Category Archives: Gift Guide

A Kitchen Gift Guide – Part Three: Media and Classes

This post contains some affiliate links.

This is the final part of a kitchen gift-guide designed to help with giving something meaningful to the cooks and bakers on your list. Most of these can be purchased at the last minute which is handy as we are down to the wire now.

Like the guides before, this is not a comprehensive list of books or subscriptions that I recommend for people. These are things that I like and think would make fun gifts. I’ve not been paid, compensated, or asked to feature any of the following items.

Subscriptions

The best gifts are ones that give a little bit of happy every time the receiver thinks about them. Subscriptions are my favorite things to gift to people because the giftee gets the present anew all year long.

Canal House Cooking – $49.95 for a one-year subscription, published three times a year.

Strongly reminiscent of the River Cottage cookbooks, Canal House Cooking is my favorite subscription-based food publication. I’m hesitant to call it a magazine as the issues are small, hard-bound books with no ads. It is more akin to getting three cookbooks a year in the mail. Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton self-publish Canal House with a focus on what is local and in season. One of the issues last year was titled “Farm Markets and Gardens” and we used every fantastic tomato recipe in the book. Hirsheimer and Hamilton always manage to keep from sounding as if they’re looking down their noses as they write, though; they devoted a following volume to “The Grocery Store.” It is balanced writing with understated photography in a pretty package.

Gastronomica – $50.00 or $28 for student/retirees for a one-year subscription, published quarterly.

Gastronomica is not a cooking magazine. It is a journal (meaning it is a peer-reviewed publication) with book reviews, poetry, articles on food in culture, art, history and writing. There are no recipes in Gastronomica save for ones used to drive home a point in a story, and even those types are few. The stories are varied– from Gastronomica I’ve read articles about an art exhibition using breast milk and the subsequent controversy, another about a town’s devotion to Fluff, a fiction piece on working in a prison kitchen, a non-fiction article detailing a family kitchen aging through generations, a poem connecting food and grief… The journal is about food in every aspect of life, not just confined to a restaurant or home kitchen.

Digital Media

Eat Your Books – $25.00 for a one-year subscription

This could fall under the above category, but it is online instead of the mailbox so I’ve put it here.

The best way to describe Eat Your Books is as a master index of your cookbooks. After adding cookbook titles to a virtual personal library, searching for an ingredient or technique in all of the recipes in your books takes a moment instead of an entire morning. The idea behind EYB is that if you can easily search your cookbooks, you’ll use them. It works: I use the site several times a week and books that I would’ve never thought to look in for a certain recipe get pulled off of the shelf and used.

There are some drawbacks to the site. While they have lots of books and are constantly indexing more, they don’t have every book under the sun in their database. They also don’t provide page numbers for the recipe. I assume this is so they don’t have to index multiple releases of essentially the same book, but it would be nice to eliminate the step of looking up the recipe again in the cookbook after I’ve looked it up on EYB. Minor irritations aside, the gift of a year’s subscription to the website would make a homerun gift for someone with a sizable cookbook collection.

Ratio App by Michael Ruhlman – $4.99

Available for the handheld iThings and Droids, Ruhlman’s Ratio app takes the meat of his book, Ratio, and puts it in its most simple form for the app. Ratio outlines 32 ingredient ratios for cooking and baking (doughs, batters, sauces, sausages, etc.) with the idea that if you know a basic ratio you don’t need a recipe. The application cuts through the chatty writing of the book by featuring an easily read pie chart and ingredient calculator for each ratio, along with pertinent instructions. Put on an iTunes giftcard, this is another great gift for someone with a big cookbook collection. The Ratio app is also a wonderful idea for someone who is just beginning to cook as it gives them freedom to play around with flavors while learning the basics of what has to be in a recipe to make it work.

Classes

Like subscriptions, I enjoy giving classes as gifts because they give the receiver something to look forward to after the initial present opening.

Wilton Decorating Classes – Prices Vary, but about $30.00

I took the first course of Wilton Decorating Classes and it was fantastic. I ditched their frosting recipe (shortening and powdered sugar? Eugh.), but I use the piping techniques every time I make a cake. Usually offered at hobby stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby over several weeks, the instructors are good and coursework well-explained. In the first course, they teach basic piping (how to frost a cake, shells, Swiss dots, writing, flowers, and roses) and there are subsequent courses with more advanced techniques. Invaluable for anyone interested in cakes, it would also make for fun parent-child outings as I can see a 12-year old having a blast learning how to make a cake look fancy.

Sur La Table classes – $59.00 and up

Sur La Table offers classes ranging from fundamental (knife skills) to focused (Thai restaurant favorites). Each class is a single class that runs for a few hours. I am particularly drawn to the knife skills class as a gift since knowing how to properly hold and use a knife makes the difference between a sloppy dish and an impressive one. Currently they are offering a “4-Hour Fearless Baking Workshop” and I can think of more than a few people who would love to go to that.

Books

I could never have enough books. I see cookbooks as something nearly magical: put this, this, and that in a pot and POOF, something new altogether. I’ve found cookbook collectors have varying reasons as to why they collect books, but if you know a little about what they like to cook and eat then it’s easier to pick out a book for them.

For The Baker:

Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum – $26.37

If you know a serious baker (and I mean serious), chances are they have Beranbaum’s Cake Bible. It’s probably falling apart, covered in egg whites and chocolate, too. Heavenly Cakes is Beranbaum’s follow-up to the hallowed Cake Bible, 20 years later. It is a big, fat book (just how I like ’em) with a cache of varied recipes and photos that I’ve had to wipe drool off of. The food styling is so lovely. Heavenly Cakes has a few recipe repeats from The Cake Bible, but the fact that she simplified some of the steps from the old recipes earns a big HALLELUJAH from me instead of a squinty glare that recipe-repeaters normally get (I’M SQUINTING AT YOU, COOK’S ILLUSTRATED).

Please listen to me when I recommend this book for bakers with experience under their belt. I wrote about making one of the cakes here and it was a multi-day undertaking. Many of the recipes have several components and are complicated, so this is not a book for someone who just graduated from a boxed mix. If you give Heavenly Cakes to a novice baker, it (and some frosting) probably will come flying back at your head at a later date.

If you’re looking for a book to give to a beginner baker, give them Cook’s Illustrated’s Baking Illustrated.

For the Time-Pressed:

Radically Simple by Rozanne Gold – $23.06

I bought this book on impulse, looking for something to rely on when the baby had frazzled the last whatever it is that gets frazzled. I had never heard of Gold and had not seen any reviews for the book, but I made a few shallow digs and turned up four James Beard awards to her name (I later found that she had a staggering history in the food industry as well) and that was good enough for me. I ordered the book with high expectations but did not think that I would love it so much. There are a few niggling things that bother me about Radically Simple (I would’ve liked to see different photos rather than the same photos repeated multiple times on a page, and swirly text over photos goes against my grain) but it was, by far, my favorite book of 2010.

Gold writes that the recipes in this book are regarded as “a three dimensional creation, with time, technique, and the number of ingredients making up the axes on which they are plotted.” Some of the recipes have a long list of ingredients but are simple to prepare, others require foresight and not much else, and with others you need to focus on technique to make everything come together. The book is incredibly well-organized with an impressive recipe range. I joke that this book is for people who don’t have a lot of time but still have STANDARDS, DAMMIT.

For those with Warm or Ambiguous Feelings on Salads:



Mediterranean Fresh
by Joyce Goldstein – $12.00

You could probably convert a salad-hater into a salad-okeyer with this book (I’ve found most salad-haters are firmly stuck in their position and take great pains to not be moved from it), but the only reason I wouldn’t recommend this for salad-haters is because I don’t want to incite a fight on the holiday of your choice. Mediterranean Fresh is the book I lend out most frequently and border on being rude about having it returned. When I first read the book I shelved it quickly because Goldstein has a lot to say about lettuce and I wasn’t ready for that level of commitment. I was well-rewarded when I got my gumption up. Her fattoush is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten (it’s nice when you can make those “best things I’ve ever eaten” at home) and one time I ate an entire recipe’s worth of another salad in a sitting because it was so good (one time. It had an entire head of cauliflower in it and, while delicious, was not the best decision I’ve ever made.).

The book is more than leafy salads: there are grain salads, vegetable salads, salads with meat and seafood, and a giant section of the book is devoted to salad dressings. It is not a light or ‘healthy’ cookbook, although there are light and healthy dishes within.

So they like Weird Recipes?:



The Essential New York Times Cookbook
by Amanda Hesser – $20.82

‘Weird’ is stretching it, but this book is dear to my heart because the recipes are not standard fare. Unusual techniques and interesting food combinations are packed in and Hesser’s headnotes assure you a magnificent outcome if you give the recipe a chance. I never have all of the ingredients called for and I like that. I’m getting out of my normal cooking routine and that encourages growth and learning.

The Essential New York Times isn’t an overarching “best of” The New York Times, but is a collection of NYT recipes recommended by readers to Hesser. Hesser then made them all and put her favorites in the book, giving some recipes a moderate makeover but leaving others in their original form, instructions and all (the ones from the early 1900s are worth checking out). Her headnotes are entertaining and encouraging; this is certainly sit-down-and-read book.

If part three didn’t help you with your gifts, check out part one and part two for more ideas.

A Kitchen Gift Guide – Part Two: Edibles

This is part two of a kitchen gift-guide I’m writing as the holidays and their shopping are at full tilt. The first post covered equipment and the following guide has edible items.

Like the equipment guide, this is not a comprehensive list of things that should be in someone’s pantry. These are things that I like and have found that not everyone has them in their kitchen. I’ve not been paid, compensated, or asked to feature any of the following items although this post does contain some affiliate links.


Aleppo pepper – $6.25 for 1.9oz

From Turkey and used frequently in Eastern Mediterranean food, crushed Aleppo pepper also seems to have quite the fan club among BBQ-lovers. I am not a raving BBQ fan but I am sweet on this pepper. When eaten straight it tastes a smidge like an Ancho pepper. It is somewhat chocolatey, but the peppery flavor is certainly there along with moderate heat. I use this in a bunch of recipes from Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean and The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. When I’m feeling fancy I use Aleppo pepper instead of standard crushed red pepper. In less refined matters, I am not ashamed to say that I also put it on pizza in large amounts. In short, it’s good for all occasions.


Kashmir Mogra Cream Indian Saffron – $12.55 for .5g

Saffron is expensive– if you’ve any notion of herbs and spices, you know this. You may not know that only a little saffron is needed in any given recipe and that bit goes a long way. When it is added in excess, it makes the dish taste bitter and metallic. Half of a gram of saffron doesn’t seem like much to give as a gift, but it is plenty. Saffron is called for in everything from Italian to Indian to Spanish to Iranian food and there is nothing that comes close to saffron’s flavor and the color it gives to food. If you’re set on giving someone who cooks an herb or spice but are clueless as to what they like to make, I promise saffron will not sit unused in their kitchen.


Piment d’Espelette – $14.25 for 1.4oz

Piment d’Espelette is a pepper grown in a southern French town named (wait for it) Espelette. Common in southern French cooking, lately I’ve seen it cropping up in newer cookbooks and lots of blogs. On my bookshelves it is repeatedly on ingredient lists in Ad Hoc, Around My French Table, and (obviously) The Cooking of Southwest France. Currently, it is a little hard to find but Amazon carries the brand I have in my spice drawer. Different peppers can’t really be substituted for piment d’Espelette. It has a big, tomato-like taste and substantial heat, all while being lemony and bright. It would be a nice gift for someone who appreciates spicy and their taste buds at the same time.



Smoked Spanish Paprika (Sweet)
– $10.25 for 2.64oz

Paprika and parsley share a similar history in my kitchen. Paprika never tasted like anything to me and I always omitted parsley from dishes because of the same thing. One day I replaced my paprika with fresh stock and eventually started using flat-leaf parsley instead of curly-leaf parsley. Now I shake my head at my old self and try to get everyone on my Fresh Paprika Flat Parsley bandwagon. I use hot Hungarian paprika or sweet Spanish smoked paprika depending on the recipe, but Spanish smoked paprika is my favorite. It is smokey, sultry, and REALLY DOES HAVE A FLAVOR. Paprika does (seriously!) need to be fresh to be worthwhile. Anyone who loves cooking Spanish food would love this, especially if paella is their thing.


Ras al Hanout
– $7.95 for 2oz

I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but ras al hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that I keep running into everywhere. I first saw it in Couscous and Other Good food from Morocco, then in Radically Simple, and after that it kept popping up. Most recently Ideas in Food had a very inspiring post about it. Like a BBQ rub, the composition of ras al hanout varies depending on from whom you buy it. According to Zamouri Spices’ website, their blend from is made up of over 30 spices and herbs. I generally don’t buy spice mixtures, but I am so inspired by all of the recipes I keep seeing that I’ll forego ‘generally don’t’ and happily add this to my spice drawer. Like those tart pans, receiving spices that inspire you is a two-fold gift.


Ground Sumac – $3.95 for 2.0oz

Sumac is a stunning shade of purple, contrary to what this photo shows. Like Aleppo pepper, it is used often in Eastern Mediterranean food. Sumac has a tart lime taste and I was swept off of my feet by it when I used it in Sumac Chicken with Bread Salad from Finamore’s Tasty. I’ve sprinkled it on hummus, rubbed it on kebabs and, since it is so citrusy, I think it would be right at home on fajitas or street-style tacos. My sister had an aversion to this spice (she called it “the itchy spice” in reference to poison sumac) until I made her the aforementioned sumac chicken. I received an e-mail requesting the recipe not long after. Don’t let the name turn you away from sumac. It is neither poisonous nor itchy (it’s pretty and purple! That’s more than some people have going for them!), and well-loved by everyone I’ve introduced to it.



Fleur de Sel
– $8.99 for 6.1oz

Fleur de sel is how I imagine snowflakes would taste if they were made of salt. Fleur de sel is flakes of almost impossibly crunchy salt usually used for ‘finishing’ dishes. Since it doesn’t dissolve immediately, flakes are sprinkled on food before serving for a hit of salt with a lot texture. I like it because you can use it in sweet applications (caramels!) or in savory dishes (scattered over fish or beef right before serving). If your giftee is way into salt, you could give them a set of a few different specialty salts, like this one, which has fleur de sel, Alaea salt, and black lava salt. I’ve never had those last two, but I’d really like to say “Could you pass the black lava salt, please?”


Vanilla Beans – $6.99 for .25 POUND of Tahitian vanilla beans

Years ago I found this seller on eBay when I was browsing a thread at eGullet on making your own vanilla extract. I ordered a pound of beans which came with a free quarter-pound package of beans (about 30-40 beans). They were beautiful, fat, fresh, pliable beans.

This year I finally managed to get through the quarter-pound package. That was a lot of beans.

What this means is that can possibly do all of your kitchen-related holiday gift shopping for under $10.00. If you have three or four people who love cooking, you could buy these vanilla beans, divvy them up into pretty glass bottles, tie some ribbon and bells around them and you’re done. Each jar will have a lot of beans in it and you will look amazing. Have you seen the price for two shriveled vanilla beans at the grocery store? Exactly. Bakers will especially appreciate a gift of these beans since they are called for in many frostings, custards, and glazes.



Walnut oil
– Three 16.9oz bottles for $21.97

I am an olive oil person. I’m fascinated by olive oil’s flavors; one type may taste grassy, the next like butter. Unless I’m using extreme heat, I use it whenever I cook. I have a confession, though: I love walnut oil. When I have it on hand it is my default choice for salad dressings, swirling into soups, and brushing onto sandwiches in mayonnaise’s (or olive oil’s) stead. Unlike olive oil’s loud and enthusiastic flavor, walnut oil is gentle and quiet. That is not to say the flavor is demure, it just doesn’t haul back and sock you in the face like olive oil sometimes does. Walnut oil can go rancid quickly, so it’s best to use it up in a timely manner (no problems with that here) and store it in the refrigerator between uses. If you don’t have three people to give walnut oil (since this links to a bulk package), you can find single bottles at well-stocked grocers. Make sure the oil is in an opaque bottle and that it is ‘roasted’ or ‘toasted’ walnut oil. The opaque bottle and roasted factor keep the oil from going rancid as quickly. I’d wrap this up for anyone who likes salads, sandwiches, or soups.

The last leg of this marathon will cover media. Books, magazines, journals… all of my favorite things. I’ll try not to rhapsodize too much.

A Kitchen Gift Guide – Part One: Equipment

A handful of people have asked me about what gifts to get for people who love to cook at home, so I thought a shopping guide might be helpful for those wandering the aisles of specialty kitchen stores, sifting through the offering of unitaskers upon unitaskers.

This is part one in a series of posts I’ll be writing in the upcoming week(s) as holiday shopping gets into high gear. Kitchen equipment is first, with Ingredients and Media to follow.

First and foremost, know that this is not an exhaustive list of equipment that someone should have in their home kitchen. You will notice that there are no knives, pots, or baking pans in my list. I’ve not been paid, compensated, or asked to feature any of the following items. I simply love them and, at one point or another (or now), would’ve loved to open a box containing them. I think most other cooking-inclined people would, too.

The prices displayed are from Amazon.com. Prices fluctuate on Amazon a lot, so the prices may have changed since the publishing of this post. This post contains some affiliate links.

High-Temperature Digital Thermometer – $20.17

I am big on enabling people (in positive things, of course). A high-temperature thermometer, a/k/a a candy thermometer, opens up an entirely new realm of cooking. You can make candy, perfect chicken fried steak, fudge, fried chicken, frostings upon FROSTINGS, and many more things that are not very good for you.

The thing about making and eating things that aren’t very good for you is that when you do eat them, they better be the BEST horrible thing for you that you ever ate. A thermometer will help you get your oil hot enough for stupendous fried chicken. Get your sugar to the correct temperature and you’ll have a syrup or candy or caramel. This is the Number One kitchen gift I recommend (that’s why I put it first. ahHA!). With ONE gift you’ve given the lucky thermometer receiver a million new recipes.

Note: Amazon shows some negative reviews for this particular brand but I’ve never had a problem with mine.


Digital Food Scale
– $25.00

Another gift that falls into the Enabler group of presents is a scale. Give someone a candy thermometer and they can try a bunch of new recipes. A scale works the same way: there are lots of recipes that are only given in weights or ratios. Like the thermometer, a scale also brings a higher degree of precision to a kitchen. Measuring cups vary widely across brands, and ingredients can be packed into cups improperly. Using weight as a measurement instead of volume is much more accurate. With a scale there is a lot less playing rodeo with a bunch of different measuring implements: simply add the weight called for of one ingredient, zero out the scale, and pour in the next one. While I use mine most for baking, I also pull it out frequently when I am measuring meat or developing recipes.


Mini Tart Pans
– $15.99

Although I normally refer to tarts and pies as ‘my dearly beloathed,’ mini tart pans make me want to try pie crust ONE more time. I think it is because (most) everything is better in miniature and the idea of giving each person their own teeny tart makes me want to personalize desserts or appetizers for everyone. Of course, that leads to searching out new recipes, trying new flavor combinations, and generally being inspired. It is the gift of inspiration in bakeware. And now you’re the best gift-giver ever.


Bowl Scraper attachment for KitchenAid
– $27.45

I don’t have one of these but I would like one very much. I normally get one or two spatulas dirty when making cakes and have to stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times during mixing. Looking like a squeege that got bent out of shape, this attachment is built to eliminate scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl. Brilliant! You need to know what type of KitchenAid your giftee has, so maybe invite yourself over for dinner sometime and do a cruise by their KitchenAid. By getting rid of the need for spatulas during mixing, the attachment would save dishwasher space and time, essentially bringing about world peace.


Pre-cut Parchment Rounds – $4.02

Unnecessity of unnecessities. That’s why it’s a present. Why are cut flowers so nice when you’re on the receiving end? They don’t multitask, after all. You like them because they’re pretty and they make you smile. Unless you’re allergic to them.

That’s beside the point.

Pre-cut parchment rounds are my cut flowers. With these I don’t have to do the kitchen equivalent of folding a fitted sheet just to make sure my cake sponges don’t stick to the bottom of the pan; I simply slip a round into the pan and save the paper rustling for present opening. They are a definite luxury and not something I have all the time, but I’d love getting them for a gift. Fortunately for you, they are inexpensive and, if the receiver is a baker, quite thoughtful.


Knife Sharpener
– $169.95

This is not the sexiest of gifts. It does not wink at you or slip into something more comfortable. What it does do is make knives screamingly sharp. With a sharp knife you can cut tomato slices paper-thin and you don’t have to resort to cursing silverskin off of meat. Now we’re moving towards something more attractive. Your present-receiver can do justice to the expensive-ass knife set they bought as soon as they graduated college and got their own place (because they haven’t sharpened their knives since!). Knives need sharpening through a machine (or on a whetstone, but I am not recommending that for the average home cook) about once a year and in the long run it is cheaper than taking them somewhere to be sharpened.

Plus, it’s pretty fun. My husband got me this knife sharpener for my birthday one year and I spent the whole day smiling and sharpening knives. Make of that what you will.


Microplane Grater
– $11.19

This is great for a stocking stuffer or for the present-givers who are on a budget (i.e.: everyone). I use this grater more than I use my standard graters. I consider it a kitchen essential, one that many kitchens lack. Perfect for zest without the pith and cheese of all types, it creates soft, fine shavings. Lemon zest makes a regular appearance in recipes I prepare frequently so I use and love my Microplane to death. I recently started using it on soft cheese as well as hard cheese and not much beats little poufy cheese clouds on top of everything.


Coffee Grinder for Spices
– $18.88

Every now and then, when my husband is especially trying, I contemplate using his coffee grinder to make a spice rub. There’s nothing like a bit of cumin coffee to get your morning really going. Revenge aside, a coffee grinder specifically for spices is fantastic to have in the kitchen. I put this in my gift guide because it is an item that most people will not buy because they ‘don’t really NEED it.’ Yes, they could just buy pre-ground spices, however whole spices retain their potency much longer than their ground counterparts. If someone is equipped with a grinder, they can buy spices whole with the ability to grind only as much as they need. The rest stay fresh and can be kept for longer than ground spices with more punch in the end result. Many curry recipes call for pastes made from toasted and freshly ground spices, and who doesn’t want to make a mean curry? This is another Enabler gift. This particular brand of grinder will GRIND THE SHIT out of anything, including star anise, and it has different coarseness settings. Like the knife sharpener, a coffee grinder isn’t especially snazzy, but if you were to include whole, pretty spices in the gift it would be a lovely present.


Cuisineart Ice Cream Maker
– $57.49

If ever my house was on fire and I had to save only one small appliance, it would be my ice cream maker.

These are the things I think of when I can’t sleep.

Ice creams, sorbets and granitas each have all of the spectacular elements of cooking: flavor play, transformation, texture, temperature… And then there are all the toppings that can be made to go along with the ice cream! My heart is all aflutter over frozen desserts. While hand-crank ice cream machines are fine and dandy, I’m willing to bet you a pint of Ben & Jerry’s that the ‘rustic’ fun of churning that ice cream by hand is going to wear off after the first batch. This machine is easy. Make a custard (or not. There are a lot of custardless ice creams. Like polenta ice cream or coconut ice cream with saffron or regular old vanilla), cool it, and then pour it in the machine for half an hour. Boom. Ice cream. As a giver of this gift, I can practically guarantee that the receiver will thank you by making you some ice cream. It’s a win-win situation.


Cast-Iron Pizza Pan
– $34.97

I’ve been through several pizza stones in recent years and am loathe to buy one more crack-prone stone or deal with tiles (the cheap alternative) in my oven. In lieu of a stone, I have been making pizzas in my cast-iron pan. I get the pan very hot, pile the crust and toppings in it, and put everything in the oven. I love these pizzas: the crust is amazing from the combined heat of the oven and pan and the crust even holds when lifting the pie out of the pan. Plus, the pan handle makes for easy in and out of the oven. The only thing I don’t love about the pizzas is the size. My pan is only 9″ and it makes a pizza big enough for two people. Don’t get me started on the logistics of making pizza for more than two people with only one pan. I had resigned myself to small (but delicious) pizzas until I saw this pizza pan. It even has handles! Like the bowl scraper, I don’t own it, but I’ve been dropping thinly-veiled hints (mostly “I would like this for Christmas”) for my husband. Steak is the only thing that he likes more than pizza, so in reality, we would both benefit from a big, cast-iron pizza pan (our waistlines doth protest). Besides pizza, I can only imagine how it would cook a bunch of fennel, endive, or even a bunch of cauliflower slices– think of the mass caramelization (the waistlines doth rejoice!)! If you can think of no one on your shopping list to give this to, I’ll gladly take it.

If none of these recommendations seem to fit any of the people on your list, maybe spices or cookbooks would be more fun to give. A Kitchen Gift Guide – Part Two is full of pantry items (that aren’t flavored olive oil and vinegar) and Part Three has media items stacked up on one another.

If you can’t wait for those posts, you can always opt to give some coal.