Foodie Gift List

Do you have a cook, baker or entertainer on your Christmas gift list? Does the idea of finding a thoughtful, appealing gift for them strike fear in your heart? I get it. I love to cook and bake and over the years I’ve received my fair share of gifts in that vein. Some of been home runs. (Thanks again, Cole, for the mandoline!) Others have been duds. (Does anyone really need a separate appliance that vertically roasts chickens?) Sometimes it can feel impossible to find something your foodie a) will like and use and b) doesn’t already have. Here are some ideas for gifts that are new, different and down-right beautiful.

The Dutchess from Great Jones Goods

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is an heirloom in the making. This one from new-kid-on-the-block brand Great Jones Goods is as stylish as it is practical and at $145 is less than half of what you’d pay for one from “Le French brand”.
Ceramic Spice Grinder from Amazon

Good cooks know that freshly ground spices are head and shoulders above the pre-ground stuff. a mortar and pestle can get the job done but this adorable striped ceramic spice grinder does it in style! Bonus points if your foodie is a blogger or Instagrammer: this cutie is the perfect prop!

Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman from Amazon

Today grabbing your organic groceries is as easy as dropping into Whole Foods but that wasn’t always the case. This interesting book tells the story of how brown rice, yogurt and sprouts went from counter-culture symbols to pantry staples.
Mauviel Copper Teakettle for Williams Sonoma

If you have a tea drinker or pour-over coffee enthusiast on your list this beautiful copper kettle is sure to earn you everlasting gratitude. It’s always a bonus when something is as beautiful as it is practical.
Oval Wood Cheese & Charcuterie Board from WalMart (yes, WalMart!)

Everywhere you look cheese and charcuterie boards are the hottest thing in entertaining. This beautiful board is sure to be the talk of their next party and for this price you can even throw in some fancy cheese!
Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste from King Arthur Flour

Bakers know Nielsen-Massey vanilla is the very best. This rich, thick vanilla bean paste not only delivers the very best vanilla flavor but also the delightful specks of vanilla bean seeds that make your baked goods stand out.
Fiori di Sicilia from King Arthur Flour

Bundle the vanilla bean paste with this lesser known flavoring from King Arthur Flour. A delicious combination of vanilla and citrus, fiori di Sicilia delivers a heavenly glavor and fragrance that will have them trying to guess the secret ingredient.

The Folio Book of Food and Drink

Folio Society books are works of art and this beautiful volume of writings on food and drink from everyone from Austen to Slater is just the thing to curl up in front of the fire with a cup of cocoa and enjoy.
Thirstystone Marble Lazy Susan from Target

This marble lazy Susan does double duty. A pretty platter for party time appetizers and the perfect to place to park everyday essentials near the stove the rest of the time.
Rifle Paper x Hedley & Bennett Rosa Apron

Believe me, your favorite chef really doesn’t want another “Kiss the Cook” apron. This wonderful apron is sturdy enough for everyday use yet pretty enough to toss on over a party dress for last minute prep.
Aerin Ginger Jar Champagne Bucket from Williams-Sonoma Home

It’s not a party without champagne and this generously sized ice bucket/cooler is up to the job but it will look just as fabulous gracing a sideboard on a random Tuesday.
Kitchen Basics or Imaginary Friends Salt Sample Packs from Beautiful Briny Sea

Beautiful Briny Sea makes some of the most exciting seasoned salt blends around from quality ingredients. Let your favorite cook taste their way through one or both of these sample packs to discover their own favorite. I’m partial to Mushroom and French Picnic.

Mason Cash Animal Mixing Bowls from King Arthur Flour

No chef ever has enough mixing bowls and these beauties from Mason Cash are pretty enough to double as serving bowls. The soft colors, scalloped edges and embossed woodland creature designs make this set stand out from the pack.
Half Sheet Pan and Cooling Rack Set

Cook or baker, novice or pro; everyone needs a few half sheet pans in their repertoire. This handy set comes with a rack sized to fit inside so it can serve as a roasting rack as well as a cooling rack. 

Until next time

XOXO

Crystal

Beauty In, Beauty Out

I haven’t posted since February! I have no excuse. It’s time to get back to it. I read a genius article recently about how our brains are being rewired due to online versus analog reading. It was thought-provoking and made me glad that I came of age, an avid reader, in the days of physical books. But the thing that jumped out at me was one particular thought: Beauty in, beauty out. Here, in the author’s own words:

“In Silicon Valley, they have a saying that explains why an algorithm starts producing unwanted results: Garbage in, garbage out. The idea is that an algorithm can only work with the information you feed it. Aren’t writers – all creators – algorithmic in that way? Our job is to process what we consume. Beauty in, beauty out. Garbage in, garbage out.”

It’s really the simplest of ideas; to do better, you have to consume quality. To write well you must read good material. To cook well you must eat good food. To make authentic art you must view good art. The idea is not to copy a writer or artist or maker you admire or to slavishly follow recipes or lists or someone else’s path to success. What you’re doing is increasing your knowledge base so you can easily recognize quality; in other’s works, of course; but most importantly, in your own. 

I took this idea as a jumping off point. I think that this idea doesn’t just apply to any given art or craft you’re hoping to master but quality of life as well. If you focus on what’s wrong or unfinished or imperfect in your life then that’s all you’ll see: the flaws, the glitches, the messes. Conversely, if you focus on the bounty and abundance of your life then that’s what will fill your heart. Sure, you’ll still see the things that  need work but instead of seeing them as a reflection of yourself as an unworthy being you’ll see them as a chance to improve your already bright life.

Positive thinking is not a panacea for the ills of the world and it’s certainly not meant to blind you to the problems of modern life that you can do something to help remedy. Instead, it’s meant to help you continue to strive to improve your lot and the greater world around you. This can be especially important to those of us who struggle with mental health and especially important at this time of year when the struggle can be the toughest. Look for the good. Look for the happy. Look for the beauty in your life.

Here’s a link to the original article:

I Have Forgotten How to Read by Michael Harris https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/i-have-forgotten-how-toread/article37921379/

Until next time

XOXO

Crystal