We are not Oprah! Nor Julie Andrews. But these are a few of OUR favorite things. Any one of them will make you an expert gift giver this holiday season.
I grew up in Alabama with a big ol' muscadine arbor in the back yard. A Southern grape, muscadines have a really thick peel, a gelatinous center, and big seeds. Once you break that skin, the taste is unforgettable. The first sip of Carolina Wild sent me right back to that hillside in Alabama.
When Dennis and Elizabeth Tracz returned to North Carolina to care for Elderly family, they stumbled across an excellent family business -- Muscadine juice. And why not. Muscadines are full of antioxidants, they make a great replacement crop for tobacco, and they remind me of Alabama! As an added bonus, the company philosophy is ingrained with giving back to the community.
So instead of grabbing up a bottle of wine that someone will simply re-gift the next week, be wild and grab up some Carolina Wild.
The Unseen Bean
Sure buy everyone a Starbucks gift card. Feel free to be as unimaginative as possible!
Gerry Leary loves food -- he loves the way it tasted, smells, feels on the palate, but he has never seen the food he eats. Leary was born blind.
One day, Leary found himself in a restaurant with a rock tumble. At least he thought it was a rock tumbler. When he inquired, the owner said it was a coffee roaster and would he like to "see" it. Leary became fascinated with the roaster and set out to get a job roasting coffee. His enthusiasm was not met with the same from employers who simply didn't get it. Since no one would give him a job, Leary bought his own roaster and taught himself. He may not see the beans but hears them, smells them and roasts some of the best coffee around.
You know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make coffee!"
Angelo Garro is Italian by birth and a blacksmith by trade. His blacksmith shop is well known in the San Francisco area, but not always for the forge. In the back, Garro has an industrial stove that rivals many restaurants. The shop has hosted many a dinner filled with food, and chefs, and wine, and salt.
A hunter and gatherer on the side, Garro often seasons his game and vegetables with a salt and spice blend he learned to make at his grandmother's knee. Needless to say, everyone who ventured into the forge kitchen wanted their own bag of salt. Finally, some suggested he sell the stuff...and the rest is history.
We love it rubbed on a chicken for roasting. Try it sprinkled over olive oil with some crusty bread. Toss it on vegetables.
For a beautiful finishing salt, look no farther than the green and rolling hills of West Virginia. While snobs rave about Maldon salt from England, true food lovers rave about the salt from Malden, West Virginia. Under the mountains of Appalachia lies an ancient, briny sea. For seven generations, the Dickinson family has produced salt from that sea -- well for a brief period, the salt production came to a halt, but recently,siblings Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne came back to the family farm and began producing the most beautiful of finishing salts. A tiny sprinkle on brownies elevated the humble dessert to a show stopper.
While we are in West Virginia...you need a drink. Nothing is easier on the digestion than a nice glass of limoncello. Finding a good limoncello outside of Italy wasn't always an easy task. When Linda Losey and Tom Keifer returned from a trip to Italy, they wanted a nice bottle of limoncello to remind them of their trip. When they couldn't find one...you guessed it...they started making their own. They bought a property on Craig's List and set up shop. Who knew one would find lemons in West Virginia.
They didn't stop with just lemons -- they have added raspberry, pumpkin, black walnut, and peach to name a few. Frankly, they have way too much fun for people who are running a business! Buy, you know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!"
Cookbook Of The Day
What do we want for Christmas? Cookbooks, of course. Head over to Cookbook Of The Day for some great ideas to add to your cookbook shopping list. Old and new, there is something for everybody.
Omnivore Books On Food
Need a really special cookbook. Something out of print? Something signed by a favorite chef? Something unusual? Pop off an e-mail the Celia Sack at Omnivore and your search will come to an end.
Last but not least -- in fact -- last but should be first...
This is a season of giving. What do you give the person who has everything? A gift for someone else. Instead of doing that last minute shopping at the drug store -- log onto Heifer International and make a donation of chickens, or bees, or goats, or stoves and tuck that into a stocking.
We have always been big supporters of Heifer International, but you live in a community and there are folks who need help. Drop off a toy, buy a coat, donate to a food bank. the wold will be a better place and you will be a better person.