It's that time of year again; and you are probably looking for ways to avoid the malls, and maybe not buy any gifts for the holidays this year. I've got a few ideas for gifts that range from expensive, to not so expensive; let's face it, giving gifts that mean something to someone you love takes work on your part. So come along, and I'll give you a few ideas that will keep you sane, and probably out of the malls.
Flowers and Plants
A floral arrangement for the dining room table is a lovely gift to give someone far away; the florist takes care of making it gorgeous and they even deliver it. Lots of places on the web to buy these, but here are two that I like:
www.ftd.com and www.proflowers.com
Another idea is a flower/plant of the month club. I love sending orchids, especially to friends who live in the deep freeze (think East Coast) This family owned company on Maui sends some of the best orchids
Where do I begin? There are lots of great purveyors out there, but these are a few of my favorites. Food makes a great gift for older folks; but buy quality, not cheap processed junk.
Murray's will put together a gift that will make anyone smile; French, Italian, raw, domestic, blue, Swiss, whatever you like, and the quality is exquisite!
The website alone will make you fall in love---lots of choices here from breads, to cheese, salumi, you name it, they have it.
Humanely raised beef, pork, lamb, and terrific bacon and sausages. These are gifts for those who love to cook, and will take delight in receiving steaks, roasts, or bacon.
Bacon of the Month Club:
That's right, a different bacon every month, what's not to love about that?? If you prefer a one-stop-shop, Zingermans' does a bacon club, too.
Lobster Clam Bakes:
Arriving via FEDEX, in an enamel pot, you get all the fixings for a lobster feed, including the bibs!
Baked By Melissa makes min-cupcakes that are to die for; and they deliver!
They do all the work and put together fabulous baskets, and gift boxes for you of delicious quality foods.
Gravitti Pepper Mill
This awesome tool doesn't need a twist of the wrist, when your hands are sloppy in the kitchen; just turn it over and it grinds the pepper for you. I have one for salt and one for pepper on my counter next to the stove.
Lots of choices here, Maldon from Britain, Cyprus Flake, Bailene French Sea salt, or Fleur de Sel are great gifts to give a cook. Or if your recipient likes to play with their food, flavored salts are also a great gift.
Fresh spices are imperative for great dishes; I generally go through my spices on New Years' tossing those that are old, and those that no longer have any aroma. I love Penzeys' spices and order them on line. They are fresh, and come in glass jars that will fit into drawers, or spice racks.
All-Clad 3 to 5-quart Saucier
This is an indispensable piece of equipment; use it for sauces, gravies, reductions, it's a great all-purpose pan.
I have traded in all my wooden spoons; these silicone beauties don't absorb odors or stain, and they go right in the dishwasher.
If your knife skills aren't the best, try one of these guys---precisely cut onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, apples, mango (for salsa) Great for the novice to get started.
Epicurean brand cutting boards are made of wood, but can go right into the dishwasher. they come in black, or faux wood color.
Cutting on marble, or hard surfaces will dull your knives, so buy wood.
Good knives are a great starter for someone who is building their kitchen; you can give a knife, and maybe a a gift certificate to a cooking school for a knife skills class.
Everyone needs a non-stick skillet to cook eggs, or other sticky foods. Scanpan browns, even though it's non-stick (most non-stick pans steam food, rather than brown them)
Traditionally made Balsamic vinegar can cost upwards of $150 for a small bottle. B.R. Cohn has a 25 year old that is marvelous for everyday use, and the price is right. You might want to give a selection of vinegars.
The grill guy in your life will love this briefcase full of grill tools; get him an apron, and an oven mitt, and chef's hat to complete the package. Another great tool is the laser thermometer to gauge the temperature of the grill.
For the person who has everything, the best gift is a donation to their favorite charity, or YOUR favorite charity. At this time of the year there are plenty of people in need, and a donation helps to make the holidays that much brighter for those without shelter, food or clothing. Your local food bank could use your help or donations; this year most food banks are in crisis with so many people out of work and donations are down.
As you go through your days heading towards Christmas, remember our military and their families, serving our country away from their homes and families. Adopt a military family and help them to have a happy holiday.