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Gifts For and From the Kitchen

December 19, 2011

With only a few days left until Christmas, those of us who keep putting Christmas shopping off until the last minute are starting to fret.  If you have a chef (home or professional) in your life who still needs a gift, here’s a little hint for getting someone they will really enjoy.

Looking for one big gift, or just stocking stuffers?  Try checking out the articles on splurging and saving – these are all viable gift ideas for a cuisine fan.

There are, of course, more ideas for a great gift.  Think of your recipient’s kitchen and cooking.  If they have a pet kitchen tool, like a stand mixer or a vacuum sealer, getting accessories for them (more mixing bowls or attachments, or a few resealable jars and containers) is always a welcome gift.  The same way, accessories to make the preparation of a signature dish easier may be a good idea.

In my experience, most home chefs are also “winos” to a certain extent: not necessarily wine snobs, but enjoying a nice wine with their cooking.  In this case, a whole another set of options opens up, ranging from wine charms to the Rabbit wine opener, aerators and specialty glassware.

Another idea that’s always welcome is to get some cookbooks.  Try finding ethnic recipes or an antique book – those old 20’s, 30’s or even older recipe books are often just as entertaining as a read as they contain good old-fashioned, hearty recipes.  One of my favorite cookbooks growing up was from my great-grandmother, from 1912!  It explained how to skim milk, churn butter, skin rabbits, make 20 gallons (!) of ice cream in a pit dug in the back yard, and a lot more interesting facts from a way of life that just doesn’t exist anymore.

For a more personal touch on recipes, write down a few of your favorite or signature recipes on recipe cards to give out to friends and family.

For a more crafty approach – and still on the time-saving way! -, whip up a big batch of peanut butter cookie dough.  Portion it to small balls, and place a dozen of them in a mason jar.  Add some ribbon or a piece of Christmas fabric over the lid, and a card with the instructions for baking and storage (the dough keeps for about a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer).  Don’t forget to mention the possible allergens on the label, especially if you don’t know the recipient or his/her family that well!  You can also stuff a jar full of home-baked goodies, be them brownies, cookies, handmade candy or gingerbread.  This little jar of treats makes a great hostess gift, party favor or a nice twist to office gift exchanges.

You can also mix up some seasoning – especially if you already have your own personal blend that has gotten compliments!  Again, don’t forget the label with your recommendations: is it best for poultry or beef?

A really generous, yet simple gift idea from your kitchen is to offer a gourmet or themed dinner party at a later time.  This way, all you have to do before Christmas is to write a card with your invitation, something like this:

“To spread the joy of Christmas beyond the holidays, please join us for a gourmet/Tuscan/Greek/Armenian/etc. dinner at our home; at a time most convenient for you and your family.  Love, The Smiths.”

This is actually kind of a gift for yourself as well – time spent with friends and family is time well spent, after all; and doing it over a delicious dinner just makes it all the better!

If you really start to run out of ideas for Auntie Ethel, put together a gourmet gift package.  Select foods that she likes; and especially if she lives far from you, things that are not available in her region.  Pack them neatly in a gift basket, or in a sturdy robe box with colorful crinkle paper shreds, and the gift will definitely be appreciated.

I hope this little brainstorm-article helped ease your last minute gift-finding stress!  And don’t forget – any gift can be great if it comes from the true intention of sharing, love and care.

Enjoy your holidays!

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