Zyliss Garlic Press

It’s easy to go through a garlic press a year, because most of them just aren’t built to last. They’re designed with weak hinges, chipable chrome and little cleaning tools that never really get into those tiny holes, leaving you with post-dishwasher garlic stucco in your press. Now I know, it could be argued that any self-respecting cook should avoid garlic presses like Bisquick, that the only way to show garlic the love it deserves is to chop it by hand. Maybe it’s just me and my freakishly porous skin, but this method leaves my fingers smelling like salami for days. So critics be damned, I found a wonderful garlic press, the Susi by the Swiss company Zyliss. Compact and sleek, lacking the bulky design of so many of its peers, the aluminum press had me at hello when I realized how perfectly it can be operated with one hand. It retails at around $15 and has the capacity to fit a couple of cloves at once. It’s not going to last you a lifetime (few presses will), but it’s been a good friend of mine for about five years until its finish recently wore away and it began to turn my garlic black with aluminum smudges. But truly, this isn’t a deal-breaker. I’m going to buy myself an identical replacement, because I’ve crunched the numbers, and since this thing has been so useful for half a decade, I’ve had perfectly pressed garlic and salami-free hands for about three dollars a year. Not too shabby.

A Binder Even More Useful than your Old Ghostbusters Trapper Keeper

If you like Cook’s Illustrated magazine, you will adore The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Ring-bound like a binder and separated into easy-to-turn-to tabbed sections like “Poultry,” “Rice and Grains” and “Appetizers,” the book has become one of my new favorites. It’s filled with over 1,200 simple, easy to follow recipes, none of which make any claim to be fancy, but all of which have been “kitchen-tested” and Christopher Kimball approved. In typical America’s Test Kitchen fashion, it will instruct you on making the perfect mashed potatoes, flawless meatballs, and macaroni and cheese worthy of a Throwdown with Bobby Flay (though he would surely put chipotle in his). The book contains some true gems, including the best teriyaki recipe I’ve ever come across and a skillet lasagna that will rock your socks off.
Priced at $34.95.

The Joys of Joy

No home cook should be without The Joy of Cooking. It would be like a writer who doesn’t own a dictionary, a fourth grader without Charlotte’s Web, a Baptist without a Bible. If I could only save one cookbook from a kitchen fire, it would be The Joy of Cooking. It’s packed with recipes that you use as a foundation for designing your own recipes and continues to be a daily reference for what’s cooking in my kitchen. It’s not full of fashionable dishes and in terms of recipes from around the world, you’ll find mostly the basics (moussaka, pad Thai, Bolognese), but it’s more about the fundamentals. Sometimes I forget how much water I need to cook my oatmeal. Sometimes I need a tutorial when it comes to cuts of meat and cooking temperatures. And I always go to the same batter-encrusted, wrinkly page for the basic pancake recipe, even though I’ve been making pancakes since I was about 10. Updated and reworked several times over the years, Joy is what my mom used, and it’s the first cookbook I ever bought for my very first apartment. I still use that same copy from long ago, though the binding is now completely split and the alphabetized index page that features cherries, chicken and chocolate seems to be M.I.A., but it’s just a symptom of how loved it has been over the years, how I’ve repeatedly turned to the same pages for blondies, pizza dough and biscuits. We go way back, the two of us, and even though I’ve seen shinier editions with spiral binding and glossy book jackets, I’m going to stick with my old friend, who has never been anything but good to me.
Priced at $35.00.

Sakura, Williston

Walk into Sakura in Williston, and you will not be impressed. Hell, walk up to Sakura and you might want to flee before even opening the front door. Located in a strip mall at Taft Corners, the Japanese eatery will not wow you with its drab, dingy, basement-style decor, but what it lacks in fashionable ambiance, it more than makes up for in fresh, memorable food. Read more

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