I have to take a quick moment to brag about the birthday presents I received this year. There were many beautiful and thoughtful gifts and I love them all. Thank you!

My birthday wish came true and I got a thermapen. Yes, A THERMAPEN. After screaming for a few seconds, I ran around taking the temperature of the air, the ground and generally anything that was soft enough to poke a needle into. The thermapen is ridiculously expensive, but the fact that it can take a temperature reading IN 4 SECONDS FLAT is truly amazing. It even came with calibration papers. CALIBRATION PAPERS! I love it more than anyone in their right mind should love a thermometer. I kind of want to carry it around in my bag and whip it out at restaurants. Okay, not really.

I also received the National Association of Meat Purveyors (NAMP) Meat Buyers Guide. Not only is it oh-so stylish, but it’s useful as well, with wonderful drawings of nearly every type of meat/poultry cut you can imagine.

My brother and his girlfriend flew in from NY for my birthday and brought a wonderful and amazing range of foodstuffs from their neighborhood: chili peppers, dried hibiscus, tamarind paste, purple corn pudding, purple drink, huitlacoche (!), Quesos Zurita Oaxacan string cheese, longaniza, mole, yellow hot pepper paste, unknown (and unlabeled) spices, chili candy and more. I’m going to have fun finding recipes for all these ingredients!

Lastly, I received some money from my dad and decided to follow my own advice. I bought a beautiful, beautiful, blue doufeu off eBay, which I expect to receive any day now. Oh yeah.