In his book about the evolution of the American kitchen, Steven Gdula refers to his family’s kitchen as “the warmest room in the house”. Not simply from the workings of the stove and oven but as the social center of a happy home, one suffused with familial warmth and good humor shared over a hearty meal. Especially poignant during the holiday season, the kitchen serves as a hospitable space for family and good friends, a place to exercise our primitive instincts to gather and prepare food for the ones we love. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, we've selected a few essentials that second as perfect holiday gifts.
HAND TURNED COOKING IMPLEMENTS
Classic hardwood cooking implements hand turned in Brookfield CT – an ebony basting brush, the perfect muddler, and their lesser known companion, the spurtle. The spurtle is a Scotch stirring utensil used for making porridge that dates back to the 15th Century. Because of its cylindrical shape, the Spurtle allows the oats to be stirred without the dragging effect of the head of a wooden spoon. Not only does this prevent lumps, the Spurtle’s smaller surface area also prevents the Porridge from sticking to it. The benefits of porridge are myriad and pretty surprising. That oats can reduce the risk of diabetes, aid the libido, quell hangovers, heal the skin, pep up the immune system, tackle obesity, counter depression, reduce blood pressure and aid pregnancy are only a few of the claims in its favor (and let's face it, if it even just does a couple of those we'll eat more of it.). Interesting side note – legend has it that when using a spurtle you must always stir clockwise and always with your right hand "lest you invoke the devil". Fair warning... Though controversy rages on this front, we have it on good authority that the correct way to hold your spurtle is with the shaped end in your hand and the smooth rounded end placed in the Porridge. Also great for soups and sauces.
JACOB MAY BUTCHER BLOCK
Solid walnut, end-grain butcher block finished with mineral oil and beeswax by Oakland-based Jacob May. Founded by woodworker and designer Dave Ball, the company specializes in producing classic American furniture and furnishings that are simple, elegant and built to last for generations. Each piece from the Jacob May studio is hand-made in Ball's Oakland studio with domestically sourced materials. Jacob May butcher blocks are exceptional because of his close attention to the patterns of the wood. "I take the time to read the grain of the wood and layout the pieces intentionally to create the intricate, flowing patterns. To get the patterns I have to do several extra steps, each of which require great precision, that are not involved in making other cutting boards. Through experience I have developed the ability to predict which strips of wood will have the most consistent details and I know where and in which orientation to place them throughout the board to create the most pleasing effects."
SAMUJI BERRY BOWL
Hand glazed red clay bowl with swirling grass green accents. Crafted and fired in Finland by the design house Samuji. Inspired by simple, craftsmen made, traditional housewares from all over the world, Samuji's ambition is to produce timeless and sustainable design that serves a purpose and carries a story.