Megnut

barnyard buddies towel setToday's Etsy holiday gift idea is this way cool Barnyard Buddies Towel Set for all your animal-loving kitchen-towel using friends. The seller also offers towels with other designs as well, such as swallows, chickadees, and deer. Two towels for $17.50. Thanks Alaina!

Braising

Recently I learned how to make braised chicken wings with Daniel Boulud. Watch the video and learn for yourself, and then you can make them, as we'll be (shortly) posting the recipe for Daniel's wings on the Serious Eats site.

Munching fishbrain bread from Finland? No taste bud challenge is too great for lead singer Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, who's enjoyed a variety of culinary experiences as his band toured the world over the last couple of years.

In case my listing of gifts isn't doing it for you, here's a list of Gifts for the Nanogastronome from Wired News that features such sure-hit items as foamers and dehydrators. [via The Grinder]

Menu for HopeI'm happy to announce that I'm participating in the Menu for Hope, a food blogger fundraising campaign. This year, Menu for Hope III will raise funds to support the UN World Food Programme, which provides hunger relief for needy people worldwide. Last year's Menu for Hope raised over $17,000 for Unicef, and I'm sure with more participation we can do even better this year!

KitchenAid Stand MixerHow does it work? If you make a $10 contribution, you will be entered to win your choice of prizes donated by participating food bloggers. There's some really cool stuff in there, including coffee with Thomas Keller (either in CA or NY). I've donated a KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer (in Empire Red).

If you're interested in participating, here's what you need to do:

1. Go to the donation page at First Giving.

2. Make a donation, each $10 will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize or prizes you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. The prize code for my KitchenAid mixer is UE03. Do tell us how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code -for example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UW01 and 3 for UW02.

3. If your company matches your charity donation, please remember to check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

4. Please also check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

5. Check back on Chez Pim on January 15 when we announce the result of the raffle. (The drawing will be done electronically. Our friend the code wizard Derrick at Obsession with Food is responsible for the wicked application that will do the job.)

Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

Sushi Instructions
Lovely hand-drawn sushi instructions from Flickr user MontanaRaven.

Today only 13 slaughterhouses process the majority of the beef consumed by 300 million Americans. Eric Schlosser on the sorry state of our food supply safety efforts and the role politics has played in making it less safe. One chilling statistic: "Cutbacks in staff and budgets have reduced the number of food-safety inspections conducted by the F.D.A. to about 3,400 a year -- from 35,000 in the 1970s." With food distribution more centralized than ever, ensuring the safety of our food supply is critical.

Snowman OrnamentThis week's gift suggestion comes from my favorite place for unique gifts: Etsy! Etsy, if you're not familiar with it, is an online marketplace for handcrafted goods. All week I'll be featuring gifts from Etsy, but consider yourself warned now: if you like what you see, you better go ahead and order it right away. Since everything's handcrafted, quantities are limited. Today's gift is a Llama Felt Snowman Ornament. "4 and 1/2 inch tall snowman with a lavender hat and a blue scarf. He's made entirely from my llama fiber with 'coal' buttons and eyes and a 'carrot' nose." So cute, he can hang from your recipient's tree for only $15.

The term "molecular gastronomy" does not describe our cooking, or indeed any style of cooking. Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller and Harold McGee step up with an international agenda for great cooking. "Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity." Great principles, they should be applied to a lot more than cooking.

Could a chef make dishes that are as good, or better, using only the trace amount of trans fats allowed under the city’s new rules? With the passage of the trans fat ban in New York City, chefs are reformulating recipes to be compliant with the new regulations. I wonder if we'll see the development of a black market for trans fat baked goods in the future?

Bamboo Cutting BoardYikes, I'm late on today's holiday gift recommendation! But this Bamboo Cutting Board is an easy, inexpensive present for your favorite cook or entertainer. It's great as a cutting board but stylish enough to put out as a cheese tray or dessert platter. I own two different sized boards, and I love the clean lines and interesting pattern of the bamboo. It's the hippest $15 present you'll find. $14.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

OystersThis year has brought an especially good crop of New York oyster varieties, reports Grub Street, and offers "three top places to slurp your share of the local abundance." I would like to do a comparison of some New England oysters and some Long Islands because Wellfleets are my favorite, but I can't say I've really tried Blue Points or some of the others mentioned in the Grub Street article.

Chicken Fried Bacon
Chicken Fried Bacon is all you need to know about this video. Hear about its invention, watch it being made, and then watch it being consumed. If you're not in awe of this man's genius and anxious to try some, you are dead to me. [via Metafilter]

Helman 5L Beer DispenserLooking for a gift for a big beer drinker? What about a 5L Beer Dispenser? "A classy alternative to a keg, this contemporary beer dispenser keeps up to 5 liters of beer cool and right at your fingertips." What I can't figure out is how the beer gets in there (do you just pour a whole bunch of cans of Bud into it?) but I imagine a savvy beer drinker, before s/he's had too many, can solve the problem. And then you can just place this baby next to your sofa and refill without even getting up. Sunday football just got a little bit better. $99.99 from target.com.

The White House Menu for the 2006 Holiday Receptions includes such American classics as "Chicken Fried Beef Tenderloin with White Onion Gravy," "Asparagus Tier with Lemon-Garlic Aioli" , and "Warm MacIntosh Apple Cobbler." Yum, I wish I were going to a White House Holiday Reception, if only for the chicken fried tenderloin.

Attention Megnut RSS Users: I've made a change to the location of my RSS file. It should be transparent to you and your newsreader, and you should seamlessly be redirected to the new location. But as we all know, these things never quite work right. Please let me know if you have any problems accessing my feed. And lets all cross our fingers that it just works right the first time.

The organic paradox: The movement's adherents have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, but success has imperiled their ideals. "It simply isn't clear that organic food production can be replicated on a mass scale." Business Week cover story from a few months ago about the threat to organic because of the ever-increasing demand. [via Jaded Vegetarian]

Does the choice to eat locally decrease the amount of carbon emitted? It seems like the answer is no. Interesting discussion at eGullet about the preceived benefits of a locavore (e.g. the 100 mile) diet.

Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of FlavorToday's gift idea is for a true geeky food lover, Hervé This' Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor. If you know someone who loves McGee, they will enjoy this book. "In each short chapter This presents a piece of debatable conventional wisdom-such as whether it is better to make a stock by placing meat in already boiling water, or water before it is boiled-and gives its history, often quoting famous French chefs, before making scientific pronouncements." There's almost nothing I enjoy more than understanding why stuff happens in the kitchen, and seeing traditions wives' tales explained or disproved. Several reviews do warn that it's heavy on the science, so save it for a recipient who likes chemistry and physics, not someone who has trouble keeping up with Alton Brown. $19.77 from Amazon.com.

I hate being discriminated against because I'm skinny. "What often happens is that I'm standing in a pizza line next to a big guy and two pizza slices come fresh out of the oven for us. The server takes a look at me and then at him and gives me the smaller piece and him the bigger piece."

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