(Originally posted on Jul. 12, 2009)
My father is retired. He's always been a man who hated to be sitting around. If he wasn't moving or working, then there was a good chance he was asleep. So, when he retired, the first 6 months or so were murder on my mother. He drove her nuts having 'nothing to do'. My mother is 10 years younger than my dad, so she still works, and coming home to his desperation was getting to her.
Then, one day, he decided to fix dinner for her, for after work. When I was little, it was a big deal when Daddy cooked. His meals were always so good, but he always made complicated, fancy things and, because he worked so much, he rarely had time to devote to cooking. The decision to cook that dinner for my Mom opened up his repressed love of cooking and now he cooks every meal. Mom says she isn't even sure where things are located in the kitchen anymore (and she's not upset about that at all).
Another thing about my Dad is, he grew up just after the Great Depression. Typical of his generation, he never really 'wanted' anything special for gifts. If he NEEDED something, he got it, saved up for it, traded for it, but when it came to the question of what do you WANT, he'd always say, "I don't need anything, I have all I need."
So, what to get a man who sincerely doesn't feel he wants anything? Well...
I am a huge fan of the Food Network, especially Alton Brown. One day, he had a show on and talked about meat thermometers. He had one that he said was really great. It is a digital unit, but the probe is on a long wire. You put the probe in your meat, the wire runs through the closed oven door and to the digital unit on your counter. I bought one for myself, based on Alton's glowing recommendation, and fell in love. When Christmas time came around and, once again, I was at a loss for a gift for my father, I decided to give him one. He cooks now, maybe he would like it.
He told me he had been having a lot if issues getting a reliable thermometer to use for oven dishes. He was skeptical about the one I gave him, but I showed him how it works and left it alone. I was a little bummed because I figured it would go in a drawer and never be used.
He called me shortly after New Year's and told me he had tried it. His voice was grim, on the phone and I was getting more and more depressed at how impossible this man is to shop for, when he started giggling (he doesn't giggle often) and said he was just teasing. He said it was the best gift he'd gotten in years and he uses it nearly every day. I nearly cried with joy and relief! The unit was a success!
If you haven't tried this kind of thermometer, and you make a lot of items in the oven, you might want to try one. They are fairly inexpensive, easy to use, and... perfect for the cook who has everything!