The Blue Collar Foodie’s Top 5 Foodie Gifts under $30

Top 5 Foodie Gifts

‘Tis the season of yule tide cheer fueled by Spiked Eggnog, lighting the menorah, hopefully this one, and decorating your house and Christmas tree like a Griswold, in an attempt to be the first house to be seen from outer space. Unfortunately this time of year also signifies the dreaded anxiety disorder that is caused by the commercialization of the holiday season, known as giftphobia. The symptoms of this common ailment include procrastination, stagnation, agitation and overall aggravation.

Lucky for you, I am here to help!  If you have a foodie in your life that you need to purchase a gift for this year for Christma-Hanu-Rama-Ka-Dona-Kwanzaa, have no fear, the Blue Collar Foodie is here.  The following in no particular order are my Top 5 Foodie Gifts under $30 bucks for this holiday season!

#5:Cast Iron Skillet

Cast Iron Pan

Cast Iron Pan

Most of you are thinking, “A pan? Really? That is about as exciting as a lecture on the French Revolution taught by a one armed mime,” which by the way is equal to monotone in the speaking world. I would have agreed with you five years ago, that is until I received this supernatural gift from a foodie friend of mine and it changed my culinary prowess.

This remarkable cast iron cooking device, which has been used for hundreds of years, is not just a pan, but it is a paradigm shifting scientific instrument that will forever change the way your friend cooks protein. Instead of frying a steak leaving it oily and tasteless or cooking it on a sheet pan leaving it dried and stringy, now your friend will be cooking their steak using the same method as countless high end steak houses. This pan is so important it was the star of Season 1 Episode 1 of Alton Brown’s show Good Eats. You can ask Kat, it cooks the steaks to a perfect succulent medium every time with a seared outer layer that locks in the flavor.

Steak Cooked In Cast Iron

Steak Cooked In Cast Iron

One thing to remember though is that not only is cast iron different from all other pots and pans in the way it cooks; it is also different in how it is maintained. It is not hard to take care of cast iron but I suggest forwarding the following links to your friend as part of his/her present, to ensure his/her new pan lasts for generations.

First and foremost the cast iron pan must be seasoned before using it, most companies state that the pan is pre-seasoned, but I don’t cook on anything until I wash it and once you wash it you have ruined the seasoning. Secondly, the pan has a specific cooking method that is somewhat counter intuitive and downright incredible. Finally, the pan is not cleaned with soap but salt, which most people would never think of. If your friend follows these steps he/she will be cooking steaks and chops using this method for years to come, and I bet you get a few tasty steaks out of the deal as well.

#4:Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen

Gear for your kitchen

Doc Brown’s Book

If you have read this blog before you know damn well that I am all about Dr. Alton Brown, and yes I did just give him an Honorary doctorate because if Mike, “I eat ears” Tyson has one, Mr. Brown should have one too! For my younger readers, the gift I just mentioned above is a book, I know you have only probably seen them in a book museum, or library, as us old folks call them, but back in the day these archaic artifacts made of paper and ink were given as presents all the time.

I understand that cookbooks are antiquated and generally useless since any and all recipes your friend could potentially want/need are easily found on the Googles. This book, however, is not full of boring old recipes but of inspiring foodie science. Alton Brown discusses not only what gear you should have in your kitchen, but in true Alton Brown fashion, why you should have these items. There is also an entire section of the book devoted to getting rid of needless kitchen items, which is great for us that have a rather small kitchen.

Kitchen Clutter

Kitchen Clutter

I recommend this book for the gadget oriented foodie who buys every new cooking device that hits the market. It is difficult to buy something for this type of person because you never know what they have hiding in their drawers and cupboards. Dr. Brown explains every aspect of cooking in detail in this well written book complete with hundreds of illustrations, that, if I could, I would go back in time at 88mph and would read it much sooner than I did.  (If you got that joke you are reading the right blog.)

#3:Digital In-Oven Thermometer

Digital Cooking Thermometer

Digital Cooking Thermometer

If you have ever served under cooked meals, by accident of course, to any of your houseguests, you will fully understand the necessity of this kitchen gadget. This thermometer is literally the gift that keeps on giving every time you insert the probe into any type of meat. (That’s what she said.)

Armed with this device your now well-equipped foodie friend will be able to follow the mantra of late night infomercial lore, set it and forget it!  Once the probe is inserted into the protein, this magical little object will allow you to keep your oven closed while your meal is cooked to the perfect temperature every time, leaving you free to cook the rest of your meal and drink a beer or two with your guests.

Cooked Steak

This Steak Is Done Man

Although the standalone Meat Thermometer is an great addition to any kitchen, if you really want to spoil your foodie friend, get him/her a Thermometer with a remote receiver that allows the chef to roam around the house while being able to check the temperature of his/her concoction which is wirelessly transmitted throughout the house to the remote device.  This is the one that I have, and I now I could never live without it.

#2:Cookie Cooling Rack

Cooling Racks for Bacon

Cooling Racks for Bacon

Wait! Wait! Wait! Come back, at least let me explain. I know that a cooling rack for cookies does not sound like it would make anyone sing out Fa La La La La, but what if I told you it was not cookies at all, but it was for bacon!  Not only is it for bacon, but it is for crispy, perfectly cooked, uncurled, porkgasm inducing strips of yummy delicious salty goodness, unlike any other bacon he/she has ever cooked before.

This gift like others in this list, and of course the Transformers, is more than meets the eye. You are not only buying your foodie friend a cooling rack, you are buying them the gift of properly cooked bacon. Once you see the method to this madness you will join the oven cooked bacon cult and most likely purchase yourself a drying cooling rack immediately. Watch this video that explains the cooking method and you will realize that this gift is a necessity for anyone who believes that swine is simply divine.

Bacon Cooked Properly

Mmmmmmmm. BACON!

Since the racks are only $10, might I suggest going to your local butcher shop or pork store and procuring (see what I did there) a pound of bacon to accompany this thoughtful foodie gift. Then make sure you invite yourself over for brunch one day and sample the perfectly cooked bacon that was all because of your gift. Remember friends don’t let friends improperly cook bacon.

#1:Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand

Belkin Kitchen Stand

Belkin Kitchen Stand

If your foodie friend happens to be a bit of a geek like me, a gift that combines their affinity towards technology and their love for all things food couldn’t be more perfect. Enter, the Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand for Tablets. This kitchen gadget allows the tech savvy foodie to utilize their tablet/iPad in the kitchen without smearing salmonella all over the screen.  This simple device is designed to hold your friend’s recipe wielding tablet upright so he/she can read it while he/she works in the kitchen, without pausing every 12 seconds to wash up. Furthermore the wand, which in the muggle world is called a stylus, is washable so it can be handled with their gooey hands without spreading mad cow disease to their entire family, thus causing the Zombie Apocalypse that we all know is coming.

This gift is not only on my Christmas list but I will be giving a few to my foodie friends this year as well.  As of right now my tablet stand is named Kat and the stylus she uses is the same finger that is usually pointed in my direction after I bellow from across the house to get her to assist me in the kitchen.

BONUS: Whiskey Stones

Whiskey Stones

Whiskey Stones

After a long day in the kitchen fighting with the aforementioned gadgets and gizmos, it is always nice to sit down after a long meal with my remote control and a glass of Single Malt Scotch. I don’t think I am alone in thinking this, so if you can’t decide what to buy your foodie friend or he/she has everything that is listed above, I suggest a package of whiskey stones and nice scotch glass.

These stones are usually hand crafted out of 100% soap stone and are designed to slightly cool your adult beverage to below room temperature to allow the flavors to open up in the glass.  Ice tends to water down good Scotch and a watered down good Scotch is bad! If your foodie friend seems to be a connoisseur of fine Whiskey, Scotch, or Bourbon then this may be just the right present for him/her.  If your friend drinks Georgia Moon Corn Whisky Moonshine from the Jar, I don’t think they will appreciate these.

Moonshine

Granny approved moonshine

If you followed the links that I provided for each item you may have recognized a common thread, Amazon.com. Although, once upon a time, I was a Mall Rat, I cannot stand the malls during the holiday season. As Kat would say, “It makes me want to punch babies.” Kat and I either shop on Amazon.com to take advantage of their super cool free shipping, which all the items above are eligible for by the way, or we shop locally.  However you decide to shop, I hope this little gift giving guide helped make your holiday season a little easier.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my subscribers, readers, followers, and Facebook friends for stopping by and reading my blog. I enjoy writing this article immensely and every time I see a comment or a new Facebook like it makes me smile. I want to truly wish you and your family all a happy and safe holiday season and may all your foodie dreams come true.

Happy Holidays from Dog

Happy Holidays from Dog and I

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Before The Impending Porkcalypse, Follow The Blue Collar Foodie to The Swiss Pork Store For Oktoberfest

     As a self-proclaimed foodie and bacon aficionado it is about time that I bring up a place that is very near and dear to me.  Not only is this shop located minutes away from my house in Fair Lawn, but the mere smell of this brilliant store makes me smile. The boutique that makes this Blue Collar Foodie enter a dream world tantamount to Willy Wonka’s factory, only instead of chocolate it is full of wondrous meaty goodness, is none other than The Swiss Pork Store, located at 24-10 Fair Lawn Avenue, Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

The Swiss Pork store is what Disneyland is to children for carnivorous foodies all across Bergen County and beyond. Their motto, which is extremely apropos, is, “We’re Not Just Pork,” and they are not kidding. Their packaged goods menu reads like a who’s who of foods that one needs to try before they die. They are a one stop shop for all things meat and then some.

Some of the best homemade sausages in the state, if not the planet, can be found at the Swiss Pork Store, and just in time for your very own Oktoberfest. You can buy Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Bockwurst, Bauernwurst, Knockwurst and pretty much any other damn wurst that is known to man. On top of that they offer frankfurters with or without skin for anyone who feels somewhat inadequate when eating a large sausage, TWSS. You also never know what type of specialty sausages the mad men at the Swiss Pork Store are going to concoct on any given day, so I suggest stopping by and taking a peek before making up your mind, you might end up leaving with a Jalapeno and Cheddar Wurst that would make Oscar Mayer cry himself to sleep.

The Swiss Pork Store also doubles as a full-fledged butcher as well. Although their fresh prime meats are rather expensive, ask before you buy, they are well worth the price. You can acquire chop meat that is unlike no other in the beef, veal, pork, or lamb varieties to create awe-inspiring meatballs or hamburgers. The steaks they offer compare to any of the steaks that I have paid triple for at a high end steak house in New York City, and you can choose between any cut, including porterhouse, shell, skirt, and NY strip.  If you are feeling one of the white meats they can also carve your choice of Chicken and Pork in a variety of different cuts.  If you are feeling a little frisky though, you can choose something a little more obscure to don your dinner table and go with their veal or lamb. Whatever you choose I assure you, you will not be disappointed, or at least I have never been.

     Not sold yet?  Well, I am about to make the boldest statement that this Blue Collar Foodie has ever put in print, and if this statement does not make you get into your car and drive to the Swiss Pork Store immediately, I am not sure we can be Facebook Friends anymore. Ready?  You might want to sit down.  Are you sitting?  THE SWISS PORK STORE SELLS THE BEST BACON YOU WILL EVER TASTE! There, I said it, and I mean it. I have somewhat of a Bacon addiction as any of my followers know from previous posts, and I must tell you, with 100 percent certainty, this bacon could seriously create peace in the Middle East and it could make North Koreans and South Koreans hug it out. In fact, I have it on good authority that Roger Goodell and the Referees for the NFL, sat down and ate this Bacon on Wednesday night just before they settled the lockout. Alright maybe none of that is true, but I am serious, this is really good bacon!
     If everything you have just read did not convert you into a Swiss Pork Store customer, which does not bode well for our friendship status I might add, I present to you the following. Not only can you procure some of the finest uncooked goods in the land, you can also find remarkable homemade cold cuts for purchase by the pound or, unbeknownst to most, on a fresh made sandwich, that can only be described as simply divine. I suggest trying the Veal Loaf, which is scrumptious, but you can stay within your comfort zone as well and try the smoked in-house ham, salami, and turkey, or you can go completely off the rails and sink your teeth into their famous head cheese, blood & tongue loaf, or liverwurst.  Creating a sandwich at the Swiss Pork Store is always an adventure and the best part is there is always a happy ending, get your mind out of the gutter people; I am talking about a full stomach.  Furthermore, instead of the horribly unhealthy fries that any run of the mill burger joint will pair up your lunch with, the Swiss Pork Store has a huge selection of cold salads which Kat fiends for like a pregnant lady craves ice cream and pickles.

Whether you are looking for packaged goods, including imported candy and European Groceries as well, to take home to feed your family or a sandwich on the go to feed your face, The Swiss Pork has it all.  From the second I walked into this place and was greeted with a smile and slice of veal loaf, I fell in love.  The people that work the counter here are always extremely helpful and have tremendous knowledge about the magnificent product that they sell. So don’t be shy when you give the Swiss Pork Store a whirl, and ask some questions, they will be happy to answer them and steer you in the right direction!