Sunday, December 22, 2013

Six Last Minute Gifts for the Food Lover

I'm not sure how it happened.

December 22nd.

I had so many intentions for Christmas this year. *Real*, tangible holiday cards that I would hand write in loopy illegible cursive and dorn with mistletoe postage stamps. An actual Christmas tree that I would decorate with sales bin metallic ornament finds and show off on Instagram. New and old cookie recipes that I would whip up in my snowflake apron and package for everyone I've come into contact with… ever.

From the girl who sells me kale and Brussels sprouts at the Farmers' Market, to anyone who's liked one of my posts on Facebook this year. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

And yet, here it is, December 22nd and I've written approximately one holiday card, am celebrating the season with a ten-inch, unadorned tree from Trader Joe's named "Larry," and the only holiday confection I've confected are my grandma's walnut caramels.

I've been telling myself it's because "Thanksgiving was late this year," and that "We missed a WHOLE weekend!", and I suppose it is true. Yet something about the holidays makes me feel like I should have done more. Could still do more.

Or at the very least compose a list of my favorite DIY edible gifts and cookbooks that might inspire someone else to do more… in the next 48 hours.

DIY Edible Gifts

For the Breakfast Lover - Mason Jars Filled with Granola
- This is my go-to for a homemade housewarming or holiday hostess present. It's heartfelt and keeps well so its recipient can enjoy it for several weeks after receiving. My standby granola recipe is still Early Bird Foods Granola via Molly Wizenberg at Orangette. It's just rich enough to taste like something special is happening in your cereal bowl without teetering too far into dessert territory.

For the Snacker - Spiced Glazed Nuts & Pretzels
- This nut mix from David Lebovitz, like most of his recipes, still obliterates any bit of restraint I might possess if I didn't like eating/food/nuts so much. This is why we make it to give away, not hoard all to ourselves. (Life Lessons 101)

For the Sweet Tooth - Sea Salt Walnut Caramels
- My absolute favorite recipe to make during the holidays. While they take patience to individually wrap in wax paper, anyone I've given these to has made subsequent requests for more of the same the following year. These caramels are love and nostalgia, which, in my mind, is the best gift to give anyone during the holiday season.


You still have 18 hours to order on Amazon for arrival on Christmas Eve. For a personal touch, if you've prepared recipes from the cookbook, tag your favorites with post-it notes, offering your tips and serving suggestions. You can also pair it with a key ingredient showcased in the book (suggestions below!).

For the Vegetable Lover - Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
- Even though I've had this cookbook for two years, I'm still blown away by both the creativity and the precision of the recipes. It's the cookbook that I most often pull from my bookshelf in search of inspiration - usually because I have some odd vegetable lingering in the produce bin. Most recently, my world was rocked by the Baked Oatmeal, which has emphatically nudged its way into my top ten favorite recipes from this past year.  
INGREDIENT PAIRING: A mix of oats, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, toasted walnuts with the directive to use it to make the aforementioned Baked Oatmeal immediately.

For "The Big Salad" Orderer - The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli
- A new release that features recipes from the beloved Southern California mini-chain including the fan favorites Broccoli with Ricotta Salata, and Roasted Cauliflower with Curry Vinaigrette. Perfect for anyone, who like Elaine Benes, enjoys a "Big Salad" with more substance than just lettuce leaves, or just wants to learn the proper way to make a vinaigrette (Note: You're probably making it wrong).
INGREDIENT PAIRING: Assorted oils and vinegars.

For the Food Porn Addict - What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies
- This is the cookbook for the home cook who can't make a recipe that doesn't contain a picture. The stunning, Instagram-esque photos will leave your recipient drooling and inclined to drop everything to make a Wild Rice, Mint and Chickpea Salad if you're me, or a Rib-eye Steak with Anchovy Butter if you're, well, not me.
INGREDIENT PAIRING: Pretty plates from Anthropologie so the recipient can photograph and Instagram the fruits of their kitchen labor.

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