Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kattomic Energy Holiday Gift Guide--part 3

This one's for the foodies...
The best thing about giving gifts to your favorite foodies is that the range of options is wide. One of the best gifts I ever got was from my best friend's mother, who gave me one of those little cylinders you roll garlic cloves in to remove their skins easily. I use that practical, low-tech little gadget almost every time I cook. (Yes, I use a lot of garlic. Not only is it good for you, it keeps vampires at bay.)

Stocking Stuffers--You can get little gadgets at any grocery store or drug store, and that's a good place to start--a jar of some exotic spice mix; color-coordinated citrus squeezers--but don't stop there. San Francisco chef Ranjan Dey has developed a whole line of spice mixes for sale through his New World Spices company.  The authentic Indian blends include a variety of heats (I am in love with their Madras Tamarind Hot Curry blend), packaged in attractive canisters. Individual spices are priced at $3.99 (which is cheaper than those large containers of chrome yellow, generic curry) and sets are available.

Once you go beyond vanilla and almond extracts, it's almost impossible to get pure flavor essences in even the best-stocked grocery store. If you want coconut, for example, you have to make do with artificial coconut flavoring. Unless... you know about a site called Avanti Savoia. This is a place where good foodies go when they die.  Their goal is to provide "the world's best food from the world's smallest producers" and the items available are one of a kind and all of them sound droolingly delicious. (Low Country Sweet Potato Butter? I am SOOO there, at less than $8 for a jar.) But they also carry a full line of natural extracts including coconut, cherry and peach (all available for $10.50 a bottle, which is about what Madagascar vanilla costs.)

The riddle of steel--the worst cuts I ever got while cooking weren't from sharp knives but from dull ones (and one incredibly sharp tuna fish can lid). Most of the knives in my drawer are the kind you buy at supermarkets, which is to say, pretty low quality.  Any serious cook would be thrilled to get a really good knife--the kind of knife you register for when you get married. You've got your choice of German or Japanese here, and one place where you'll find pretty much anything you want is at Cutlery & More.

From: Frankencutter
For the baker-- Years ago, Martha Stewart Magazine ran a cover with a series of fabulous oversized cookies--glittery crescent moons and a penguin. You could buy all the cookie cutters (she had a full range of cutters that were gorgeous but  hideously expensive) EXCEPT for the penguin. I coveted that penguin cookie cutter. Now, if I want one, I can have it. (This is why I love Etsy.)  Ashley Wehrman will custom-make a cookie cutter from any design you send her, for only $18. You can also order custom cutters from Frankencutter in Michigan. As you might expect from a business located in Michigan, they do cutters shaped like cars as well along with more traditional designs. They already have a full line of Greek Letter Cutters (ranging in price from $18 to $28 depending on how elaborate they are). My favorite though--and I can see these cookies at a Valentine's Day party--is the broken heart cutter.

Gourmet Bacon Assortment from Nueskes
For the love of bacon--I did not know that there was a site called Bacon Today that is "all about the world of bacon." It features bacon news, bacon recipes (today's is "Bacon eggnog" but one of their favorites is bacon cinnamon rolls) and a bacon shop where you can buy Maple Bacon lollipops (which sound kind of tasty and priced for impulse buys at five for $3.75) to bacon-flavored soda (urk). For the hard-core bacon lover, consider a gift from Nueske's. You can sometimes find their bacon in high-end grocery stores (with a price tag to match), and it's worth sampling. A gourmet assortment of bacon will run you about $28.  If you love the taste of bacon, but can't eat it, check out Bacon Salt, a vegetarian, zero calorie product that the sellers claim "makes everything taste like bacon."

Food of the Month Clubs--Back in the day, before every little town had a farmer's market and grocery stores stocked a bewildering variety of fruits and vegetables year round, companies like Harry and David  were great options for sending festive fruit gifts to friends and clients. (My parents always got pears from one far-flung relative.) These days, though, food of the month clubs have gone way, way beyond fruit. There's even a gateway site, Amazing Clubs, that has links to a bazillion "gift of the month" clubs that include cigar of the month, dog treat of the month, and beer of the month. There's the Jam and Jelly Club ($19.95 a month) and Ice Cream Club of the Month; Hot Sauce of the Month Club ($18.95 a month).

Cooking by the book--I basically just use a couple of cookbooks (including my mother's favorite, Joy of Cooking), but I love reading cookbooks and they always make terrific gifts for cooks because they're often kind of expensive and these days, when every dime has to stretch to a dollar, it's hard for cooks to justify the indulgence of yet another cookbook purchase. So maybe instead of buying a lot of little stuff, buy a book like Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes (one of Epicurious' best cookbooks for 2012 and available on their site for only $115.11. Diane Morgan's Roots made a number of "best cookbook" lists this year, and while not cheap (around $27) it is billed as "the definitive
compendium" of recipes featuring root vegetables. Plus, it's a truly beautiful book.

No comments:

Post a Comment