Christmas is one of the best times to support a loved one's hobby. When coming up with the perfect present for the cook, baker or foodie on your shopping list, think of an item that reflects their personality while supporting their passion. Plus, think of all the yummy goodness you get in return - unless the person falls into the "how to boil water" category.
This gift guide will help foster the love of cooking, find new recipes and collect family favorites.
- For the digital do-it-yourselfer - a gift card to Blurb ($20 to $500, blurb.com/cookbooks): Blurb is an online book publishing company that specializes in photobooks, cookbooks and more. For the person who likes digital scrapbooking or is interested in self-publishing, Blurb offers quality books and free, easy-to-use software for designing one's own cookbook. The software includes a template for recipes. Books are also shareable via Facebook and Twitter with digital book samples online.
- For the diary-keeping foodie - a Moleskine Passion Journal ($19.95, available at Barnes & Noble and moleskine.com): Moleskine, a highly respected stationery and notebook company, released its Passion series about two years ago. The series is dedicated to hobbyists with more than a dozen varieties to catalog one's favorite pastime, including six food-related categories. You may choose from beer, coffee, chocolate, recipes and more. Each journal contains 240 pages with tabbed sections, stickers and extra blank pages for creativity. The Moleskine website has downloadable templates for additional pages. The journal is also a nice place to store copies of your favorite food columnist's recipes.
- For the eye candy enthusiast - "What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits and Pieces" by Katie Quinn Davies ($40 list price, available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon): This is great for the budding chef and photography lover. Davies, an award-winning food photographer, published her first cookbook this fall and the images for the book are amazing. Your loved one may spend more time gazing at the photos than in the kitchen, but the recipes are easy to follow.
- For the "Julie & Julia" fan - "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook" by Deb Perelman ($35 list price, available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon): Many were introduced to the world of food blogging with the release of the 2005 book and 2009 film "Julie & Julia." One of the superstar bloggers out now is Perelman, the creator of "Smitten Kitchen." Her debut cookbook is similar to her website, offering anecdotes into her life as an at-home chef in a small kitchen.
- For anyone with a sweet tooth - homemade nut bark (About $4 for four servings): I could not end this column without a short recipe. If you are in a pinch and happen to have a bag of chocolate chips and some nuts in your cupboard, you should be far enough along to give this gift from the heart. Here is my recipe for a decadent version of candy bark:
White Chocolate- Pistachio Bark
Makes about 4 servings
1 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ to ½ cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
Line a 8-inch-by-8-inch square pan or a 8-inch round pan with wax or parchment paper, lightly coated with a nonstick cooking spray.
Over a double boiler on medium heat, carefully melt the chopped white chocolate. Remove from the heat and stir in the pistachios and almond extract.
Spread the nut-chocolate mixture into the prepared pan and freeze it for at least 30 minutes or until the mixture is set. Remove it from the freezer, and take the bark out of the pan. Remove the paper and break the bark into pieces. Store the bark in an airtight container until it is time to serve.
TAMARA DUNN is an editor at The Citizens' Voice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.