Written by

Shawn Blanc

The holidays are nigh, and for us that means time with family, a lot of cooking, and (hopefully) some time to rest and relax. To that end, we’ve put together a brief list of some tools and toys that you may find worthwhile this week.


A Few Good Thermometers

The best way to know when your turkey is cooked (and not overcooked!) is with a thermometer. Cooking to temperature is far safer and more accurate than cooking based on time. And whatever you do, don’t use that red pop-up thermometer that comes with your turkey. It’ll pop up at around 185°, which means you’ll have very dry turkey meat.

Trust us when we say you want an accurate, instant-read thermometer. The RT600C (who names these things?) is excellently accurate, and takes just 5-6 seconds (or less) to get a temperature reading. Plus it’s dishwasher safe, has a 5,000 hour battery life, and costs a mere $19.

We also highly recommend a good, leave-in, wireless thermometer: The Maverick Wireless Thermometer. It has a dual thermometer output, with one line for the temp of your smoker or oven, and one line for the internal temp of your meat. You then plug each probe into the base station and leave it clipped to the side of your smoker. Then, with the receiver in your pocket you can go about your day by watching the game inside, taking a nap on the hammock, or playing catch out front with your boys, all the time knowing exactly what temperature your smoker is. And, on the receiver (which has a range of 300 feet) you can even set high and low temp alarms (tell me when the turkey gets to 160).

Not only will these two thermometers do you right this week, they’ll be your best friends once springtime comes and you start dusting off ye ole backyard grill.

Paprika Recipe App

This is the best recipe app for your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. And Paprika is more than just a recipe app. Paprika makes it easy to plan, save, shop for, cook, and organize all your favorite recipes. In addition to its iPhone and iPad apps, Paprika has a great Mac app as well.

Organic Ground Ceylon Cinnamon

Ceylon Cinnamon is also known as “true cinnamon.” Its flavor is more delicate but much sweeter than other varieties. Also, it contains the least amount of coumarin, which is a liver-damaging substance.

Amazing Ribs

We cannot recommend the Amazing Ribs website enough. It is an excellent and proven resource for how to cook a turkey (and ribs, and brisket, and steaks…).

Coffee Stuff

For all the extra time you’ll have to make your morning coffee (and after dinner coffee), we’ve got the definitive coffee guide right here.


The holidays aren’t just about food. They’re also about (if not even moreso) time with friends and family and time to relax.


Here’s a Tools & Toys secret: one of the best “Christmas Stations” is on Pandora, if you know how to find it. Save a new Pandora station built on the classic 1965 album, A Charlie Brown Christmas, where Vince Guaraldi and his trio do some great Christmas songs. From there Pandora does the rest, and you’ll get hours and hours of instrumental and jazzy Christmas tunes.

As for listening…. well the Aether Cone and the UE Boom are both excellent portable spekers. And, this handy little device will turn any speaker system in your house into a Bluetooth receiver (so you can stream music straight from your iPhone or iPad).


If reading for pleasure, check out The Once and Future King or Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

If reading for inspiration, may we recommend the Steven Pressfield trilogy: The War of Art, Turning Pro, and Do the Work. If you’re familiar with Pressfield already, then perhaps you’d enjoy Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar.

If you’re taking a road trip this week, audio books are always a most-welcome companion. Check out Revival by Stephen King or Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars by Patrick Lencioni.


Two of our favorite board games are 7 Wonders and Puerto Rico. And over on The Sweet Setup we’ve a whole slew of our favorite iOS games. Not the least of which include Kingdom Rush, Oceanhorn, and Machinarium.