Tis the Season

I’ve been a busy little elf ever since I made those Cranberry Chestnut Cookies, and while my list of things to do seems to be getting shorter, as I go about my holiday preparations, I continue to spot the most adorable and charming things…gifts that…

Tis the Season

I’ve been a busy little elf ever since I made those Cranberry Chestnut Cookies, and while my list of things to do seems to be getting shorter, as I go about my holiday preparations, I continue to spot the most adorable and charming things…gifts that would make food lovers swoon.

Sometimes it can be so hard to find thoughtful presents for people who enjoy cooking and entertaining. You may not think so stepping into your favorite cookware store, but chances are, the ardent cook in your life may already have that gleaming set of stainless steel cookware or that snazzy French mandoline. They may already have the professional grade espresso machine with the matching set of espresso cups. It can be hard to know what nifty gadgets lurk in their kitchen drawers.

I thought it might be fun to share my picks in the first-ever Kitchen Confidante Holiday Gift Guide. There’s something for every food lover, young and old, and chances are, even if they have one of these items, they would gladly welcome another, especially if it’s charming. (I know I would love to receive any of these things!) And of course, no one can resist a homemade gift, so I’ve included a recipe for a classic Sugar Cookie, along with an adorable way to package it.

I know this is a departure from my normal posts, but I just couldn’t help it. Besides, I figured even Santa could use a little help.

Kitchen Confidante Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Disclaimer: Items selected in this gift guide were chosen solely by me, and were in no way sponsored by their respective companies. I selected items that I would love to buy for loved ones (and for myself!). Some are available at major retailers, and some support talented artisans and small businesses, however, all may be purchased online, and I provide links for you to do so. Happy holidays and happy shopping!

For the Seasoned Cook

I can never have enough measuring spoons in the kitchen. When I’m cooking a full meal and baking, inevitably, I run out of clean measuring spoons. I love these porcelain Key Ingredient Measuring Spoons from Anthropologie. Each handle is shaped like an antique key!

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I go through a LOT of garlic in my kitchen. After all, I do live a short drive away from Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World. Flying Pig Pottery on Etsy crafts the most beautiful Garlic Jar – it’s vented opening are not only decorative, they allow air to circulate and keep the garlic fresh.

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There was a time when spices were worth their weight in gold, so why not treat them well? I love these L’Epice Jars from Anthropologie. As a friend of mine noted, don’t they look like Pooh Bear’s Hunny Pots?

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Last Christmas, my husband gave me the best present ever: a personalized chef’s coat. I may not be a professional chef, but as someone who is constantly hovering over a stove, I can certainly appreciate the protection the jacket provides my clothes. My arms are grateful for the long sleeves that guard it from splatter and burns, and the tie back shows off my girlish figure. I wear it nearly every day, and you can find it at Chef Uniforms.

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For the New Cook

My favorite cutting board is by Epicurean, and while the new cook in your life will surely appreciate this, even seasoned cooks will love one (or two or three). Like measuring spoons, I firmly believe you can never have enough cutting boards. I have several Epicurean boards in different sizes, but would always welcome more – when one is in the dishwasher, it’s nice to have a clean one ready. You can find these at Whole Foods, Sur La Table, and Williams-Sonoma, to name just a few.

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If you can only have one pan in the world, this is the one I would choose. When I moved to my first apartment, I bought a relatively cheap set of pots and pans – if I could do it over, I would have bought the 3-quart All Clad Stainless Saute Pan. It’s the pan I still use the most, and is so versatile, whether it is for frying, braising, roasting or stewing.

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Alright, I know anyone would love an adorable apron, but when you’re starting out in the kitchen, sometimes that extra touch of sass is what you need to get motivated. This would make a perfect present for a new bride or that twenty-something who is getting her feet wet entertaining friends. Fellow food blogger Megan Carroll, the voice behind tomato tots and Kitsch in the Kitchen, also runs the Etsy storefront A Kitschy Kitchen, with some of the most beautiful aprons. Who wouldn’t want to wear one of these?

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For the Entertainer

I have a penchant for cake stands, and there was a time when I would scour the earth (and eBay) for antique pedestal cake stands. So when I see unique pieces, I can’t help but swoon. This one of a kind Cake Pedestal is made of one slab of gorgeous clay at Big SkyArtworks on Etsy. I can just imagine the goodies you can present on this beauty.

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Whenever I see beautiful wine bottle stoppers, I always think it would make a lovely hostess gift. And with all those holiday parties ahead of us, who wouldn’t be dazzled by the Glass Jewel Wine Bottle Stoppers at Sur La Table or the Doorknob Bottle Stoppers at Pottery Barn? Of course, if it’s a serious party, and the wine is a-flowing, there may not be a need for a stopper, but they sure are pretty.

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You can’t have wine without cheese, and I find this Bone Cheese Knife Set from West Elm particularly elegant. This set of four has everything you need to serve both hard and soft cheeses.

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For the Tasters

Last Spring, I stumbled across Honey & Gold by The Health Foodie Artisan Eats in a desert farmer’s market in Arizona. I couldn’t stop raving about it, to my family, to my friends, and to you. I even cooked with it. At the time, they were only available for purchase at local Arizona farmer’s markets, but they are now available for purchase online! I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, since I used up every last bit of my Avocado Honey. The Creamy Wildflower is heavenly, too.

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Avid bakers seek out the best quality vanilla when they bake, and they will surely love this trio of World Vanillas from Williams-Sonoma. The set includes vanilla extracts from Mexico, Tahiti and my favorite, Madagascar. I use this in all my baking, and for the best vanilla ice cream.

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For the Little Foodies

I’m always on the hunt for ways to reduce waste when I pack lunches for my little ones. The young foodies in your life will have everything they need for an earth-friendly lunch in these Waste-Free Lunch Kits from uncommon goods.

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I also love the 2-tier Decole bento boxes. You can get them at Japanese Gift Market; the 2-tier bento box has a divider to compartmentalize food and a snap top lid. My daughter loves the whimsical design, and I love that I can fit a sandwich, fresh fruit and a treat, all in one container.

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What child doesn’t love to bake cookies? A Year of Cookie Cutters at Crate and Barrel gives you twelve cutters, one for each month! From Christmas trees to Fourth of July stars, you’ll be covered!

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Something Homemade

And of course, the best gifts are homemade. Whether you bake or craft something from the heart, personalize your packages with these customizable Holiday Gift Tags from Heather Ann Designs. I am a long standing fan of Heather’s digital scrapbook designs, and I love to use her gift tags whether I am making birthday party favors or Valentine treats. These holiday gift tags are easy to use on Photoshop and can be customized with your favorite photos and text.

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Here is a recipe for a classic sugar cookie that would be lovely with your custom packaging. If you have holiday cookie cutters, then you’re all set! This recipe comes from Ann Clark Cookie Cutters, and you can find even more cookie recipes on her site.

Sugar Cookies

Recipe from Ann Clark Cookie Cutters.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted

Preheat oven 350° F.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour until well incorporated. Chill dough for at least 3 hours. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shape. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Lovely plain or decorated!

Sugar Cookie Frosting

Recipe from Ann Clark Cookie Cutters. Yields 1/3 cup.

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Melt butter and combine all ingredients. Beat with a whisk until smooth.

Comments

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  1. Becky

    Great gift guide. My son, a foodie, would love the Chef coat! thanks for sharing. I would love to cook in your kitchen!

    Reply
  2. Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris

    Hi Liren,

    It is a great idea, and I really loved all your suggestions! The chef apron is very classy, and the measuring spoons, that I don”t have bec’ here everything is measured in grams, so when I read recipes from USA is a problem for me!!!

    Reply
  3. FrenchPressMemos

    Fabulous list! Measuring spoons- and cups- are always such a fabulous gift and who doesn’t need another cutting board…Thanks for sharing some wonderful ideas!

    Reply
  4. Tiny Urban Kitchen

    Liren, what an excellent post and great ideas for gifts. I love the little bento boxes and, yes, I agree that one can never have enough cutting boards. My problem is . . . COUNTER SPACE!! Heh heh . . the woes of a tiny kitchen. :)

    Reply
  5. Anna's Table

    The chef’s jacket is such a great idea. I don’t know how many tops I’ve ruined while cooking. Oil stains have to be the worst. Maybe it’s time to give my husband a hint for Christmas.

    Reply
  6. Sara @CaffeIna

    This is a great guide! I just forwarded it to my husband so he has plenty to choose from in case he still doesn’t have any idea of what to get me hehehe Plus, who says this list is only for Xmas?

    Reply
  7. Evan @swEEts

    Love some of your gifts here! Every time I go into Anthropologie I fall in love with the kitchen stuff.. You’d be a lucky person to receive some of these gifts!

    Reply
  8. Chef Dennis

    what a great gift guide! I think foodies are easy to buy for, we just love what we do, so anything food oriented is a good bet. My wife could use a good list, she has no idea when it comes to food, she does try.
    we need to pass this list on to all of our non foodie friends who just enjoy the fruits of our labor!
    cheers
    Dennis

    Reply
  9. Priscilla - She's Cookin'

    Thanks for this fantastic list, Liren – ow I know what to ask for! The chef’s coat is very chic – your husband wins the prize for most thoughtful and endearing gift. I’m forwarding this to mine :) How’s the puppy?

    Reply
  10. Monet

    This is a great list! I’m actually going to forward it to my mom so she knows what to buy me :-) And then of course, I’m going to use it for the other foodies in my life. Thank you so much for sharing! Have a good Sunday afternoon.

    Reply
  11. A Canadian Foodie

    Well, I just responded to this on Marla’s Blog. Did I miss something? Is there an initiative to write about what you want for Christmas started by someone? In any case – my answer is there…. but I wanted to say I just finished cookie baking today with a couple of little angels and that was a wonderful way to spend a day in December!
    :)
    valerie

    Reply
    • Liren

      I swear, this is not a personal Christmas list, that was not my intent. I just thought it would be fun to share. But, I will say, I would never oppose these items, even the ones I already have!

      Reply
  12. skip to malou

    I love your list. I’m printing it for my hub’s and kids’ guide this christmas.. my son said it took them 3 hours to buy a gift for me last year haha poor thing… but honestly i would love to have the chef’s coat or the garlic jar, or the spice jars.. and the all clad pans( i already told them that my pots and pans need to be replaced!) hahah the list is just as handy… thanks for sharing liren!

    Reply
    • Liren

      I’m happy to help your family :) Hee hee!! What sweethearts, searching 3 hours for a present!

      Reply
    • Liren

      I noticed in your knife class video! I just love mine, they have held up for so long, too.

      Reply
  13. Spicy Green Mango

    I heart Anthropologie (honey pot spice jars oh my!); adore Nielson Massey and their amazing Madagascar vanilla (truly the best that I bake with all the time!); and am finding out more that you and I really need to get together soon! A day of swooning, you might call it! Great holiday gift guide that is sure to find it’s way to my hubby’s pocket :) Awesome, Liren!

    Reply
  14. Trish

    Love the gift guide. That’s so sweet that your hubby gave you a chic chef coat last Christmas. I LOVE the garlic jar – might have to take a trip down to Gilroy myself. Have a great weekend :-)

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Trish! I know, I just love my chef coat. Seriously, best gift ever :) And I am positively in love with that garlic jar, too. I also need to make it down for the Garlic Festival this year!

      Reply
  15. CarolineAdobo

    Great list, Liren! I’d like one of each and a dozen of cookies, too.
    Hope you and your family are enjoying the season.

    Reply
    • Liren

      I’d love one of each, too, ha ha! Thank you, Caroline! I hope you and all the family had a good Thanksgiving and are enjoying the start of this Christmas season!

      Reply
  16. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }

    Liren – great post and so appropriate for this time of year! Love that you got a chef’s coat last year. Charles has wanted me to get one for a long time. Perhaps this year? I have been busy canning and will be creating baskets full of goodies as gifts for many of my family members and friends. Next few weeks, I quite a bit more to do. Enjoy your weekend!!!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Lisa, I can just imagine the workshop in your home – I am sure those baskets are just beautiful and full of deliciousness! What lucky friends and family :)

      Reply
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