The Christmas season is truly upon us

You can tell because the 2020 Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog is out. What’s your favorite item? I’m torn between the $100 crate containing a small container of pancake mix and the $4500 espresso machine. I hope my wife isn’t too disappointed that she isn’t getting any of it.

Actually, the $100 pancake mix is the best/worst. Look at that! Do you hand the crate to the cook and tell them to make you a stack?


  1. says

    Pancake mix is already a travesty*.
    But if your pancakes cost more than 10 bucks PER PANCAKE? That’s just horrible.

    (*The recipe for pancakes is so easy, that my mother, when asked by a very young me, couldn’t even say how much you need from each ingredient. “Just take as much as you need from each, you have seen pancake batter, you know how it should look like.” was her answer.)

  2. says

    Pancake mix is the best way to scream “I do not understand cooking at all!” Basically it’s flour and some baking powder and maybe some spices (if you like gaudy flavors) “just add milk, eggs, and melted butter!” I.e: the remaining ingredients for pancakes. It’s like having a recipe for popcorn, ffs.

  3. brucej says

    ““Just take as much as you need from each, you have seen pancake batter, you know how it should look like.” was her answer”

    That could go horribly horribly wrong. I hate those kinds of “Oh this recipe is simple, I’ve been making it for 40 years! You just add the right amounts of the ingredients together, I never bother to measure!” descriptions “Yeah because you’ve been making it for 40 years!

    I will admit I use pancake mix…..that I make myself, from a Rachel Ray recipe, or maybe the Joy of Cooking recipe, I forget (one of the two ribbon bookmarks of our battered 30yo copy of ‘Joy’ is permanently at the pancake section :-)

    It’s written on the side of the big plastic jar I keep it in, along with the use recipe: 1C mix, 1Egg, 1C Milk, 1TB oil. So easy a caveman could make it…

    ½ C milk and ½ C buttermilk works better, and is convenient since I can only get my ½ C measure into the jar with my large stubby hands.

  4. PaulBC says

    brucej@3 I think “You know what it should look like.” or the overall consistency or whatever, is good advice to those who actually know because maybe they’ve watched you make pancakes. However, recipes have the advantage that you can learn stuff you have never seen anyone cook before.

    Pancakes are pretty simple though (I can make them, and that’s evidence enough).

  5. wzrd1 says

    I sub out the milk in favor of kefir and add a touch of vanilla.
    I’ll also make fairly large batches to freeze in zip lock bags of four pancakes per bag, reusing the bag (I collapse the bag and store it in the place on the shelves in the freezer dedicated for pancakes).

    Found some decent plant based sausage substitutes, iffy bacon versions (annoyingly, I found excellent turkey bacon in the Middle East, but can’t seem to find a peer for it in the US) and absolutely nothing to substitute for scrapple.
    My wife, ever the purist, loathes the lot of substitutes.

  6. PaulBC says


    absolutely nothing to substitute for scrapple.

    Are you from the Philly area? I am, but we never ate that. I think some of my older siblings who still live there may have come around to it.

  7. davidc1 says

    What the smeg is Peppermint bark ? And having watched Red Dwarf from the very start ,i laughed my socks out when i found out there was a company called Smeg .

  8. says

    But there appears to be a whole pint of artisanal maple syrup, too! And a festive tartan…apron, maybe? Surely that makes it worth a hundred bucks, plus shipping.

  9. whheydt says

    I use the pancake recipe I got from my father–who got it from his grandmother. My wife and I think it goes back to before 1850, when double-acting baking powders came on the market, because it use both baking powder and baking soda.

  10. davidc1 says

    Well off topic ,but Unicef is to feed hungry children in the UK for the first time in it’s 70 year history .
    I am so fucking ashamed to be English .

  11. robert79 says

    wait… you’re all complaining about $100 pancake mix while there’s a $4500 espresso machine in there?!?

    A $50 espresso machine functions just fine (and I rather enjoy the routine of grinding my beans, filling the holder and pressing a button, instead of having some computer do it for me…) and there are $10-20 stovetop (instead of electric) variants around too.

  12. says

    You can get scrapple in Philly, but it’s kind of an oddity. The real scrapple strongholds are out in central PA — like around Lancaster. Amish country.

  13. says

    I’m not complaining about the espresso machine because, whether it’s $50 or $4500, I’m not getting one. I will buy a $3 bag of flour & some baking powder, though.

  14. rblackadar says

    For us really cheapskate coffee drinkers, that $10 stovetop espresso pot — or better yet, $3 from the flea market — has a hidden bonus: no paper coffee filter required.

  15. Walter Solomon says

    You can get scrapple in Philly, but it’s kind of an oddity. The real scrapple strongholds are out in central PA — like around Lancaster. Amish country.

    I come from a scrapple-eating family from Maryland. In fact, I always thought it was a Maryland thing.

  16. kaleberg says

    A lot of these things are meant to be given as gifts. The value of a gift isn’t about the gift’s utility or even its component and labor cost, it’s about the value of the relationship of the giver. (This isn’t just a capitalist thing. It’s true in just about EVERY human society.)

  17. PaulBC says

    kaleberg@19 But why does Williams-Sonoma benefit? The fancy-packed pancake mix can be obtained cheaply and (for the sake of argument) has greater value to the recipient. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the giver to obtain the parts and package them? True, it also depends on how much they can get by doing something else with their time, so an affluent, time-strapped person could outsource to Williams-Sonoma and maybe that’s the value proposition here.

    In principle all of this makes sense, but the key element here is that I would actually be pretty disappointed in this gift. It’s not that exciting. It’s just pancake mix. I can price it in my head. If someone told me that $100 had been spent on it, I would think even less of the gift and the giver.

  18. says

    @#8, davidc1:

    Peppermint bark is a kind of candy. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had it, but it appears to be a sort of soft, fudgy concoction, either solid white whatever (not sure if it’s white chocolate or peppermint-flavored) or layered chocolate and white whatever, with crushed peppermint hard candy mixed in to give it texture. You can make it at home or buy it premade. I have the impression that it’s something which was invented as a way for candy manufacturers to dispose of candy canes which shattered before they could be sold.

  19. Walter says

    We got one of those fancy Jura coffee machines at work. It makes good coffee which ought to be expected given the price. Unfortunately, everyone’s working from home…
    Here in Germany they cost 50% less than in that ridiculous catalogue; a 40$ french press will satisfy all your coffee needs anyway.

  20. blf says

    Am I the only one who had no idea what scrapple was?
    The mildly deranged penguin guessed it had something to do with scrumpy, probably with added peas.
    (I’ve looked it up, I now know what it is (made of). The mildly deranged penguin is trying to decide which is worse-sounding, scrumpy-made-from-peas, spam, or scrapple.)

    Apropos of nothing, my USAian-style pancakes (made from scratch (I concur it’s easy)) are also made with kefir and (usually) vanilla, (sometimes) some spices, honey (never sugar), spelt flour (sometimes with ground nuts (almond, usually)) and a touch of baking powder, and the all-important egg(s) & butter (unsalted); and never, never any salt. I don’t measure, using experience to guide, ah la “Just take as much as you need from each…”.

  21. davidc1 says

    @21 Over here in GB ,we have a thing called Kendal Mint Cake ,it might be the same thing ,it is beloved of hill climbers and
    ramblers .

    @24 ,HAHA ,i will have to have a look at that site .

  22. JustaTech says

    Peppermint Bark is white chocolate melted, with crushed peppermint candies mixed in. If you’re lucky there’s also a layer of regular chocolate under the white chocolate. As someone who really, really doesn’t like white chocolate, I’ve never made peppermint bark and I try to avoid having to eat it for politeness’s sake.

    It is not a fine or complicated confection. You can make it in the microwave from stuff from the grocery store.

  23. PaulBC says

    I like peppermint bark though I rarely give it thought. I had no idea it was a contentious confection. And yeah, I suppose it is a good way to use broken candy canes, but that’s hardly the capitalist conspiracy of the century.

    Mint and chocolate go together very well (in my opinion). I still consider the best sundae ever to be mint-chip with hot fudge.