Gift Guide 2019: The Spices of Life

November 26, 2019

I blame the New York Times’ Ligaya Mishan for my latest spice obsession. Last summer she posted a picture of the staples she was taking away on vacation, and I noticed a bottle of fermented sumac among the spices. I’d been looking for sumac, so I immediately ordered some of my own from Burlap and Barrel.

But I didn’t stop there. This young company sources directly from farmers all over the world, and I was intrigued by black lime, by Urfa peppers, by wild mountain cumin, by what they promised would be the best cinnamon of my life. Before I knew it, I’d ordered more spices than I could possibly use, so I’ve started sharing them with friends.

These are really wonderful, and very intense spices Any cook would be thrilled with a single jar, or one of their many gift packs.

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Here’s to Herbs

November 25, 2019

It snowed last night, and I’m kicking myself for not harvesting the last of the parsley, sage and thyme before it was too late.

If I had one of these herb-drying racks, perhaps I would have remembered to beat the frost. So I’m ordering one now – and a few for friends. They’re inexpensive – and there’s nothing like a few hanging herbs to make a kitchen feel friendly.

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Gift Guide 2019: Pining for This

November 24, 2019

Would you be shocked to learn that the pinenuts you’re most likely using in your pesto come from China or Siberia?

I was. On a recent trip to Italy I couldn’t help noticing that the pinoli in the markets were much larger than the ones I buy at home.

Back in my own kitchen, I scrutinized the pinenuts in my freezer. (They’re filled with oil, which means that left in the cupboard they quickly go bad.) Sure enough, the label said something about the various countries the pinenuts might have come from, and not one of them was Italy or the United States.

I took out a handful and laid them next to the ones I’d bought in Italy. Half the size! Then I tasted them: half the flavor too.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful and inexpensive gift for a cook, you could hardly do better than Gustiamo Pinoli which are organically grown and harvested by hand. I can’t think of a better way to stuff a stocking.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Ladles Only

November 23, 2019

This may be the most elegant kitchen object ever created. A friend recently gave me one as a gift – a very generous gift I might add – and I find myself simply staring at it each time I walk into the kitchen.

And then I find myself reaching for it, and petting its smooth, silky shape.

Woodworker Joshua Vogel created this covetable creation. (It is also available in black.) While you might not be willing to spring for it for yourself (it’s a very expensive spoon), it really does make a spectacular gift.

Maple ladle at blackcreekmarket.com

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Gift Guide 2019: Breading Lights

November 22, 2019

Have you ever seen anything more adorable? These bread lights – which are made of real bread coated in resin – come in various shapes and sizes. The small ones (croissants, rolls, etc.), run on batteries.

The large ones plug into wall sockets.

Hand-made in Japan by a former baker, pampshades begin as real loaves of bread, meaning that no two are exactly alike.

I’ve linked directly to the source in Japan, but if you peruse the retail outlets on the website you will find shops in various states that carry varying versions of the little lights.

Who would want one? Any bread-lover – and doesn’t that mean almost all of us? Now all we need is a companion butter light.

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