Eating out with Max makes me nervous. Oh sure, we take him from time to time. I think it is important for him to have the experience, but I don’t enjoy myself the way I would if I didn’t have thoughts of epipens and having to treat a reaction in the back of my mind. Our experience this summer with him having to use the epipens after a restaurant meal only reinforced my reluctance. See Our Journey.
Alas, this is not to be a “poor me” post. On the contrary, I figure we save a ton of money by eating at home. Now, we may not have ever had “a ton” to start, but nonetheless whatever its flaws I have used this thinking to justify buying some way cool kitchen gadgets over the years. Some of my favorites are an electric steel fondue pot that I am happy to say was less than the cost of one trip to the Melting Pot, the popular fondue restaurant. We don’t live anywhere near the Melting Pot, and I’ve never been, although Gejas Cafe in Chicago is possibly my favorite restaurant of all time. Happily, the Melting Pot posts their menus with prices online making it easy to justify having the fondue pot shipped two-day delivery straight to our door. We use it to melt dairy-free chocolate chips, which are a bit on the pricey side, but again way less than the cost of a family dessert out. Remembering the price of the dessert at the restaurant, I will sometimes take it up to an even higher level and splurge on the fruit tray with the pre-cut fruit at the grocery store. See how this thinking works. <smile>
We also have a nifty new pizza stone (it’s our second) and a set of porcelain ramekins which are great from everything to making individual desserts to sorting toppings (green onions, salsa, jalepenos) for chili night thanks to this kind of thinking. The way I figure, it is just like how, at a restaurant, packaging matters (think about the fun box the happy meal comes in), how you present dinner can make a huge difference in how it’s perceived. I haven’t taken to handing out small toys designed to promote movies though — yet. You have to draw the line somewhere, I guess.
My favorite splurge though by far was a new dining room table. When we moved into our house, we had a perfect area in our family room/basement for an art area. I really wanted a table where we could leave out projects and also play games. We took our old dining room table and moved it down there and went shopping for a new everyday table for the kitchen. Jason had long had fond memories of a lazy susan his grandmother had on her table. I did think this sounded fun, and certainly had that on my short list of gadgets/kitchen purchases to buy again with the imagined savings from not eating out. When we found a close-out table with a turntable built in it seemed like fate wanted us to have the table. See, once you start rationalizing, it becomes almost second nature. The table as it turns out is not that practical. The chairs came with cloth seats, which with two messy eaters: well, let’s say we *had* to recover them, and the turntable broke after we set a watermelon on it one summer. Who knew? Still we had the table repaired and it does make dinner at home more fun when you can whirl the ketchup to your family member across the way. Maybe when the kids grow up instead of memories of their favorite restaurant they, like their dad, will have fond kitchen table memories.
Yet before I wade too far into nostalgia and future fantasy, I want to get to the real meaning of my post. My current wish list. Gadgets I have my eye on: These include the expensive like http://www.tandoors.com/tandoor_residential.php I am guessing the fact that you have to request a special price quote means I am going to have to do more than price out a meal at a few Indian restaurants to justify using the savings from not eating out to purchase this one. I like to dream big though.
Another perhaps more realistic gadget on my list is this checkerboard cake pan http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Checkerboard-Cake-1. How fun would that be for someone’s (cough I have a milestone, hello 1972) birthday coming up, but alas almost everyone in my family agrees that chocolate cake is the best. Still, maybe we could checkerboard with light and dark chocolate varieties. I resisted buying this in Kroger, our local grocery store, the other day when I first spotted it on an end display. When I went back a few days later, it was gone replaced with pink unicorns. Claire seemed to think purchasing the latter would make a much better justification, er in her case rationalization, of the savings of not eating out. Now that I have the link for the cake pan, see blogging is good, I may have to disagree.
Finally, I would love, love, love a food dehydrator like the Digital American Harvest. It comes with eight trays and is expandable to 30. It has 2400 rpm, which I don’t really understand, but it sounds impressive and yet it is quiet. We very well might blow a circuit trying to use it. We have no real room to store it, see previous list of justifications, but consider the deliciousness that is fresh fruit leather. How practical would that be in a power outage or ice storm. We have one of those that last several days every decade or so here. The government is always warning everyone to stockpile two weeks of food. It also has some nostalgia factor for me. One of my friend’s families had one of these growing up. Apple chips are the best. Said friend put on a fair amount of weight grabbing handfuls of the shrunken sweet goodness when her family first purchased it. We’d have to be on guard for that, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Speaking of fun, after watching Max’s class party and seeing how much all the kids loved them, I am reconsidering my previous scorn of chocolate fountains http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=16035785 and cotton candy machines http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=127822. Claire received a doughnut maker as a gift for her birthday last year. As I am starting to think of her birthday this year she (OK she and I) want a doll tea party theme and that Easy Bake Oven might be just the thing in combination with the doughnut maker for doll treats. What’s more: have you seen the price the American Girl stores charge for birthday parties at their restaurants? http://www.americangirl.com/stores/experience_partiesAndPackages.php I am imagining a whole fleet of Easy Bake ovens.
I am thinking, though, the next project may need to be a kitchen expansion so I can store all my new rationalizations, err justifications, err purchases.