By Don Lindich
Week 47, 2023
Regular readers know I love to cook, and this week’s gift recommendations will be sure to be loved by any home chef.
Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 24 pellet grill, $1,199.99 : I have had good (actually, great) experiences with Camp Chef pellet grills, having purchased one for both myself and then later for my sister as a gift several years ago. The patented ash cleanout system and precise, reliable operation make ownership a breeze, and the wood pellets, available in many varieties, impart a mild, pleasing smoke flavor to the food.
One of the caveats to a wood pellet grill is the “mild” part. If you want more prominent smoke or wood flavor it can be difficult to achieve with a pellet grill, especially at higher temperatures. Enter the Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 24, which has a “Smoke Box” drawer that can hold wood chunks, wood chips or charcoal, enhancing flavor and delivering the best of all worlds from a pellet grill. This innovative feature has taken the outdoor cooking world by storm, and rightly so. The digital controls with controllable temperature and smoke levels, heavy duty stainless steel construction and the four temperature probes will meet the needs of the most serious outdoor chef. Add wireless control and monitoring from the app and you have one of the most complete and satisfying outdoor cooking devices available. campchef.com
USB-Rechargeable Salt and Pepper grinders, $18.00 and up: When I first tried these earlier this year I thought it was overkill, but over time they have proven themselves over and over and become indispensable. They have adjustable coarseness and a small LED light that shows you where the spices are hitting the food, and distribution is very even and controllable. It is also nice to have one hand free for the grinder and one to flip the meat, avoiding contamination. I went from being a skeptic to looking to buy more of them to use with all the different kinds of salt and pepper I have in my spice cabinet. The Littneo grinders I own now sell for $25.00 per set on Amazon. There are lots of other well-reviewed models available ranging from $18.00 to over $60, so you are sure to find something that matches your financial and aesthetic tastes.
Q. I just read your column about the Cambridge Audio Alva ST turntable that was recommended and on sale. I literally know nothing about audio systems but want to play my vinyl via Bluetooth. I have Edifier Bluetooth bookshelf speakers. Do I need to use a receiver with the turntable to play music over my speakers?
-C.H., Pittsburgh, PA
A. The Alva ST turntable will pair directly with your speakers via Bluetooth, so you do not need a receiver. You can also use a wired connection to an auxiliary input, but this might place the turntable a bit too close to the speakers and cause audible feedback and distortion depending on how loudly you play. Using a longer cable and placing the turntable at least 6 feet away will help avoid this.
Q. I have a Panasonic TC-P42S1 plasma TV and a Yamaha RX-V385 receiver. I just put an antenna on the roof to receive channels and want to send audio from the TV to the receiver. Can this be done, and if so, how?
-B.H., Strafford, NH
A. Your TV has an optical audio output. Connect it from the TV to a corresponding input on your receiver, then go to the TV’s audio menus and make sure the optical digital audio output is active. It will then send the audio to your receiver for playback.