There are only 40 shopping days until Christmas. Which seems like a lot. But so many of the stores are already bedecked with snowflakes and Santas that we're beginning to think in terms of presents and wish lists. Their insidious plot is working!
Besides, there are only 17 shopping days until the start of Hanukkah.
So if you're looking for a gift for the cook who has everything, perhaps you could try yet another cookbook.
A lot of serious cooks are also serious cookbook collectors, and who wouldn't appreciate a handsomely bound collection of locally developed recipes?
Any number of churches and local ethnic organizations have published cookbooks stuffed full of cherished recipes from their members' kitchens. You can look for any of those or, if you can wait until tomorrow, you can buy the brand new re-release of Art Fare, the award-winning cookbook first published 10 years ago by what was then called the Toledo Museum of Art Aides.
Elegantly laid out and photographed (by Jim Rohman), the book presents more than 200 recipes shared by the fund-raising group now known as the Toledo Museum of Art Ambassadors, recipes ranging from Asparagus Flan to Chinese Chicken Salad to Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger Shiitake Sauce.
The book costs $30 and will be available from the museum's bookstore and from the Ambassadors themselves.
To whet your appetite, as they say, here is a sample recipe:
1 (8-ounce) jar Dijon mustard
1/2 cup plain yogurt
16 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup butter (2/3 stick)
1 cup currant jelly
1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
Preheat the oven to 325. Combine the mustard and yogurt in a bowl and mix well. Brush both sides of the chicken with the mustard mixture. Coat with bread crumbs. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Top each half with 1 teaspoon of the butter.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Meanwhile, combine the jelly, orange juice concentrate, dry mustard, Tabasco sauce, and ginger powder in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer until time to serve. Drizzle over the chicken or serve on the side.
Yield: 12 servings
Butterball has its Turkey Hotline. And now Loews Hotels has a Wine Line.
If you are throwing a holiday dinner or party and you just don't know what wine goes with, oh, say, roast turkey, help is just a mouse-click away.
The upscale hotel chain's certified sommeliers will be on call to answer questions about which wines -- and from which vineyards -- pair best with the foods you plan to serve. The service runs now through Jan. 1, so nonturkey questions are welcome, too.
Just go to facebook.com/LoewsHotels and click on the Wine Line tab. There you can post your question and receive an answer within 24 hours.
Right now, the Wine Line offers a list of 12 specific budget-priced wines, explains their characteristics, and suggests foods that they might pair best with.
But be warned: Although the Loews' idea of a budget wine can run as low as $9 (Walnut Crest by Emiliana, Valle Central, Chile), it can also run as high as $28 (Geyser Peak "Walking Tree," Alexander Valley) or $38 for a champagne (Henriot Brut Souverain NV).
And by the way, they say that white wines go well with turkey, but you might also want to consider a pinot noir, which has a fuller flavor than whites but few tannins, so they will not overwhelm the meal.
OK, so if Butterball has a Turkey Hotline and Loews Hotels have a Wine Line, where can you go for recipes for the most ubiquitous of holiday treats, cookies?
Lots of places, frankly. Whole cookbooks are devoted to nothing but cookies -- and some to nothing but holiday cookies. But if you're looking for one place on the Internet for cookie recipes, especially cookie recipes with chocolate in them, you can now head to HersheysCookies.com. The site has a new place for home cooks to share cookie ideas and even cookie photos with each other.
On the same site, you can register for a sweepstakes for two $10,000 kitchen makeovers (one for you, one for a friend). That deadline is Jan. 15.
A more pressing deadline is tomorrow, when you have to register to be one of 1,000 possible hosts of a Hershey's-sponsored cookie exchange party. The winners will receive baking products, recipe booklets to share with their guests, and an apron for the host.
Of course, if the exchanged cookies are good enough, you can send recipes and even photos to the Web site.
Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.