Every year the holidays sneak up on me and I look around surprised that people are playing Christmas music and shopping for presents. I have yet to even put our Christmas tree up! But that hasn’t stopped me from compiling my annual holiday gift guide for you all!
This year my friends at OXO are helping me out as well and giving away THREE sets of their awesome Salt and Pepper Grinders. Stick around or scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more about how you can enter to win your own set of salt and pepper grinders! [This giveaway is closed!]
OXO makes some pretty awesome kitchen items. Their vegetable peeler is my absolute favorite it’s comfortable grip and super sharp blade (I use it in my awesome “how to peel a carrot like a pro” video). So it comes as no surprise that their Lua Salt and Pepper Mill Set also rocks my world. I love how the grinders are made of ceramic, which means they won’t rust or corrode like other mills made of metal. Putting the grinders at the top of the mill also means as they sit on the table they won’t get clogged up with residual rock salt or pepper. But most important of all (for me) they look great on pretty much any dinning room table. I know it’s shallow but I work hard to make my food look fantastic. I want everything else on the table to be just as pretty!
My partner AJ often tells me that the idea of foraging for food scares the heck out of him. Luckily I’ve never had a huge drive or desire to forage myself but Ava Chin’s book Eating Wildly may change my mind. A columnist for the New York times, her warm and engaging memoir is more than just a treaty on how to find wild nettle and dandelion greens in the sprawling urban landscape of New York City. It’s a story of how Ava found herself while finding edible greens and berries in parks and street of New York. Interweaving stories of her absent father her strong-willed mother and her sick grandmother along with foraging for mulberries, morels and wood sorrel, this book isn’t just for those people who love food. It’s for people who love life.
Anyone that has been to my place knows that I have an absolute obsession with salt. I think I currently own 23 different types of salt. So when I met the fine people behind the Jacobsen Salt Company in Portland I was thrilled to sample some of their fine sea salt. Hand harvested off the coast of Oregon, their pure sea salt has a clean taste and texture that helps elevate your final dish to restaurant quality. Their Jacobsen Salt Co. Gift Set with six different finishing salts ranging from their pure flake salt to infused flavored salts like lemon zest and Stumptown Coffee salt will make your final dishes shine and sparkle with flavor.
After spending some of my post-collegiate years working at a coffee shop as a barista I embraced my inner hippie and switched over to teas. DAVIDsTEA has always been a fun tea experience, a little less rigid and serious than some of the other tea companies out there. Their holiday collection line is perfect for those tea drinkers who are looking for some festive cheer. Eggnog is a green rooibos blend that has bits of meringue in it, while Sleigh Ride is an herbal tea blend with cinnamon, apple, hibiscus and other little holiday cheer. But my favorite is Santa’s Secret which combines black tea with peppermint and tiny candy candy sprinkles. Who says tea has to be so serious?
I feel like 2015 is going to be the year of umami. The fifth taste (coming in after sweet, sour, bitter and salty) umami has long been described as the savory flavor you taste in anchovies, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and ketchup. Unlike some of the other tastes like salt and sweet, adding more umami to a dish can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing but luckily Taste #5 has delivered this elusive flavor in a tube or a grinder! Their Taste #5 Umami Collection Box includes five different umami filled ingredients, Umami Bomb, Umami Vegetarian, Umami Bomba, Umami rush and Umami Pepper, enough to punch up your umami in all your dishes!
I live in San Francisco where they charge you 10¢ per paper bag at the grocery store AND I walk everywhere. Consequently I have a billion re-useable bags and they range all over the place in terms of durability and style. But my favorite one by a long shot is my new Will Leather Goods tote bag. Durable, comfortable and utterly stylish, this bag not only makes me feel good about not wasting another paper bag at the store, but it also is easy to carry my grocery home in, as well as makes me look rather stylish. A win-win-win situation if you ask me.
Everyone needs a quality chef knife in their kitchen. I just found my new favorite one. The Takamura R2 knife sold by Chubo, Japanese kitchenware is lightweight without being flimsy, feels comfortable in my hand when I rock it back and forth as I chop garlic and is razor sharp with a nice thin blade. With it’s beautiful pakka wood handle and hand sharpened edge, this knife will look beautiful hanging on your knife magnet as well as in your hand as you work with it for the years to come.
I adore my olive oils and Frescobaldi Laudemio First Pressing Extra Virgin Olive Oil is beautiful. With it’s grassy green luminescent color and it’s buttery texture and green vegetable mild pepper taste, this is the sort of olive oil that you use to finish a dish for someone you care about. Whether it’s drizzled over leafy greens, or added as a final touch to a tomato soup, this olive oil would make any meal a special one.
I was skeptical about the Baking Steel as I already had a baking stone but once I got my hands on one, I fell in love. The steel takes longer to heat up in the oven but it retains it’s heat so much more than the stone and is utterly durable, unlike a lot of stones. I find myself making pizza a lot more now that I just leave the steel in my oven. Even when I’m not making just pizza, I leave the steel in the oven as storage and when I heat the oven, because it retains heat so well, I find I have a better more consistent heat when baking. Totally worth every penny (but be forewarned the steel is HEAVY).
My friends seem to be split down the middle between those who like clear spirits like gin, vodka and silver tequila and those who like their spirits more on the “brown” side. Dark rum, bourbon, whisky and scotch are all their drinks of choice and nothing inspires a loyal following more than scotch. Aberlour A’Bunadh cask strength malt whiskey, with its dark molasses color is heavier and richer than most scotches, with notes of spiced citrus, touches of chocolate, hints of oak and a bit of a raisin character. Aged in sherry casks, A’Bunadh is Gaelic for “the original” and is handcrafted in a traditional manner without chill filtration or any other modern process.
If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know I’m working with Anolon to develop recipe for their site. That said, I’m also a huge fan of their products. In fact Anolon was one of my first “grown up” cookware that I received and I’ve never looked back. Their Anolon Nouvelle Copper 2-Quart covered saucepan is my new favorite piece of theirs. It’s the perfect size for heating up soup, making gravy or sauce or cooking oatmeal/rice. It’s also has a nonstick finish which means cleaning up is a snap but the copper core layer that allows for fast and even heat distribution. Making food with good cookware and knives makes everything so much more fun in the kitchen!
I was a little hesitant about Leonardi’s balsamic pearls as I’m not a huge fan of molecular gastronomy gimmicks in my food. But balsamic pearls are pretty easy to make and only require balsamic vinegar, agar agar (an algae based gelatin) and some cold oil. But you know what’s even easier than making them? Buying them! Perfect as a host gift or a stocking stuffer, these balsamic pearls would be awesome on top of bruschetta, on top of deviled eggs or a Caprese salad. The white balsamic pearls with raspberry would be great sprinkled on salad, on top of a grilled duck breast, sprinkled on a panna cotta or even in an unusual cocktail.
[THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED]
I’m giving away THREE sets of OXO Lua Salt and Pepper Mills for three readers! All you need to do is leave a comment below telling me what present is currently on your wish list for the holidays. Is there an awesome cookbook that you have your eyes on? Are you coveting a new set of cookware? Or are you more of a practical sort of person and would be perfectly content with more underwear and socks? Tell me what you want to find under the Christmas tree and you could win a set of salt and pepper mills! The Fine Print
By leaving a comment below to enter, you are agreeing to the Official Rules.
▪ NO PURCHASE NECESSARY
▪ VOID WHERE PROHIBITED
▪ You must be over the age of 18.
▪ This contest is only open to U.S. Citizens. Sorry non-US people!
▪ Delivery must be to a home or business address, not a P.O. Box.
▪ The contest starts as of today, and will run until Thursday, December 18th, 2014, 9am PST.
▪ The retail value of everything is about $54.99.
▪ The winner will be chosen by a randomly selected comment. All comments will be numbered and I will use Random.org to pick a random number.
▪ The number of eligible comments below determines the odds of winning.
▪ If there’s a problem with contacting the winner, I reserve the right to award everything to someone else randomly chosen. So in other words, make sure you type in your correct email address if you want the membership and respond within a week to me when I contact you or I’ll give everything to someone else.
▪ The prize is being delivered directly from OXO. They cannot deliver the prize to a P.O. Box. If they have not delivered the prize to you within three weeks of me notifying you of winning, please reach out to me again and I will do follow up to make sure everything is OK. Please keep in mind we are all human and things happen. I will do everything within my power to make sure the prize is delivered in a timely manner.
Special thanks to Aberlour, Anolon, Baking Steel, Chubo Knives, David’s Tea, Jacobsen Salt Co., Market Hall Foods, OXO, Simon & Schuster, Taste #5, Will Leather Goods for providing samples for this gift guide. Though all samples provided above were provided to me free of charge, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions above are my own. Extra special thanks to OXO for providing three sets of OXO Lua Salt and Pepper Mills for three readers of this blog! You guys are totally the greatest!
[All links to Amazon on this blog post are affiliate links, which means if you click through to purchase a book, I get a small percentage of the sales, at no cost to you. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the book or item of your choice.]
i’m coveting an espresso machine, but i don’t believe it’s gonna happen for me this year… 🙂
I’d like the chef alarm thermometer so I can wander further away from my stove when making certain items, like caramels!
Cookbooks! I’m always coveting cookbooks. lol! Although, the book I really want is the Vegetarian Flavor Bible which technically isn’t a cookbook.
I want a really good blender. I can never find one that lasts or that really chops ice (even though they say they do).
I’m hoping for the Heritage cookbook!
Traci Ross says
I’m going on a big hiking/camping/biking road trip so everything on my wish list are things I will need for my trip
Michelle S says
I would love some new cookware to replace my worn out ones or a new chef’s knife. My current chef’s knife is okay, but needs to be sharpened so often.
I would really love a new tablet- that’s what I keep with me when I’m in the kitchen baking and cooking!
Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) says
I kind of want a waffle maker even though I have no idea where I’d find the space in my apartment to store it… but other than that, I don’t feel like there’s anything else I need, though I always get excited about new cookbooks.
I would love a Vitamix blender or a 7 qt Kitchen Aid mixer 🙂
ELIZABETH Bermudez says
Perfect gifts! What else would a foodie/cook want for Christmas!
I really really want Flavor God spices for Christmas and a new cheese grater. I used mine so much it broke. I really like the Zyliss brand.
I’m soooo coveting this spice set from Food52 – La Boîte Tower of 3: No. 41 Lula + No. 5 Breeze + No. 11 Cancale
Mary Ann says
A new sewing machine.
My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. I already have the OXO salt and pepper mills. They are simply the best and get used every day!
Ryan F. says
I really, truly want a baking steel.
Jenny Hartin says
Personal wishes for Christmas.
Thank you Irvin, you are very sweet to do this! Love the items – a Cook’s Christmas!
Kelly D says
I would like a new coat.
Justin N says
My Christmas list includes a pizza stone and a gas range instead of the electric one we currently have.
My pepper mill broke so I could use one of these. I’d love to find a cookbook under my tree. Any one from my ever growing wish list would be fine. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Michael Reinhart says
I’m moving to a new house soon…the salt & pepper shakers would be a great addition!!
I want a Le Creuset 3 1/2 quart roaster!
I’m dying for my own Dutch oven!
I could really use a new cast iron skillet, but I’d still be grateful for some new socks.
i want a Breville countertop oven. Thanks, Irvin
Nancy A. says
I would like a Vita Mix or BlendTec, but doubt if I get either!
I would love mini Lodge cast iron pans to make individual breakfasts or desserts for my gang
I have a weak immune system, so I would like some of those expensive super foods, like goji berries, lucuma powder, mushroom powders, manuka honey, fish oils, gynostema tea, or astragalus. I’ve only just started foraging this year, so thank you for the info on Ava Chin’s book.
Ava Chin says
I’m with you, Holly. My go-to mushroom to aid immunity is reishi, which I write about in Eating Wildly. Hope you get to check it out. There’s also a page on my site for pictures of the the plants & mushrooms as visual aid, fyi. Need to put one up on reishi though. http://www.avachin.com/the-plants-and-mushrooms-of-eating-wildly/
Lisa C. says
i would love to get a new set of pots and pans!
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says
My heart started palpitating like crazy when I saw the Analon 2-qt. pan. Any gift would be like a special Santa gift but oh my I could see me with that pan. And the salt and pepper grinders? Wow!! All of the items are so special and we have an affinity for good knives. We spend all of our time in the kitchen — and we love it!! The Santa tea sounds wonderful. I am an avid coffee drinker ( a bit of a coffee snob) but I drink Pu Ehr tea every morning. It’s a black tea which is wonderful. I have to have it sent from a special tea shop in Saint Simons Island, Georgia. Thank you Irvin for your generosity. I’m hoping to hear what your cooking for your Christmas meals.
Chef TonyB says
Your site always continues to please me with your information, witty humor and upbeat view of food and food accessories today in the market place. This year under my tree I will get two big dollar items – well they are for me anyway. I have my new oven delivered tomorrow ( my old one can’t be calibrated and had began to bake unevenly – can’t have that now for a BAKER!) and the other is a new Samsung cell phone which will aid in my own cooking blog. My old blackberry needs a facelift! I hope everyone enjoys what’s under their Christmas tree this year and also enjoy the Eat The Love Blog and the richness we all receive from it.
barbara n says
I would love to find a new ipad mini under my Christmas tree!
Gina Brown says
I’m crazy for cast iron right now! And I’ve been on the lookout for a cast iron dutch oven! Love reading your blog and following your adventures in food!
Cookbooks of any sort. Maybe one on bread making.
I’ve gotten several ideas for gifts from this post, so thanks! My hubby just bought me the 2 recipe books from the Boston bakery, Flour. I love them!
Omei Eaglerider says
Hoping Santa will bring me Johnny Izzuni’s cookbooks.
I have a very old electric stand mixer that was my moms, and while I love it – it just can’t compare to a KitchenAid. So I really would love one.. Maybe I’ll score one at a great after-Christmas sale!
Deborah Kerwood says
It’s time I treated myself to a good knife. Dear Santa, the Takamura R2!
Francine Long says
I need a new middle size (2 qt?) saucepan…..I would love a good one!
edward ang says
Dear Santa – if you could swing it, I’d love a new fancy dancy stove. XO
I’d love to get one of those baking steels. Hoping…..
A Vitamix, or Thermapen, or some new cake pans. I hope Santa’s taking notes 😉
Erin R. says
You will LOVE the Thermapen, Catherine. I don’t know what I ever did before I had one. My bread always comes out of the oven perfectly baked because I know exactly how many minutes to add to the baking time when I check the temperature.
On my wishlist this year is an ipad for reading and movies during all of the long-distance travel to see family 🙂
Erin R. says
Thank you for the baking steel recommendation! I have been interested in getting one but am hesitating because I already have a baking stone. Anyway, I would really like to try out one of those ceramic skillets like on TV where the eggs just slip around.
A cutting board that I saw at Williams & Sonoma. I love it but boy is it pricy !!
I want a cake stand so I can make pretty layer cakes 🙂 and a kitchenaid mixer, but that might wait for my birthday haha.
A new Dutch oven!
I actually want something unrelated to the kitchen, a Garmin GPS watch! I’ve taken up running and think it would really come in handy.
A Lodge camp-style dutch oven. That’s what I want. We live in the woods, and I can quite easily picture myself cooking over an open fire during a power outage. Good times.
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
I am really hoping to get an Excalibur Dehydrator!
Pam Santos says
I would be sooo happy if Santa left me a new pepper grinder. Invariably I buzz through them no matter how well constructed they are! Thanks for this giveaway opportunity Irvin, and happy holidays to you. And p.s. I can’t wait for YOUR cookbook to be available!!
I would love some more cast iron pieces – grill pan, mini skillets, dutch oven…
Mrs. L says
Well now I want those balsamic pearls! In drinks you say? Hmmmm.
I would love a Nespresso machine.
Love OXO products – won a bunch through food52 and I was hooked. The handheld mandoline is my favorite, totally not scary.
Barbara Moss says
Really need some new toys…
Would love a handheld mandoline. Need something not scary.
I would love a an ice cream maker this year!!
Amy S. says
I want a high powered blender.
i want a food processor.
Vicki Ferebee says
A new countertop toaster /convection oven!
I would love an Anolon roaster pan to make those awesome rainbow carrots! That recipe is so good. Have a Happy Holiday!
totally wishing for a sous vide controller for my rice cooker. Would be grand!
Pamela Stevenson says
I’m hoping for a new blender for Christmas this year. Thank you for the giveaway offer!
I’m hoping for a new skillet.
A VitaMix or Blendtec blender.
I have several cookbooks on my Christmas list: Flour + Water, Heritage, and Sugar Rush
I would love a new vacuum cleaner for Christmas.
Laura P says
I’m wishing for a le creuset dutch oven!
Jazmin Lui says
A large food processor is on my wish list to make soups and pie dough!
Jaclyn Reynolds says
I would love new cookies sheets and a mixer!
I really, really, really would love a Kitchen-Aid Mixer. Honestly, I need more salt and pepper shakers like I need a hole in the head so I would probably end up giving them away myself if I won….
Alexandra H says
Awesome giveaway! i really need a new pair of boots for this winter season!
Well now that I have seen your list, Baking Steel is on it 😉
Brian M. says
I want copper Cannele molds…one every Christmas.
One gift I would like to get is a waffle-iron because I have really been wanting to make waffles. Thank you for the giveaway!
Kathleen C says
I would love one of those vegetable spiral noodle maker thingys. Other than that, just a nice, quiet, simple day with no holiday drama would be fantastic!
Pat Fusco says
What a great thing to do, in the holiday spirit, a generous gesture from you!
Nancy O says
I’d like an Amazon gift card, then I can buy books on my list.
My two favorite gifts are good wine and novels. Hopefully I’ll be enjoying the two together soon!
Ava Chin says
What a great list, Irvin! I’m thrilled to be on it, along with so many yummy, useful items. Happy holidays to you and yours!
julianne c. says
i have ‘the baking bible’, ‘hip girls guide to be kitchen’, a macbook and a stand mixer on my christmas list!
I’d love to win anything. Not usually lucky . I have many of the same pans from 38 years ago when we got married
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