Product Picks

A Feast of Gift Ideas

Something for all the food (and drink) lovers on your list


With Thanksgiving now firmly behind us, the season of frenetic holiday shopping now begins. Between co-workers, neighbors, teachers, and family members, it seems like the list grows longer every year. I am happy to help!

No matter what stripe of eater or drinker for whom you’re shopping, I think I’ve found something they just might enjoy. Here are some of my favorite food-related giftables for the 2012 holiday season.

For the home cook, I like the wooden spoons, spreaders and scrapers from Earlywood Designs. They’re made by hand in Red Lodge, Montana, and come in a variety of shapes and finishes. My favorite is the Tera-Scraper ($13). It is perfectly balanced, feels good in the hand and has the right angle for stirring soups and stews. Earlywood is also a company with an ecological bent. They have pledged to plant 100 trees for every one they use in the production of their goods. Prices for their tools and cutting boards range from $7 to $49, so there’s a comfortable point for just about everyone.

Earlywood Designs
100 to 1 pledge

If you have a jam-on-toast lover on your list, look no further than Blue Chair Fruit Company. Based in the Bay Area, they capitalize on their year-round growing season and craft combinations that can only be made in California (like Apple-Meyer Lemon Marmalade or Apricot-Orange Jam). Hand-pick a selection of jams ($12 a piece), or spring for a six-month jam club membership ($120). If your intended recipient is more of a DIY-er, there’s always a copy of the Blue Chair Fruit Cookbook ($35) to tickle their fancy.

Blue Chair Fruit
Jam Club Membership
Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

The artisanal cocktail movement has spawned some unusual ideas in recent years and so I suggest Sage ($32.99) for your favorite amateur mixologist. Woodsy and herbaceous, Sage is the latest from the folks at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. It joins their line-up of quirky spirits, which also include Root (a boozy, American amaro based on old-time root tea), Snap (tastes like intoxicating ginger cookies) and Rhubarb Tea (inspired by a concoction made by a Colonial-era botanist). Try it with tonic water in place of gin, or stirred into an updated martini.

Sage by Art in the Age
Finding delicious treats for those on a plant-based diet can sometimes be a little challenging. But think I’ve even hit on just the thing for your vegan friends. Get them a jar or two of one of the small-batch, artisanal butters that have hit the market recently. Wild Squirrel makes a Vanilla Espresso butter ($9.99) that’s sweetened with agave and packs a caffeinated wallop. If you’re trying to avoid peanuts, Naturally Nutty sells a Chocolate Sunflower Butter ($8.50) that will enliven any sandwich. For the truly outrageous, opt for the Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut Butter ($16.35) from Futter’s. It’s like Nutella, only much, much better.

Wild Squirrel Vanilla Espresso butter
Naturally Nutty Organic Chocolate Sunflower Butter
Futter’s Nut Butters

With new cookbooks coming out seemingly every day, culinary bookworms should be the easiest ones on your list. But when faced with so many seemingly good volumes, how does one choose?  Parents will enjoy Dinner: A Love Story ($29.99) by Jenny Rosenstrach. Give the Joy the Baker Cookbook ($19.99) to lovers of creative cakes and treats. For creative preserving with a European sensibility, opt for Diana Henry’s Salt, Sugar, Smoke ($29.99). And for those who like memoir with a side of recipes, there’s nothing better than My Berlin Kitchen ($26.95) by Luisa Weiss.

Here’s hoping that helps you mark more than a few folks off your list!

Marisa McClellan is a food blogger, freelance writer and canning teacher based in Center City Philadelphia. She runs a website called Food in Jars, where she writes about canning, preserving and delicious things made from scratch. She regularly writes for the Food Network, USA Today, Grid Philly and Mrs. Wages. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.


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