It's a pot scrubber! In last week's Alibi, I asked readers to identify a mysterious object that Film Editor Devin D. O'Leary had unearthed at a yard sale. With a riveted metal handle attached to a wide mesh made of linked metal rings, it had confounded us for weeks. Suggestions from readers poured in, most of them guessing that it was a rug beater, something we were sure was impossible; the thing was just to flimsy to be any good at beating dust out of a sturdy rug. But two astute readers (first Susie Rodee and later, Jerry Monarch) e-mailed within hours of each other to identify the utensil as a vintage pot scrubber, specifically for dredging bits of food from the bottoms of cast iron pans. Once we had this lead, it was easy to confirm. A simple eBay search revealed two similar items and one nearly identical. The good news is that we estimate the pot scrubber to be from about the '30s and, according to eBay, it's worth about $20. The bad news is that O'Leary refused to part with the thing and now I have to go buy one on eBay. The whole search and discovery was fun, though, so I'll be posting more mystery gadgets and giving out more prizes in the near future.
Looking for a really special piñata for your next party? Wouldn't you just love to ram your fist up Dick Cheney's throat and stuff him full of candy or cram Dubya's noggin with mini bottles of Jim Beam? Well now you can. Two local artists have begun crafting their own smashable papier-mâché effigies of our lovable leaders. Bush costs about $50 and Little Dick costs $30 or $75 for the pair. Buy two. Give one to the dog! Make sure someone's videotaping and you'll be able to enjoy the event over and over again. The creators, Crash and Jada, make each piñata to order and they can custom-make pretty much any shape you want, from football helmets to Frankenstein heads to sacred hearts. To get your own, call Crash at 401-8794.
With election season upon us, it's time to get serious about voting. But forget the race for president just now; I'm picking winners in the world of wine. I've offered up several deserving of high office, hoping you consider them for your drinking pleasure. (Note: These winners were chosen from tastings over the past year. Prices are approximate.)
Michael J. Rosen is an author, editor and illustrator who is also a member of the national board of Share Our Strength, a hunger-fighting agency that works closely with the food, restaurant and kitchen supply industries to raise funds for their efforts. Last year, Rosen released Cooking from the Heart, a volume of collected recipes from 100 high-profile chefs who contributed dishes that were closest to their hearts. Share Our Strength receives a portion of the proceeds from that book and this follow-up, Baking from the Heart (Broadway, hardcover, $29.95). Since the recipes in this book come from professional bakers, it could have easily become a pretty but rarely used volume that collected dust on a shelf. But Rosen managed to procure from these chefs recipes that are more likely to be familiar to your grandmother than they are to grace the cover of Modern Pastry Chef. There are gingerbread cupcakes, plum tarts and fudge brownies, recipes that are relatively simple but definitely show the benefit of a chef's tinkering. They may be brownies, but they'll be the best damn brownies you've ever had.