That time of year again! I’ve sworn off malls, and almost any shopping until after the holidays. I find I have zero tolerance for the chaos of parking lots and stores. Somehow those places really dampen any holiday excitement that I do manage to have: folks that can’t manage to allow two-lane traffic in a wide lane, bumps in the butt with shopping carts, and the like. Not to mention the choice of music in so many stores. But if you still need to do some holiday shopping….

  • For the cookbook lover who has an incredible library but is constantly cursing about not being able to find a recipe, a membership to Eat Your Books will let them search those books, as well as magazines, and blogs for recipes. (Membership information here.) It is definitely worth the bit of effort it takes to get you books on you searchable bookshelf.
  • Bull City Olive Oil specializes in fine olive oils, vinegars, and other provisions (shipping is available). If you are local (Durham NC) you can taste before buying. I’d not been a particular fan of infused oils until I tasted some there. The combination of herbes de Provence infused oil and lavender infused balsamic vinegar makes an awesome vinaigrette!
  • Cooks always love herbs and spices–if you don’t want to make the decision on what to give Penzeys will provide a great selection from which to choose. Personally  I love the small jars, especially for things you want to try, but may not use in huge quantities. Although I don’t keep many mixes on hand I wouldn’t  want to be without the herbes de Provence–it’s the jar that I reach for when I am rushed or just can’t decide what to use.
  • Spirits are always welcome gifts. My latest “booze” discovery is from The Brothers Vilgalys Spirits. They produce Krupnikas, Jabberwock, Zapod, Beatnik, and Beebop. I know I’ve mentioned these before, but I think they still make an excellent gift.
  • For someone who wants to learn more about cooking, The Science of Good Cooking presents techniques used in the kitchen with some good recipes; eat well while you learn to understand what goes on in the kitchen. In the same understand-what-you’re-doing vein there’s  Cook’s Science Cook’s Illustrated .com, Cook’s Country.com or a subscription to  America’s Test Kitchen membership that can give access to these last three sites.
  • For someone who wants to butter their toast without using cold, hard to spread butter, the Butter Bell crock, or the Emile Henry butter pot, or a plethora of others which work on the principle of using a water seal to keep the butter from air exposure. Caveat: you do have to remember to change the water every couple of days, but it’s a pretty small effort for soft butter. (Unfortunately, I’ll have to mention a solution that doesn’t work although it seems like a nice idea: the Cook’s Innovations Butter Mill. According to reviews some do work–mine didn’t–the fine threads just didn’t catch so the butter moved down to the “grating” surface.)
  • Your toast eater might also appreciate some topping for that buttered toast: varietal honeys from Old Blue Raw Honey–an impressive selection–including poison ivy honey.
  • For the cook who wants to explore using fresh herbs there are seed collections of basic culinary herbs: seed disc collections (complete with pots) from Johnny’s Select Seeds,  or just collections of herb seeds.
  • The potato of the month club from Wood Prairie Family Farm might suit for a “meat and potatoes” person. The variety of potatoes is absolutely amazing–and yes, they do taste different from what we’re used to in the supermarket.
  • For excellent citrus fruits Mixon Fruit Farms can provide luscious fruit shipped right to the door–grapefruit, oranges, lemons, or other. Even the white grapefruit will surprise you.
  • There is always a gift certificate for Kindle books  (or other e-readers) and a Lékué popcorn popper to provide a cozy, relaxing evening. Of all the microwave popcorn poppers I’ve tried this is a hands-down winner.
  • For some exotics like truffle butter, game, kits for making cassoulet, or charcuterie (which you might be invited to share) D’Artagnan can likely provide what you want.
  • Finally, another option for relaxation to go with the book or the Kindle gift certificate, a good cup of tea would add a final touch. Check out what’s available from Harney & Sons provides an incredible variety. One of the things I like so much about getting my tea from them is that for a small charge you can get samples of the teas–enough to brew a pot to really taste the tea. Frankly, I love trying different ones, so I’d be happy with a selection of samples as a gift!

Some other gift suggestions here, here, and here–there may be some redundancy, but some thing appreciated by cooks never change. My redundancy will probably give you an idea of what I’ve had to replace during the year–e.g. Krupnikas!

Disclaimer:  I have neither affiliate connection nor do I receive any consideration from any of the sources suggested above–they’re simply my personal preferences, so you decide. I’m sure that some of the things are available from other sources as well, perhaps less expensively.

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