Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Favorite Cooking, Baking & Fitness Gifts

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and/or is having a good Hanukkah! I finally feel like I can breathe now that all my cookies have made their way to neighbors, friends, and family (with a healthy supply left for me in the freezer), I'm done with holiday parties, and most of the family get-togethers are over.

For one holiday party, I tried the Mushroom-Walnut Pate from Veganomicon. The woodsy mushroom taste combined with the sweet, licorice taste of tarragon was delicious. I'd post a picture, but it looked like, well, brown crap on a slice of baguette. For Christmas Eve, I made Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping from Veganomicon that I made for Thanksgiving. I didn't make anything for Christmas because my family made me vegan versions of old Slovak favorites: mushroom halupki (mushrooms and rice stuffed in cabbage), bobotki (sauerkraut and doughballs sauteed in vegan margarine), and sauerkraut pierogi. Yum!

Most gifts people gave me were related to cooking, baking, and fitness, and I love them all!

The gift I'm probably most excited about was a Jade yoga mat that my husband gave me. I'd heard from several people that Jade mats are the best--you don't slip, and they're thick. When I researched the mats online, I was excited to learn that they are made of natural rubber with no PVC, are eco-friendly, and are made right here in the U.S. Plus, for every mat sold, the company plants a tree. Yay! Unfortunately, when I opened the mat, there was a large, ugly, raised seam on one side. I couldn't remember seeing such a seam on other people's mats, so I emailed the company. They apologized for the defect and are shipping me out a new mat. Yay for great customer service!

I also got a book about the New York City Marathon, A Race Like No Other. I just started running in June, ran my first 5K in August, and continue to run about three days a week, between 9.5 and 12 miles. I'm training for a 12K in May and am up to 5.5 miles of continuous running...and cannot imagine running 26.2 miles. Maybe someday, but for now I'm enjoying the book, which promises to be a great inside look at the marathon.

I also got a new running top to add to my large, stylish fitness wardrobe that rivals my regular wardrobe. :-)

Another gift I love is the Magic Bullet blender! Every time this infomercial comes on, my husband I want to order it but never have. In one of her cookbooks, Isa Chandra Moskowitz confessed she's a Magic Bullet lover because you can blend different sauces and salad dressings and store them in the containers that come with the blender. It also comes with four cups that can be used for blending a smoothie and then drinking right from the cup. I make smoothies nearly every day, and it's sooooo much more easy and convenient to blend and drink from the same cup and then just toss it into the dishwasher.

I also got a Kitchen Aid immersion blender for pureeing soups and other dishes right in the pot. (This is another tool Isa swears by, and I don't think Isa has ever been wrong.) It's going to be so much easier to blend in a pot rather than transferring to a blender or food processor and then back to the pot for heating.

I actually got a third blender! My husband got me a single-serving blender to make smoothies, with the blending jar also a cup you can take with you, but since the Magic Bullet does the same thing, I'll take the third blender back.
The last cooking gift I got was a mini doughnut pan. I've been wanting to make the baked mini doughnuts from Vegan Yum Yum Cookbook. I've had way too many cookies the past week and am sick of them, so as soon as my sweet tooth returns, I can't wait to bake doughnuts.

What are your favorite cooking, baking, and fitness gifts you gave or got this year?


  1. Can't wait to see what you do with the mini doughnut pans :) And the blender cups do sound like a time saver.

  2. Nice gifts! I got a hand blender too for Xmas, since mine broke down a couple of months ago. Can't wait to use it... it even comes with a whip that you can attach to it.

    I was very impressed by the Mushroom Pâté from Veganomicon. I could have eaten it straight up with a spoon.