I was waiting in the checkout line at the store last week, and I overheard what looked like mother and daughter talking about their gift list. It seems as if the holiday shopping frenzy has already started. So, I said to myself, I better start going through the file of brochures I collect and notes I took at the food-related trade shows I attended and start picking the items I think those foodies on your gift list would enjoy. I appreciate those who tell me they look forward to these columns each year to help them find just-the-right gifts. There are so many, so look out for part two. The cookbook roundup will follow, too. You are bound to find some interesting titles for those cooks on your list and perhaps some to add to your own cookbook shelf.
Best wishes to you this holiday season and let the shopping begin — that is, if it hasn’t already started!
The environmentally-minded will appreciate the Market Tote. The canvas bag will come in handy at farmers markets, grocery stores, at a picnic or lunch at the beach. No more broken eggs, bruised fruit or crushed bread. Divide your purchases into the separate compartments and keep eggs, glass bottles and your most fragile foods intact. It is designed so the fresh bunch of flowers are attached to the outside of the bag, allowing them to drip on the ground rather than in the bag. At first, I thought it would just be another canvas bag, until I started to use it. It is available in four colors. https://bit.ly/2KeKBtH
Last year, I purchased the “Cooking with Love Provides Food for the Soul” calendar (https://bit.ly/2KgJ1Y9),and each month I’ve been inspired to make the featured recipe. I knew then, the 2020 calendar would need to be included here. The hand-drawn, beautiful designs are created by renowned chalk artist Valerie McKeehan. Some of the recipes include peppermint hot chocolate, macaroni and cheese, stuffed peppers, Caprese salad, peach cobbler and this recipe for Holiday Egg Nog.
Whisk 4 cups of milk and 11/3 cups sugar and cook over medium high heat. Pour into 12 whisked egg yolks. Cook on medium-low for 20-25 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of bourbon, if desired and 1 cup heavy cream. Garnish with nutmeg.
For the child who likes to cook, the Little Sous is the perfect gift for children 5-12 years of age. It turns the kitchen into a place where the family connects and kids learn to become creative, confident cooks. The monthly box includes: themed cooking lessons, recipes, food science, art, world culture, and kid-safe tools delivered to their door; Expertise + Inspiration from the online library, regularly updated with video techniques, kid-friendly recipes and tips from culinary greats; Community, by Connecting with other Little Sous families via a closed Facebook group, on Instagram and Pinterest. Choose a monthly, 6- or 12 month-subscription. https://bit.ly/2QffvG0
A great stocking stuffer is Snapi, a fun serving utensil designed to serve salads, fruit, pasta, veggies and other food with one hand. Resembling a happy clam, it features a convenient open/close locking mechanism for easy storage, and is dishwasher safe. It is the best gadget I have used to serve spaghetti and salad. https://bit.ly/2CEFGOp or https://bit.ly/3543IhQ
You’ll want to buy a package of Holiday Fried Pecans for yourself, too. And, you and the recipient won’t be able to eat just a few, I couldn’t! A little sweet and a little salty, they are 100 percent organic and gluten-free. The pecans are flash fried, just enough to get a crunch, but not enough to absorb much oil. Keith Baum, founder of the business, grew up in a plantation home in Louisiana surrounded by pecan trees. Growing up, he harvested the trees for his grandmother each year. Years later, his passion to be an entrepreneur blossomed when he stumbled upon a secret family recipe using the crop. Thanks to that recipe, now we can all satisfy our craving for this sweet and salty treat. They are great chopped up in salads, pancakes, ice cream, salads, and yogurt. https://bit.ly/2KiK5uS, www.holidayfriedpecans.com
You have to see the Automatic Pot Stirrer (https://bit.ly/2rIlGbB) to believe it. The people on your gift list will keep on thanking and thinking of you when they no longer have to stand over the stove and stir a pot for hours. With three selectable speeds, it prevents burning and frees up your hands to take on other food preparation steps. It is heat resistant up to 248 degrees. Just turn it on, and you’re set to make a perfect pot or pan of sauce, soup, oatmeal or gravy, without lifting another finger. Available in blue, grey and green. Uses 4 AA batteries. https://bit.ly/2NIL89c
The BeepEgg Perfect Egg Timer was invented by Dr. Rupprecht Gabriel. He couldn’t master the one task his family delegated to him in the kitchen, boiling eggs. Many of you, and those on your gift list, probably find it challenging to know when your eggs are soft-boiled, soft-medium or hard-boiled. Thanks to Dr. Gabriel, who cooked up a smart idea to help him in the kitchen. Rather than focus on time the eggs are cooked, he focused on temperature, and the BeepEgg Floating Egg timer was hatched. Imagine the laughs in the kitchen when “Oh Susanna” is played when the eggs are soft-boiled; “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when the eggs are medium-soft boiled; and “Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here,” when the eggs are hard-boiled. And those who want to hear patriotic songs, the patriotic designed version is available, too. (Soft Boiled: “Amazing Grace”; Medium-soft boiled: “Star Spangled Banner”; Hard Boiled: “America, the Beautiful”) Watch how it works at https://bit.ly/377dEsK.
Those with a sweet tooth will welcome a delivery of Fairytale Brownies. I have been a fan of Fairytale Brownies (www.brownies.com), the mail order gift company, for many years. Its beginning is quite sweet (no pun intended). In 1971, kindergartners Eileen Spitalny and David Kravetz dreamed that one day they would start and own a company. Since 1992 they have delivered millions of the most delicious brownies (a secret recipe of David’s mother) and other treats so good that they were featured on “Food Finds” and “Unwrapped” on The Food Network. The Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah (certified kosher) and holiday gift boxes are perfect to send to family and friends.
Stay tuned for part two for more unique gift for your family and friends. And, they don’t need to be a foodie to enjoy these gifts!
Big Taste at the Big Connect Business Expo, Nov. 21, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, 155 Temple St., New Haven; $20. Take one part tastings and add twice the amount of networking. The Big Taste is a phenomenal way to meet face-to-face with fellow business professionals. Pre-registration required. Sample menu specialties from some of Greater New Haven’s finest restaurants. I will host this event. For participating restaurants and registration, visit https://bit.ly/2K1bTUn.
Elm City Brew Festival, Nov. 23, 1-5 p.m., College Street Music Hall, 238 College St., New Haven. Tickets: $45 in advance, $50 at the door; $60 VIP tickets include early entrance at noon; $10 Designated drivers. Features 50-plus breweries, food vendors and music by local artists. For participating breweries, details and tickets, visit https://bit.ly/2q3wjVv.
Chefs of Our Kitchen Series, Dan Brelsford, professional Italian chef and full-time fireman. Dec. 11, 6 p.m., Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 203-285-2617, $65 includes pre-event reception and three-course dinner, with wine pairings. Dan was featured on the Food Network series “Chopped” in an episode called “Fire it Up,” which featured firefighter chefs and cooks. He will demonstrate the dishes being prepared as you enjoy dinner. Reservations required. Validated parking (bring parking ticket to event) at the Temple Street Garage. Proceeds benefit Gateway foundation. Tickets and series information at https://bit.ly/33GsZhW.
A Unique Holiday Tasting, Sherry, Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m., Ibiza Tapas, 1832 Dixwell Ave., Hamden, 203-469-4218; $85. Working together with the chef owners of Ibiza Tapas, Robert Colopy, wine educator and renowned expert of Spanish wine, is one of the most knowledgeable people in the country to address how to pair Sherry with food. For menu and tickets, visit https://bit.ly/2CC3Etx.
“Worth Tasting,” A New York City Culinary Experience, Dec. 16. I will meet you at Grand Central Terminal (GCT) at 1 p.m.; $275 includes full lunch with one beverage at Le Marais, with chef/owner Jose Meirelles. We’ll stop at Bookmarks Lounge on the rooftop of the Library Hotel for one beverage, before we head to the Brooklyn Museum (includes roundtrip MetroCards for subway between GCT and the Brooklyn Museum and back to GCT). VIP entry to the renowned NYC Latke Festival where we will eat our way through countless latke variations plus other holiday treats and open bar. You will have access to the exclusive VIP Lounge, with another open bar, a buffet of latke complimentary comestibles and another open bar. At 8:30 p.m., we will travel back to GCT and get you to your train for your return to New Haven. Limited to 10 people. More information at https://bit.ly/31rN8GH. Tickets, call Stephen at 203-415-3519.