A Few of My Favorite Things (2013)

It’s Cyber Monday! Can you believe that we are already well into the holiday season?

I am still in denial of the fact that Thanksgiving is over already. It seems that I spent weeks and weeks trying to decide what to make and then it was over in a flash.  I suppose that’s the way it always goes. But, this year it seems that time is flying by faster than ever. I think having kids will do that to you.

Just the other night, my husband and I were sitting down, after the kiddo was in bed, just enjoying the peace and quiet in the house.  With a yellow lab running around chasing the toddler (and vice versa), there are very few peaceful moments in our house these days. As we sat there, we realized how different our life is now… A year ago, we were just trying to get our bearing and figure out what it meant to have a baby in the family.  Two years ago, we were hoping and praying that someday we might be blessed with a sweet baby of our own… And, we watched TV. Yes, two years ago, we had time to watch TV. We also went out to dinner, cooked fancy meals at home, and had plenty of time to relax. I also fit into slightly smaller pants.

But, I digress… This post isn’t about the things that we did before we had our sweet little girl.  We couldn’t be happier to have her in our lives, and we welcome the change. I think I just find that the holidays are a great time to reflect on years past.

In the past, I have often shared my favorite foodie-appropriate gifts for the year on Cyber Monday. To keep with tradition, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites today… This year’s favorites are definitely a reflection of the “new normal” at my house. My picks aren’t necessarily glamorous… Instead, they are the things that I have been using day in and day out. They are the things that I have purchased with my own money (no freebies or sponsored items here) that are a part of my everyday life. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen them pop up in my feed here and there (in between some silly selfies, baby photos, and miscellaneous shots of food).

So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from 2013… Complete with matching Instagram photos!

(In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to mention that the product links are Amazon affiliate links… More info at the bottom of the post!)

I’ll stir fry you in my wok!

Did you get the Beastie Boys reference? Yup, I find myself rapping in the kitchen every time I get out my 14-inch Carbon Steel Wok (from the Wok Shop in San Francisco).  I only ordered it a few weeks ago, but I am already loving it. Skip the fancy woks with nonstick surfaces, fancy handles, and other gimmicky nonsense.  This wok was very reasonably priced, and it will likely outlast me.

After a quick seasoning (and setting off the smoke detectors three times… during naptime), it was ready to go and pretty much nonstick.  I’ve already gotten great use out of it.  We eat a lot of stir fry around here.  It’s quick and easy… And, it’s an easy way to use the random leftover veggies from the CSA each week.

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From the kitchen bookshelf…

I hinted before that we don’t go out to eat as much as we used to these days. In fact, we pretty much never go out to eat.  We’re still trying to convince Maddie that there are no dogs at restaurants to clean up after her. She insists on throwing her food on the floor and craning her neck to look for the doggy that will magically appear.

Instead, I’ve been cooking quite a bit.  I find myself going back to the same few cookbooks over and over again.  Sure, I still have shelves full of “fancy” cookbooks with recipes for elaborate desserts and elegant entrees. But, the cookbooks that I find myself using are the “everyday” cookbooks full of good, solid recipes that feed the family without too much fuss (while still sticking to cooking from scratch with whole ingredients).  The books I keep going back to this year are Homemade with Love (by Jennifer Perillo), Gluten-Free Girl Every Day (by Shauna James Ahern), Perfect One-Dish Dinners (by Pam Anderson), and Cook without a Book: Meatless Meals (also by Pam Anderson). Not only do I love the recipes, but it always makes me feel like I am cooking with friends when I pull out those books.

If you want to splurge…

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I don’t generally push kitchen gadgets, especially ones that cost a lot of money. Frankly, I don’t have many of them in my kitchen. I certainly do not have room for single-purpose items that take up precious space in my cabinets (individual pie makers, cupcake makers, fancy toasters, etc…).  That said, I have found myself relying on a few things in the kitchen lately that I think are well worth the money, if you are looking to splurge.

At the top of my splurge list this year is the Vitamix Professional Series 750… Yes, it is a blender, and (to be quite blunt) a very expensive blender. But, I use it just about every day. Many days, I use it multiple times.  Sure, it makes the best smoothies (enjoyed by both Maddie and myself… She drinks hers in her Sili Squeeze), but it does a lot more than that. I use mine for tomato sauce, hot chocolate, baby food and all sorts of other purees, homemade frappes, hot soup, homemade applesauce, and lots more.

My other splurge is this set of Wüsthof knives. Earlier this year, I decided that it was time to upgrade the knives in my kitchen.  I went back and forth on what I wanted to buy, and I eventually decided to try out the Wüsthof Classic knives. I had two santoku knives that I used pretty heavily before (a purchase a few years ago), but I never really utilized the rest of the knives in my (rather cheap) knife block. To replace them all, I went with the 8 piece set and bought an additional 7-inch santoku knife to add to the collection. Much to my surprise, the santoku knife isn’t my favorite (though I use it daily)… I have fallen in love with the chef’s knife. I also use the paring and slicing knives more than I ever thought I would. They are perfect for chopping up toddler-friendly finger foods.

Please Note – The product links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale price, which helps to keep My Kitchen Addiction up and running. Thanks!

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