Tell me about your holiday wish list.

It’s that greedy time of year, but who doesn’t love shopping lists? Bill Keaggy, of St. Louis, has amassed grocery lists for his weird and fascinating online museum since 1999, and you should be sure not to visit his site if you need to dash out the door quickly, because it will suck you in. Holiday lists are, of course, a different sort of thing, but no less fascinating. Since I love spying on other people’s lists, I thought I’d let you spy on mine. If you have something fun in the culinary realm on your list, please let me know—I’d love to hear it.

51BXZjym3lL._SL500_AA300_First off, is there an American alive still who doesn’t idolize Rick Bayless? My last visit to his Chicago restaurant this summer was just as astounding as the first time I went 10 years ago. So astounding, in fact, I went back the very next night for a round 2. And then to his fast-food breakfast place the next morning for a round 3. (The tomato sauce in the huevos rancheros was the sort that would have even made my Italian grandmother weep with delight.) He is simply one of the best chefs in America, and he’s a darn nice guy too. He has a good-looking new cookbook out this year, but I am finding myself drawn to his quickie cookbook from a few years back, because I want to be able to cook this outrageous food even when I am pressed for time. And thus, here is my hope.

51WuVYT9N-L._SS500_This book has just come out, and it is right up my alley. I have bored many a fellow cocktail-party-goer with my diatribe about how good old fashioned American desserts are the best in the world, from double-crust fruit pies to glorious layer cakes. Give me a slice of devil’s food with Seven-Minute frosting any day over one of those fancy European sweets that stink of almond paste. Here are lost American cake recipes, in all their glory, and I can’t wait to dive in.

A renewal to my kids’ Chop Chop subscription is a must. Truth be told, my kids are a little younger than what I think the target age for this magazine, but my older one (he’s 4 1/2) still devours it every time it arrives, fascinated by the adorable graphics (particularly the smiling scallion) and the pictures of kids cooking. It gets us talking about food and usually trying a new dish, too.

Finally, peppercorns in abundance. We have been going through peppercorns as quickly as salt lately. My kids definitely have their typical kid quirks with regard to food, including that both of them prefer their pasta sauceless, but weirdly, they are both mad for black pepper. The best ones are pricey though. Tellicherry peppercorns are larger and fruitier than your typical grocery store ones, and I like both Malabar and Sarawak white pepper, definitely an acquired taste, redolent with earthy-barnyardy notes. Hopefully Santa stuffs my stocking with these little nuggets this year, instead of coal.


3 thoughts on “Tell me about your holiday wish list.

  1. All European desserts don’t have almond paste though I understand your aversion. We really did have amazing desserts all over Paris, but lots of variations of eclairs, finaniciers, and chocolate tarts. …But I have to admit that as soon as we got back from Paris, I ate a piece of my husband’s chocolate bundt cake. I guess I missed American cake, too? Oh, and I want to get that new Rick Bayless cookbook too! Have you tried any recipes from it?

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