I gravitate towards earthy, handmade things in the fall, especially rustic mugs and hand-thrown pottery pieces like this utensil jar. This one, though, has a peppy, poppy punch of color with bright blue curlicues and a black stripe. It's earthy but modern. A great little utensil jar or vase for the kitchen.
Are clouds replacing birds as the hipster motif of choice? I don't know, but I really like this sweet bread board, which has a little whimsy in its puffy shape, but is still practical for bread and cheese.
If you're getting seriously enthusiastic about homemade pasta and want to progress past hand-cut noodles and rolled lasagna sheets, this pasta extruder from KitchenAid is your next step. This gadget is wicked fun. It's basically like those old Play-Doh sets where you can extrude shapes of dough. This comes with several different plates that let you make bucatini, rigatoni, macaroni, fusilli, and more. I do think the price is a little steep, but I can't fault the attachment's quality in any way. It's solidly built, simple to operate, and easy to clean. See our full review of it here...
I never thought I wanted a pasta cutter, but then I watched a pro cut out little agnolotti during my visit to the Culinary Institute of America, and just like that, I wanted my own little fluted wheel. This one is a smart combo of a straight bladed wheel, and a fluted wheel. It's useful for trimming pasta shapes and sheets, and for cutting out and crimping pastry dough, too.
• $3.49 for 26.46 oz (prices may vary at your supermarket)
There are a couple of reasons that I often buy Pomi tomatoes: They're packaged in BPA-free Tetra Paks, and they're low in sodium. I do find that they are very juice, with less tomato "meat" than some of the other canned brands I buy. (Check out the first review of these on Amazon to see an in-depth look at this.) But I don't mind this juiciness when using them for stew-y pasta sauces. They have a very bright, fresh flavor, too.
When eating pasta, which do you prefer, plate or bowl? I like the shallow bowls that fall halfway between bowl and plate, gently curved for noodles but not too deep. This bowl from Global Table is a perfect example, and I love how the rope image echoes the way strands of noodles fall.
You don't have to have a pasta maker to make homemade pasta. But it sure does make it fun! I use one of these classic roller pasta machines, and it's a simple, well-made object. The key to rolling out pasta dough is having good dough without air bubbles. But the heavy rollers and sharp blades on this machine hold up their end. It's a good price, too, for all the kitchen fun that comes with rolling out your own homemade pasta dough.
I finally upgraded my mismatched plastic storageware to this set of Snapware glass containers. And I love them! I've been using them for at least a year now. They are tempered glass, so they don't break easily, and the lids fit so tightly I wouldn't hesitate to stick a covered bowl of soup in my handbag. The first few times you use them, the lids are actually quite difficult to snap on. But break them in just a little and they're perfect.
Classic restaurant dishes were designed for extra durability (all that clattering into bus tubs and sliding down coffeeshop counters). These small bouillon cups are my idea ramekin. Solid and durable, and good for sauces, dips, prepped ingredients and, of course, a little sip of soup.
This is a great little pot for small batches of soup, and also for small-batch canning. (Read Marisa McClellan on why this pot is so great for urban preserving.) This pot is tall and skinny, so it fits even on your smallest burner. It has a lot packed into its little package, too, like a pour spout, a steamer basket, silicone-covered handle, and holes in the lid to make straining that much easier.
Halloween is fast approaching, and I'm always on the lookout for cheerily spooky treats - nothing too gory or scary. These beaker cookie cutters fit the bill, so fun to decorate with chartreuse bubbles and purple goo.
I've shown you Sofia Whiddon's beautiful prints before, and I just got an email from her about her new designs for 2013. This gorgeous calendar has 12 images inspired by close-up views of different mushrooms. I love the way their textures ripple across the pages.
I met the folks from FREUD at the Housewares show in Chicago a couple years ago, and I was really taken by their line of chrome and wood accessories for coffee, tea, and the table. (See my full post on them from the show here.) This pepper mill has a nice design - you turn it upside down to grind, so any pepper dust stays inside doesn't fall out when you put the grinder down. Oh, and it looks really nice on the table too!
I received a bottle of this balsamic vinegar as a gift last Christmas, and I'm only 2/3 of the way through its generous depth. It's sweet, but not syrupy - a mature, delicious vinegar for salad dressings and more. A great buy, for the price.
At my cookbook photo shoot this past spring, the prop stylist used a huge old pizza pan as a photography surface, and I loved it. It had a beautiful antique patina, and it would have made a great platter or centerpiece. I'm on the hunt for one now, and the closest thing I've found so far are these vintage German pizza pans. They're 20 to 24 inches in diameter, and about 50 years old. Great for appetizer platters, menu chalkboards, or, you know, serving pizza.
• $5 at grocery stores; $19.77 for 4-pack at Amazon
I go through a lot of parchment paper - its's so useful for so many things. Lining pans, making loose lids for poaching vegetables and chicken. But I use it perhaps the most for pizza. I build pizzas on squares of parchment, then use it to slide the pizza in and out of the hot oven. I use this brand the most - it's not too stiff, which I like.
If you make pizza regularly, a pizza peel can be very helpful. It makes the process of transferring a fully topped pizza onto a blazing hot pizza stone in the oven. I especially like these aluminum pizza peels, with their thin edge that makes that little swoop and slide that much easier.
These Demeyere pans are pretty dreamy. Expensive, yes, but perfectly built and engineered to the last inch. Highlights: Constructed with five-ply 3mm-thick aluminum and aluminum-alloy core, so they heat evenly. A tight-fitting lid that's easy to handle but fits perfectly. Sur La Table sent me a piece to try out last spring, and I've used it regularly, but the silver finish on the pan hasn't discolored or stained in the least. It's very nice to look at it, to use, and to clean. If I could, I'd stock up on a few more pieces.
Sizes: 1.5 qt to 4 qt. Suitable for use on all cooktops, in the oven up to 600°F, and under the broiler. Dishwasher safe (hand wash recommended). Made in Belgium.
Yesterday Carrie pointed out this great collaboration between Fishs Eddy and the designer Lotta Jansdotter. I've long been a fan of Jansdotter's Scandinavian-inspired designs for the home (especially her linens and bags), and I am really liking this modestly-priced collection in shades of blues and teals. I especially like this pretty platter, with poppies and curves.