December 10th, 2013
Finding the perfect gift can be tough during the holidays. Luckily, we discovered a book from the 70’s in our founder’s library that solved most of our thoughtful gift giving woes.
From your standard fruitcakes to planning picnic dates, Irena Chalmers in her book Gifts from the Kitchen, gives recipe, gift and wrapping ideas that will fit anyone on your list. Some of her suggestions take months of preparation but others can be ready much sooner.
For the Garden Buff. Chalmers suggests a jar of herbs and spices or potted rosemary (the herb of remembrance) coupled with a book on cooking with herbs or seed catalogs. We filled a mason jar with a few dried herbs from our own gardens and handwritten recipes, like this creamy lavender celery bisque.
For the World Traveler. For someone traveling to Italy, she suggests giving “a jar of homemade pasta sauce with a pasta machine, an Italian cookbook, some Italian cheeses, sausages, cookies, chocolates or wines.” We love this idea. You could also make your own fresh pasta as a gift to couple with the sauce. Or, it really doesn’t even have to be homemade if you’re looking for an easier, yet thoughtful gift.
For the Weekend Traveler. “Make arrangements in advance and give a picnic hamper filled with good things from your kitchen. Enclose a road map and even a receipt for a prepaid motel room, assuming this gift is not a gift for your unmarried son or daughter.” This one is an easy one to bring into the 21st century. Snag a Groupon getaway offer for your loved one and include some recipes for the road trip, a bag of snacks to eat on the way, or a list of good places to eat in the area (use apps like Ness or Yelp to help you find some hidden gems).
For the Outdoorsy Folk. She suggests a set of nested utensils (for limited space) or some outdoor cooking equipment. Love this idea! There are also some great outdoor cooking books and recipes you could send along inside a cast iron pan.
For College Students. Stock their freezers with a homemade easily reheat-able meal or a variety of meats. Earlier this year, we also put together a college care package that would make for a great gift!
For Old Friends. Give a food-themed 2014 wall calendar and promise to send along a food once per month for the next year. She warns, “This gift only works with old friends. New friends and lovers may disappear during the year.”
For Genealogy Enthusiasts. She suggests, “Give homemade bread with a bread knife or an assortment of unusual and rare honeys from other countries, including the ancestral homes of yourself and the recipient.” We think this unusual gift would pair well for your family members into genealogy, and you know they’d love to tell you a little bit more about the family history!
For the Newbie Households. For those venturing out on their own, maybe a newlywed or maybe a recent high school or college grad, kitchen utensils make a perfect gift. She suggests knives, sharpening utensils, a butcher block or a book on carving. And, if you can work it out, she also suggests adding “the promise of a roast to be delivered by an arrangement with the local butcher.”