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Their good work

Hello again! If I don’t write a post tonight, I will have to do my real work, which is to read the final proofs of Delancey before it goes to print, and that is a terrifying prospect. So!  La la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

As it happens, combing through files of old film photos is also a great way to avoid work - and I can use the photos here! Behold: somewhat ancient photos that have nothing at all to do with this post!

But more to the point: as I wrapped some Christmas presents the other evening, I found myself thinking about how much I enjoy the gift guides that crop up online every December. I can easily feel overwhelmed by exhortations to BUY STUFF!!!, but I always appreciate helpful ideas and good things shared by people I trust. To that end, I sort of want to share my own small guide, something I’ve never done before.  Is it too late for a gift guide?  Maybe you’ve already checked off your entire list?  In case you haven’t, what follows is a selection of the things I am most excited about this year, many of them handmade - and some even made here in Seattle, by friends of ours. I hope you’ll find it useful. This time of year makes me feel very lucky to know so many creative, enterprising people, both in Seattle and through the Internet, and I feel even luckier to have this space to share their good work.

- A couple of months ago, I started taking pottery classes at Pottery Northwest, which I highly (highly!) recommend, and I noticed that some of the potters there were wearing fantastic aprons, Japanese-style aprons that criss-cross in the back and have nice, big pockets in front.  I asked one of them about hers, and she told me that she’d bought it on Etsy, from a company called Kanso Aprons. I came home and immediately ordered one in black denim, and I’ve worn it almost constantly since. (If you think I exaggerate, ask my spouse. I am INTO this apron.) It’s easy to put on - it slips over your head; no ties - and can be thrown in the washing machine with everything else, and it doesn’t pull at the back of your neck the way other aprons do.

- Over Thanksgiving, we visited my cousin Jason and his family in Tahoe, and Jason got me hooked on using an Aeropress to make coffee.  Now, listen: I have plenty of good ways to make coffee at home - a Chemex, a little pour-over dripper, even an old espresso machine that Brandon gave me a couple of years ago - but these days, I often find myself making coffee verrrrrry early in the morning, and with only one arm (while holding a certain June with the other), and I need it to be easy. Aeropress is easy. I love Aeropress. I find it more consistent, and more consistently delicious, than Chemex or pour-over. And if I try (and fail) to make a drinkable espresso one more time with a baby on my hip, one of us is going to cry. Actually, both of us.

- Our dearly dreadlocked friend Rachel Marshall makes the best ginger beer on Earth, and she’s just begun selling it online and shipping nationally. (!)  Rachel was once a server at Delancey, and before her ginger beer went huge, she used to make it in the Delancey kitchen on days when we were closed, using just fresh ginger, fresh lemons, organic sugar, and water.  It’s bright, lemony, not too sweet, and spicy enough to clear your sinuses, and I LOVE IT.

- Our friend Ricardo makes beautiful sea salt from water that he hand-harvests (!) from Strait of Juan de Fuca, off the west side of Whidbey Island. His salt, which he sells under the name Admiralty Salt, has a pure, clean flavor and is delicate and flaky the way Maldon salt is. Ricardo used to cook at Delancey, and we’re proud to use his salt. You can buy it by contacting him through the Admiralty Salt website.

- Our friend Megan makes Marge Granola, the best granola I know of. My favorite flavor is the Original, with pecans and cranberries, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.  And the packaging is nice enough to make a pretty gift. (Word up, Our Man Sam!) I gave Marge granola to a number of people on my list last year.

- June’s favorite book is currently Rah, Rah, Radishes, which was a first-birthday gift from the Amster-Burtons. Whenever she sees it, she says, "Rrrr rrrr ruh," and I take that as a strong endorsement. I should, however, warn you that, after reading this book only once, you will spend the rest of your life with "Rah, rah, radishes, red and white / Carrots are calling. Take a bite!" stuck in your head.

- I learned about TableTopics (Family Edition) from my friend Lecia, and I like it so much that I’m giving it to two families on my list this year.

- Once, while visiting a friend who was living in London, I bought a small white enamel saucepan at Labour and Wait, and even though it really is very small and is technically intended, I think, for warming milk, I use it nearly every day, for everything.  I use to to cook small amounts of pasta or frozen peas for June. I use it to warm soup for my lunch.  I use it to brown butter, because the white enamel surface allows me to easily gauge the butter’s color. It might be my favorite single piece of cooking equipment. And the other day, I saw one exactly like it (except pale blue, not white) at Provisions, Food52’s online shop. Wahooooo! Here it is, what they are calling a blue enamel porridge pot. Whatever you call it, it’s great.

- Last but not least, this year I’m giving a number of gift certificates to favorite restaurants, mostly small, independently owned places, the kind that I like best.  I like the idea of giving someone an experience, and who doesn’t want a nice meal out, one that’s already (at least partially) paid for? So far, our family and friends are getting gift certificates to Contigo, State Bird Provisions, Buvette, and Dirt Candy. (I should also add that Delancey and Essex now have a brand-new, fancy-schmancy, letterpressed gift certificate. Again, word up, Sam! And Lisa!)

And with that, I think I’m finished spoiling all of my holiday surprises.  I hope you’re having a great weekend.


Anonymous Emma said...

Is that Arthur's seat in Edinburgh in the top photo? So wonderful that Delancey is in the final stages! I can't wait.

10:37 PM, December 07, 2013  
Anonymous Didi said...

The apron looks so chic and yet comfy! Its so difficult to find a really good apron that's both delivers the function and has form. This one does it! I hate the ties of the apron at the back and sometimes on the neck. totally annoying

10:42 PM, December 07, 2013  
Blogger zozo said...

I'm usually not into those gift guides myself but yours has useful things! I love the apron and enamel pan :)
atelier zozo

12:04 AM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Christophe said...

Always with the pointing... x

2:36 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Jennifer Jo said...

I've been using an Aeropress for years now. I took it with me to Guatemala and it saved my life. Or at least my mornings.

3:53 AM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Katie said...

I received one of those aprons last Christmas and it is the best! I wear it for all kinds of household tasks -- not just cooking, but also cleaning, doing crafts with the kids, etc. -- so it's like my very own comfy grown-up smock. I'm going to add some Marge granola (gluten-free, yippee!) to my own wish list. Thanks for the excellent suggestions.

4:06 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger E. Angelina said...

What a lovely list, and so helpful, I could not resist buying...


4:13 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Thanks for the tips! I'm looking forward to Delancey, too, and plan to give it to several pals _next_ Christmas!

7:28 AM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Kate said...

I adore the soft, sensitive quality of your photos, and the unstudied messiness of them. The one of your cocktail by the sink, and the soft focus picture of the trees through the window blinds... they remind me of the spaces of my own life, and the familiarly fleeting moments they contain. You don't arrange, you capture (in photos, writing and recipes), and it's what keeps me coming back to this blog.

8:22 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Rebeca said...

Thank you Molly. My difficult-to-shop-for husband's birthday is on Wednesday and I was stumped about what to get him. This post reminded me that he had mentioned wanting a good sturdy apron for the kitchen (he is an adherent of Vikram Vij and makes curries for our family from time to time) so I showed him the men's ones from Kanso Aprons and he likes them! Birthday dilemma solved.

9:22 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger whitneybee said...

Perfect timing! I just ordered the AeroPress for the gift exchange we do with my husband's coffee-loving family.

9:53 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Megan Gordon said...

Thank you, thank you for including Marge. xox

9:59 AM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to mention Megan's new cookbook Whole-Grain Mornings!!

10:13 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Linda said...

The porridge pot is out of stock, but I've bookmarked it. Very cool. I've had Chantal enamel pots for 25 years and love them, but don't have anything this small.

We all know that radiation is heading to the West Coast from Japan. Is Ricardo checking for it? This whole issue is such a tragedy. I won't buy tuna anymore and even Alaskan wild salmon is at risk.

The apron is also bookmarked! I could see taking one and embellishing it to make it mine.

Hope you all have a wonder-filled holiday season!

10:26 AM, December 08, 2013  
OpenID girlseeksplace said...

Such fun photos. That ginger beer looks amazing.

11:05 AM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Susan said...

Loved your share and good luck with the final stages of the book. I loved your first book and am really looking forward to this next one! Happy holidays to you and your sweet family!

1:21 PM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Patricia Hwang said...

What a lovely list! What other gift guides have you enjoyed reading?

2:13 PM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Bridget Blair said...

I'm sure the enamel pot is by Reiss...they are absolutely gorgeous and I MAy be getting something else from their range this Christmas.....well, when I say MAY....I should...my hints were not of the subtle variety.

I love their cookware too....loving the blue and mint green....

2:24 PM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Leah Johnson said...

Love this! Thank you Molly for including thoughtful and affordable items that we know can support creative and hardworking companies! Most gift guides I've seen are so overpriced and impersonal I don't give them a second look but these are lovely! Also, if you'd like to read an insightful and spiritual poem written by my mom about the overkill of holiday shopping advertisements, you will enjoy this: http://threewaylight.blogspot.com/2013/12/ad-vent.html?m=1

3:07 PM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Ellen said...

Since only 14 people have commented so far, I reckon I have a chance of you seeing this before you glaze over. Just a quick and sincere thank you for your sweet and genuine writings. This post is strangely calming, considering it has to do with gift suggestions and "Christmas frenzy" comes to mind. But each item was reasonable and useful and your descriptions make me want to put them on MY list. Even though I don't drink coffee. Or live in Seattle.
Thank you, Molly.

3:20 PM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous wanderingeducators said...

i remember those aprons from living in japan - they are AWESOME! thanks for this wonderful list - much appreciated!

5:28 PM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Aimee said...

I ordered an apron! It is perfect for the Montessori class, my pockets are constantly overflowing with little bits and pieces that I pick up as I move thought the room.

6:09 PM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Marin said...

Oh my goodness!!! I live in Tahoe, I cant't believe you came here! I love Spilled M. and your blog. If you are in Tahoe again make sure you go to free bird and drink a dirty chai latte, they are the best! I also recommend sugar pine bakery!

7:34 PM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous ellie said...

thanks for this, really makes my day!

8:26 PM, December 08, 2013  
Blogger Gemma said...

Those aprons look great - I own about 3 aprons but never wear one because they don't sit quite right. maybe these are the answer...

3:50 AM, December 09, 2013  
Anonymous Kristin said...

Arthur's Seat?! We saw a hawk chase a mouse on that road. The mouse ran under a parked car, but wasn't smart enough to stay there! Love your gift ideas!

5:00 AM, December 09, 2013  
Blogger Rocky Mountain Woman said...

lovely suggestions! those aprons are perfect for about three people on my list...

11:40 AM, December 09, 2013  
Anonymous June2 said...

Seconding everyone else's appreciation of the perfectly curated suggestions - really, all so good! And your employees (former) are amazing - wow.

1:20 PM, December 09, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how does one purchase one of these new fancy Delancey gift certificates if they do not live in Seattle?

8:28 PM, December 09, 2013  
Blogger Kezia said...

I can't believe I've lived in London my whole life and never heard of Labour and Wait! I've just spent way to long on their gorgeous website and am planning a visit for this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

12:25 AM, December 10, 2013  
Blogger Lea Ehret said...

My niece is going to love Rah, Rah, Radishes. Thanks for the tip!

2:12 PM, December 10, 2013  
Blogger AuntieAllyn said...

MUST HAVE at least one of those aprons!!! Thanks for sharing with us!

2:30 PM, December 10, 2013  
Anonymous Lori B said...

What about your book? I bought it for myself last month and have made about a third of the recipes, they all rock! I am giving a few of those goodies as holiday gifts. My kitchen is overflowing with fruit nut balls which are disappearing rapidly each evening at famiily tea time. I will be picking up a few more copies of the book to give out as gifts. Thanks for putting so much of yourself into this book, it is really wonderful!

5:24 PM, December 10, 2013  
Anonymous Chris said...

Went to buy an apron but the black/blue version only comes in the man's model which I'm afraid would be too roomy for cooking.
It says there is small and regular but when you click to order it does not ask you a size.Molly...do you wear the man's version? Women's aprons were only red and striped.

1:03 AM, December 11, 2013  
Blogger Pamela said...

I have a nephew who's around the same age as June, so I hopped right over to Amazon to buy that book for him! So excited to read it with him, thank you!

11:06 AM, December 11, 2013  
Blogger MommyG said...

Very cool apron! Also looking forward to your next book, because the first one was amazing!


1:46 PM, December 11, 2013  
Anonymous Joan-Marie said...

Great call on the Aeropress. My husband and live on our sailboat in Mexico and actually have two (one as a back up). They are very affordable and combined with our Hario grinder, it makes the best coffee.

3:17 PM, December 11, 2013  
Blogger Molly said...

Thanks for the great feedback, all! To answer a couple of questions:

Anonymous, you can purchase a Delancey/Essex gift certificate by calling 206.838.1960. We'd be happy to take your credit card information over the phone and then pop the gift certificate in the mail to you.

Chris, sadly, I think they must have run out of the women's black denim ones! Maybe drop them an e-mail and inquire about it?

2:03 PM, December 12, 2013  
Anonymous Karen White said...

Snap to Kezia above in that i'm in the UK and have never heard of Labour and Wait. I'm happy to see that they still have that little pan - 'must have' for me. I love many of your gift ideas but sadly most aren't available in the UK. Luckily I have the best ginger beer this side of the pond in Fentimans The sea salt sounds divine, as does the granola but again, not in the UK *sigh* Note that many of these items are going on my wish list but I will be buying some for others too.
Btw, I am contemplating making you white chocolate coeur a la creme as an alternative Christmas dessert. I'm going to serve it with preserved Italian Wild Amarena Cherries. Can't wait.
Your new book is on my wish list too (has been for a while) so don't put off that proof reading for too long :o)

2:38 PM, December 13, 2013  
Blogger Kody said...

Wow. Small world. My son is an artist in residence at Pottery Northwest, and I'm a fan of yours from Arkansas. When worlds collide!

10:46 AM, December 18, 2013  
Anonymous Kelly said...

This isn't a comment about this post in particular, I just wanted to say, though, that your recipes never fail me. Whenever I want something delicious and comforting, I turn to your archive. I made your split pea soup this evening, and that cabbage soup is on my list. Thank you for putting your stories and recipes out there for all of us.

6:55 PM, December 19, 2013  
Blogger Toof said...

I'd like to add that while Kenji can no longer fill orders by Christmastime on Etsy for those stellar aprons, you can still find a few men's and women's in the ID at MOMO (if you happen to live in Seattle, that is). Also, Molly, I'm having the hardest time getting a certificate from Buvette! The website store seems glitchy and I'm sure I'll never get anyone to answer the phone. I'd like one for a dear sweet french foodie friend who lives in NY. She just had a dreadful breakup and I know she'd love this place. Any tips??

5:49 PM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will Delancy the book contain recipes to the dough from Delancy the restaurant?

12:37 PM, December 27, 2013  
Blogger khám nam khoa trung tâm said...

I've been using an Aeropress for years now. I took it with me to Guatemala and it saved my life. Or at least my mornings.

rac thai

7:26 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Stacey said...

I like your Edinburgh photos - first and last, right? :) We just got back on January 5th.

2:08 PM, January 24, 2014  

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