There is nothing better than holiday gifts that will carry your loved ones into the kitchen to practice their creativity and culinary skills.
At the International Food Blogger's Conference in Seattle last summer, all the attendees scored a heavy "swag bag" filled with all kinds of goodies to make a home cook's heart sing. There were two things in the bag that I have particularly enjoyed. One is a Microplane zester, it makes gathering citrus skin for zest so incredibly easy and is a finer quality than a standard cheese grater yields. If you have a baker in your life, they could very well appreciate one of these in their Christmas stocking.
I have also been enjoying "Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers" by Janet Fletcher. In addition to beautiful photographs and creative recipes that use seasonal ingredients, Fletcher profiles 10 American farms that offer community supported agriculture (CSA) shares. If you know someone who is interested in sustainable agriculture, this is a cookbook that supports this effort.
Or, if you know a foodie who perhaps enjoys eating and reading more than they do cooking, some food related memoirs that I have enjoyed in the past and still recommend include "The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food" by Judith Jones, "A Homemade Life," by Molly Wizenberg, "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China" by Fuschia Dunlop, and "Amarcord: Marcella Remembers" by Marcella Hazan.
The Stir It Up! bloggers also have some great gift ideas for the foodies on your Christmas list.
Sara Morris at Sprouted Kitchen is making jars of Meyers Lemon Curd to give as gifts.
Terry Boyd at Blue Kitchen says take all your foodie shopping online to the new Foodize site, which describes itself as "an online marketplace where you can discover and buy food directly from small passionate food producers and growers."
Sharon Anderson at Three Many Cooks says if you ask for one thing for Christmas this year it should be a dutch oven. "It allows me to make everyday soups and tomato sauces, deeply-flavored stews, and impressive braises," writes Sharon. "I cook pasta in it, I bake bread in it, I turn it into a double boiler. My Dutch oven’s heavy bottom and even heat conduction make it perfect for stirring up creamy risotto or polenta, making homemade pudding, or creating my own caramel sauce."
Jonny Seponara-Sills at We Are Never Full heartily recommends "Food & Friends: Recipes and Memories from Simca's Cuisine" by Simone Beck. "The culinary memoir has to be one of my favorite genres of both cookbooks and books in general," writes Jonny. "Combining anecdotes, family history and delicious recipes, and spanning literature and cuisine, there’s really nothing better than a cookbook that you can actually read."
Carol Ramos at The Pastry Chef's Baking is baking up a storm of goodies that she expertly packages into colorful cellophane packages and ships off to friends and family.
Christina Masters at The Rowdy Chowgirl says she received a surprisingly precious gift of grass-fed hamburger from her friend's farm.
Whatever cool gift you find, or whichever dazzling concoction you make in your kitchen to wrap up in bright bows, remember there is only one thing that counts: Give it with love. Because that's all that anyone really wants, anyway.
Enjoy the gift of giving!