For the kitchen

Tajine.

Not surprisingly, we received many gifts we will use this year while we grow, cook and eat. Here’s a bit of list.

A tajine (the earthenware vessel not the dish), given along with recipes and a Moroccan spice mixture. Something I would not have splurged on for myself but will treasure for its decorative qualities and the slow-cooked spicy meals I plan to make this winter. A perfect gift.

Large stockpot. A more practical present, to be sure. But one that I requested and will boost my stock-making productivity by 50 per cent.

Good-quality, non-stick skillet. We’d tossed an old one years ago and eggs have never been quite the same. Another practical but useful gift. (Fried egg, cheddar, ham and olde smoky on English muffins made a quick pre-guest-arrival brunch Dec. 27.)

Searing plate. This is an accessory for our Weber charcoal grill. A new hinged cooking grate with a removal wire insert and a cast-iron seal grate that fits right in. David can practically taste the rare ribeye.

Herbes de Provence. I used this classic French mixture of dried savory, basil, thyme, fennel and lavender flowers to flavour a simple post-holiday-food vegetable soup.

Mustard. David loves Anton Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard, available in dozens of varieties at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Cheez ‘N More Specialty Cheese Shoppe in Aurora and other fine food retailers. I stuffed his stocking with a couple of varieties — olde smoky and horseradish — he can use to liven up his weekday sandwich.

Red peppers. Hot and red pepper jelly, plus just the right dish for serving, in the tomato red that accents our kitchen. A lovely host gift.

Nail brush. A must for anyone making frequent trips between the vegetable garden and kitchen.

Hand cream. Ditto.