Some of you might be scrambling for gift ideas. Then again, some of you might be like us, sort of lazily drifting towards the holidays. Maybe there will be gifts, and then again, maybe there won't. A holiday surprise!
We're trying to keep it simple this year. Rather than just buy a bunch of stuff, we want to give friends and family things that they will really enjoy.
So here are some ideas for you that we've collected over the last few months. Have something you'd add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
GIFTS YOU CAN MAKE
But last December we made Jacques Torres' Cherry-Nut Mudslides (pictured left) and we liked them so much, we still think about them to this day. No doubt the person on your list who receives them as a gift this year year will as well.
The latest Food Network Magazine has an excellent feature about recipes-in-a-jar that can be given as gifts, from Curried Lentil Soup (pictured left) to Blue Cornbread to Christmas cookies. The photos are beautiful and make for festive looking packages. The full batch of ideas are available on their site.
THE GIFT OF FOOD/GIFT CERTIFICATES
This year's hot holiday gift? Pork. You heard it here first.
We're giving a lot of gifts from Western Kentucky-based Broadbent Hams, who has been making award-winning pork products since 1909. We've been Broadbent's obsessed since visiting their store this fall. Here are some items we liked from their store that would make excellent gifts:
- Bacon Trio Gift Pack: Maplewood, Hickory & Pepper! (6 packages for $35).
- Two pounds of classic Cooked Country Ham (2 pounds for $28)
- Country Sausage Sacks (50 servings for $20)
If pork's not your thing (Heaven forbid!), a friend introduced us to La Tienda (Tienda.com), an online retailer specializing in products from Spain. They carry everything from food to kitchen gear. It's definitely a fun site to browse. We already have our eye on this Bomba rice and this Chorizo Soria.
Our friend Ken is a huge fan of Ricks Picks, a New York based company that makes fourteen varieties of pickles. Ken, who has excellent taste, recommends the Mean Beans, a spicy take on dilly beans, and the Smokra, pickled okra with Spanish paprika. With a name like Smokra, how can you go wrong?
More ideas after the jump, including gifts you can drink, read and cook with.
THE GIFT OF DRINK
Have a soda junkie in your life? Order them a regional soft drink that's not available nationally. A few ideas:
Ale-8-One: For the ginger-ale fan who wants a kick of caffeine, give Kentucky's Ale-8-One. It's also good with bourbon. Just sayin'. Order Ale-8-One here.
Moxie Cola: We tried this in Maine a few years ago. It's definitely an acquired but unique taste. Order Moxie Cola here.
George Dickel #12 Tennessee Whiskey: If you have a whiskey or bourbon fan in your life, George Dickel is a great gift. It's distilled in Zach's hometown and is an excellent Tennessee sippin' whiskey. Order George Dickel here.
ROOT Organic Liqueur: We're starting to see this pop up all over the place in magazines. Most write-ups describe it as a boozy root beer. We're dying to try it. Order ROOT here.
There are two books we're really wanting to get our hands on: Simple Fresh Southern by The Lee Bros., which we wrote about earlier this month, and Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, which is turning up on just about every "best of" cookbook list right now.
Since we haven't read them, we can't vouch for them, but here are two lesser covered books that we're really digging right now:
Damn Good Food: 157 Recipes from Hell's Kitchen. No, it doesn't have anything to do with Gordon Ramsey. This cookbook is based on the food from Minneapolis restaurant Hell's Kitchen. When Zach was in Minneapolis for a conference last May, he visited Hell's Kitchen twice in three days. He's been talking about the house-made peanut butter, Mahnomin porridge and sausage bread ever since. Thankfully, they're all in the book.
The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. America's Test Kitchen mailed us a copy of this book earlier this year. It's a must have for Cook's Illustrated fans. The book covers the highlights of ATK'S work from 2001 to 2010, including not only recipes but also product and equipment reviews.
Here are more ideas for books that we own and love.
Here are a few kitchen items that always make good gifts:
A Microplane (left). Every kitchen needs one of these.
An excellent pair of kitchen scissors. Endlessly useful in the kitchen.
A great chef's knife. Here's one that's well rated and extremely affordable at only $30.
More kitchen gear recommendations can be found here.
FOOD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS
If you, like us, were saddened by the loss of Gourmet this winter, then give food magazine subscriptions to the foodies in your life. Browse subscriptions here.
What's on your gift and wish lists this year? Let us know in the comments!
- 2008 Gift Guide, including Ruth Reichl's autobiographical food trilogy, gift certificates to Penzeys Spices, knive, and an electric composter that we never purchased.
- Four foodie books we read (and loved) this year, including Ratio, The Flavor Bible, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles and Gael Greene's wonderfully smutty Insatiable