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.]