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Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: For Your Favorite Foodie

For this installment of our holiday gift guide, we're cooking up great ideas for your favorite connoisseurs of cuisine, the epicurean elitists, and the hopelessly kitchen-inept! Enjoy~


- Everyone loves a gorgeous salad bowl and utensils to toss with, it makes otherwise boring salad dinners a little more fancy and fun. Bamboo is a simple, renewable, elegant option for the kitchen, or a lovely glass serving set can double as a punch bowl. Obviously in my mind, the recipient of your gifts is a huge fan of tiki style. Punch and bamboo for everyone!

- Delight.com also has stylish, eco-friendly and artisan options for the home and kitchen, like this serving set that looks like branches sprouting leaves. Why not throw in a few simple recipes while you're at it and add a little touch of healthy encouragement?

Photo from Modcloth.com- We love ModCloth and their chemical elements salt and pepper shakers. How cute are they? Cooking is really just delicious chemistry, right? I am a huge sucker for adorably twee kitchen items. Check this one out, it's a salt and PEEP-er shaker! Love it.

- For your favorite dinner party maestro, the always adorable Fred Flare has the most amazing finger food plates. Just don't gesticulate too much with one of those perched on your mitts, or dinner will go flying everywhere! They're so dainty, I just can't stand it.

- Once upon a time, Jeanne gave me a copy of the best gosh-darned book on entertaining ever written: I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by my personal heroine, Amy Sedaris. It is quite possibly the best gift I have ever gotten, and so useful! Amongst the many and varied things I've learned from Ms. Sedaris since Strangers with Candy, seriously, exfoliating before shaving your legs to get a closer shave ranks up top. I highly recommend it. (Jeanne: Kati gave me this, too! So I think we all have a copy, except for maybe Kati. Karen, obviously this is what you need to get Kati to complete the circle.)

- Often at California's best antique malls, you'll see walls packed with vintage produce advertisements. Local restaurants have labels framed as wall decoration, and if you're a design nerd, produce labels offer a real plethora of font styles and a different kind of pin-up girl. The Antique Label Company has prints already framed and categorized, so get searching! How about some twins with lettuce, or a fun Pop Art cucumber?

- Make your own personalized cookbook for that special someone. Base it around a theme, like the recipient's favorite flower, a special meal you shared, or foods that trigger memories. I love the idea of this recipe from Wandering Chopsticks: Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Base Stew) for your relative/friend/associate with Korean connections. A similar recipe for those with a fondness for Japan is our perennial favorite here at the Periodic Elements of Style, nikujaga. A personalized cookbook is also a great way to encourage an adventurous palate. Why not nudge your "regular" meat-and-potatoes giftee towards a little bit of Bamboo Shoots with Ground Pork the Japanese Way to share? This year, I'm making a batch of Panamanian empanadas for my grandmother who has complained about the lack of authentic empanadas since she left the Panama Canal zone in 1974. (Shh, don't tell her!)


My family loves cookbooks; my late grandmother had an entire library of cookbooks that she collected over the years, and some of them made their way to me. She always had the right cookbook, and so I always love looking at them and discovering new things, even if I'm more of a "boil it! microwave it! whatever!" cook.

- Of course, the new cookbook is the internet, especially since there are some amazing foodbloggers out there. Not only does Karen have a bunch in her blogroll here on PeriodicStyle, but there's also the new BlogHer Food Blog search widget, where you can type in a recipe title or an ingredient and find something amazing to read and eat. Awesome.

- Last year, my brother and my two male cousins (both college students) received these cookbooks from my mom: A Man, A Can, A Plan or A Man, A Can, A Microwave. Besides the initial laugh of "oh, ha hah, cooking with a can and a microwave because I can't really cook anything without using can of microwave", they're put together by Men's Health magazine and actually look like something you'd want to eat. If you're trying to wean someone off of fast food and into the kitchen, this would be a good first step. (That said, I give everyone, dude or lady, full credit that they can definitely cook whatever they want if they put their mind to it.)

- The San Francisco area has the most amazing food and incredible restaurants, especially those that focus on local produce. I visited the girl & the fig in Sonoma a few weeks back and loved it, so I was excited to see the the girl & the fig cookbook in a cooking supply shop after leaving the restaurant. I didn't get a full look at the book, but I'm sure it's amazing. Another legendary restaurant in San Francisco is Greens, the vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason. My mom gave me a copy of Everyday Greens, the most recent Greens cookbook, last year, and (again) while I haven't had the chance to make anything from it yet, the sandwiches and salads all sound delicious and incredibly realistic to make.

- Maybe you have a little cook, or just the imagination of one. As a kid, I loved cookbooks that tied in to the stories I loved, whether it was fairy tales or the Boxcar Children. (How many hours did I spend pretending I lived in a boxcar? Many.) So while there's a whole range of childrens' stories cookbooks out there, two we particularly want to highlight are Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes (highly recommended by Karen) and the Little House Cookbook featuring recipes from the Laura Ingalls Wilder canon for those of you who always wanted to eat a roasted pig tail or a bear's drumstick. (Related: Have you seen HalfPintIngalls on Twitter? Hilarious!)

- Finally, the final course is my weakness, desserts. From San Francisco's Citizen cake comes Demolition Desserts, head chef Elizabeth Falkner's guide to amazing desserts. Again, I haven't poured over this one yet, but the cupcakes at Citizen Cake are amazing. (Alas, Citizen Cupcake, the satellite location in Virgin Records, has closed!) And then, of course, there are the amazing Paris Sweets, a recipe book that collects recipes from the finest (and most famous) Paris bakeries. I popped "paris sweets" into the BlogHer Food Blog search and found this amazing-looking black and white cake, eclairs with lavender white chocolate mousse, opera cake, world peace cookies (chocolate with fleur de sel salt!), and punition cookies. Oooh.

- Not related to cookbooks: tea. Buy tea. Buy Mariage Freres tea (there are more varieties here, but I can vouch for Marco Polo) and a nice teapot and you will not go wrong. I promise you.


Despite having cook in my job title, I don't actually cook that much when I'm off work. Why? Well, one of my main problems is I never seem to have all the ingredients and I have little desire to go out and procure foodstuffs to make things after work, when I can just go out and procure prepared food.

- Apparently Mark Bittman's cookbooks, How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian are amazing. Good to know!

- But what if you want to create your own recipes? Etsy has some adorable recipe cards, including these (kitties!) or these (bunnies! squirrels!) from BoyGirlParty and these from nutandbee.etsy.com.

- Need a spice rack? This one rotates and comes pre-filled with twenty different spices.

- After all of your cooking, you'll want to keep your leftovers and eat them later. Here's a set of Pyrex containers, which are microwavable (yay!).

image from modcloth.com

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