers, basting needles and what pots I should drool over for my next “Christmas”.

So if you find yourself one day, in Santa Cruz California, do stop on over and visit Chefworks.  Maybe if you are lucky you find Judy at the counter, surrounded by her two beloved shelties.

cutco-knivesI swear that there is a point to this blog entry, but excuse me if I meander a bit.  I am a French cooking snob, a kitchen elitist.  I bought my Le Creuset 7 piece set when I was 23, unemployed and living with Mom (can you believe it was on sale for $35).  Never mind that no one in New Jersey knew what Le Creuset was, I did, and I knew that a Le Creuset cocotte makes superb stews.  I’ve always purchased Sabatier, Henkels or Wusthof knives, and have the usual collection of Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart electronic cooking toys.

Keeping this in mind, a close friend of mine set me up with some kid saying I was to help him with his marketing.  It ended up being a sales call.

Now I don’t know about you, but I hate being called on for network (sorry, he called it “vector”) marketing sales, especially when it is a young, inexperienced puppy-eye kid who has never cooked in his life.  I think that his use for knives has been as a replacement for a screw driver.  But there I was, stuck to my seat for an hour, watching the clock as the kid went through methodically, slowly, tediously using a monotone delivery, his sales pitch.  Finally I told him that I would buy a knife, the salmon slicer, just to get him out of the house.  Does Puppy Eyes take the hint? Can I get him out of the house in the next five minutes?  Oh, no.  We still have pages to go.  Finally I said, “That’s it, I’ve got to get back to work NOW”.  So we did wrap up, but to add insult to injury, I was presented a bill for $100 for the precious salmon slicer knife. I need this like a hole in my head or like the hole in my wallet that Puppy Eyes created.

Days later, in spite of Puppy Eyes not properly preparing the paperwork, the knife showed up.  In a huff, I put it on my magnetic knife strip in my kitchen, vowing never to use the damn thing.

Later that week, I went to the Gourmet Show and drooled over the racks of knives.  They were all gorgeous, with stylish handles and beautifully designed.  Those knives looked nothing like mine with its ungainly plastic handle and ugly rivets.  Just forget it, Nadine, so you wasted $100.

But back to the show.  If I wasn’t such a penny-pinching cook, I’d be ripe to blow my shrunken 401K on the new lime green 12-piece Le Creuset set.  I was like a junkie in the drugstore.  If you are a cooking freak like me, do yourself a favor.  Forget that trip to Europe and go to the Gourmet Show instead.  So while I was in ecstasy, I mentioned my knife mishap to my good friend Annaliese Keller, President of Malabar Trading (world’s best teas – go there) how I was stuck with this $100 knife due to an inept puppy-eye kid. She muttered something about how that brand is easier on her hand due to its shape but I missed the rest of her review since a new glass teapot caught my eye.

Several weeks later, I was making 8 loaves of garlic bread for my daughter’s swim team party.  Since there would be a hoard of hungry kids who didn’t care if the bread came from a trendy bakery, I bought the loaves at Safeway.  The loaves were murder on my regular bread knives; crust too soft to dig in to and the insides were even softer.  Not one knife worked well; they would slip, needed 3 strokes per slice or crush the insides.  Finally in desperation, I reached for the salmon slicer.  OMG, not only did it cut, but it sliced effortlessly through the bread  in one stroke.  And my hand didn’t cramp up as usual.

So instead of eating crow, I’ll eat my old knives.  Forget the Le Creuset set; I’m saving up for a full new set of Cutco knives. I’ll even call up Puppy Eyes and really make his day.