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Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Foodie Gift Guide

If you’ve wracked your brain thinking about what gift to get for your foodie friend or relative, and are just about ready to get them a lame gift card, STOP RIGHT THERE!
gift card with wrapping
Trust me on this, a gift card is NOT the way to go (in case you don’t know, most gift cards don’t get used and it’s the STORE that benefits, not your friend). But, have no fear! We decided that this year, we would make a list of things any foodie who is like us would love to get for Christmas.

To help you decide, we’ve decided to break it down into three categories:
1. Gifts under $25
2. Gifts under $100
3. Splurge gifts!

Edit: Our good friend Rasa Malaysia also has a Holiday Foodie Gift Guide up on her site.  Click here to see her gift ideas!

Making a List

We thought long and hard about this gift guide and we want you to know that some of the things we have listed here are already mainstays in our kitchen and things we cannot live without when it comes to cooking. Others are things on our “wishlist” which we hope one day to purchase or receive as gifts!

Gifts under $25

1. Microplane grater. One of the most useful tools in my kitchen—grate zest, chocolate, ginger, garlic, cheese with ease and confidence.
2. Silpat silicone baking mat—one would be under $25 unless you got them the large sized one (one of my wishlist items really, just can’t justify it at $50) which is the perfect gift for the baker friend of yours. You can never have enough of those!
3. Silicone spatulas in various sizes. These things are great stocking stuffers and they are also very useful in the kitchen. I have about 5 in different sizes but the ones I find most useful are the medium sized ones from Williams-Sonoma (and I love that they come in so many colors!).
4. Cookbooks! The more the merrier. I just received Asian Dumplings as a gift for my anniversary and trust me, it would make a great Christmas gift as well. You should have seen how giddy with joy Nate and I were when we made our own gyoza skins from scratch. It was so easy with Andrea’s book guiding us all the way (look for our post and review of the cookbook in a future post). Other cookbooks we recommend include: The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, Momofuku, Ad Hoc at Home (this one is just a little over $25—sorry…). It was hard for me to stop there. I am a lover of books and have so many that I would love to own and there’s another long list…maybe I should just have a list for books alone!
5. Ready cut 9-inch parchment paper rounds in different pan sizes—especially the round ones. Trust me on this—I have cut enough parchment rounds for my cakes to wish I wasn’t so pake and would just buy the ready cut ones! I would be thrilled if someone got me some to put me out of my misery.
6. Tea! Because it’s Christmas, splurge and get them some really luxurious teas—Mariage Freres flavored teas (Marco Polo is my fav!), Lupicia flavored teas, Harney and Sons, Republic of Tea
7. Specialty salts from Spice Hound. We love Tammy and we love her spices but we love her salts even more. Where else can you find salts from all over the world as well as seasoned salts that are so unique and delicious? Our favorites right now are Kala Namak (smells like eggs and tastes WONDERFUL!), Murray River seasalt, White Truffle sea salt, and Himalayan Pink Salt).

Gifts under $100

1. Wusthof Santoku knife and sharpener—Other than my chef’s knife, I love this knife for everyday cutting. If you are going to give a friend a knife, don’t forget to ask for a coin back (ancient Chinese belief—cannot give knives as gifts, therefore coin given back denotes friend buying from you, therefore friendship is saved and not severed).
2. Remote probe thermometer—so you don’t have to keep opening that oven door to check if your roast is done, or opening your grill to check if your meat is done. Amazing thing, this!
3. Butcher block cutting board—what is a good knife without a good chopping block to go with it?
4. Ice Cream Maker and David Lebovitz’s “Perfect Scoop” Cookbook—because it’s only winter for a little bit more and nothing is better than making your own ice cream in assorted creative flavors. And because I could use some really good ice cream right now…
5. Magazine subscriptions to Fine Cooking and Saveur—they are my top two favorite magazines and what better than a gift that keeps giving throughout the year!

Splurge gifts

1. Kitchen Aid—cannot live without it! I’m discovering this the hard way as I haven’t bought a transformer for mine here in Malaysia and had to knead bread by hand in this hot sweaty climate. THAT was tough!
3. Any Zingerman’s Gift Package—after having had their apple pie, I would die for any of their other gourmet food items, like artisanal bread, or their cheeses and their coffees.
7. Fancy Camera and lenses and lighting equipment. Had to put this in for Nate who wishes he had more than his ghetto lighting equipment and second hand camera to take all our wonderful pictures. Doesn’t he do such a great job with the little he has?

Gift Someone a Home

Some of you may feel that this whole holiday season just smacks of too much commercialism. We are just as big a fan of giving to charity and making this season something meaningful for others. Our favorite cause is Living Stones Village, an orphanage in China that houses abandoned children with disabilities.
The orphanage has just recently purchased a large piece of land and is in the process of turning that land into a village that will not only house these orphans but build a community around them (with family units, a music and arts center, rehabilitation center, schools, training center, and roadside businesses to provide career opportunities for the handicapped orphans) and they need the funding to finish building this community. Click this link to donate directly to LSV. No amount is too little!
All of the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means we get a small percentage of any purchases made through those links. We will donate 100% of the earnings made from now until Christmas to LSV. So click away and buy, and enjoy your retail therapy!
If you have more ideas to add to our lists, feel free to leave a comment.
Cheers and Aloha, Nate and Annie


Jencrafted said...

Great ideas! I know exactly what I'll get for my sis-in-law and niece now, plus additional items to add to my hubby's gift list (for me!)

Borneoboy said...

Hi Annie & Nate. There is a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity who help build homes for the poor. They are always looking for volunteers. Anyone interested to help out can send me an email and I will put them in touch with the right people.

BTW, I would love to get any of the items on you list this Christmas. ;)

Jenster said...

I loved the gift suggestions! Personally, I really enjoy gift cards, but every once in a while I do get one for a shop that I don't frequent, and it's just as you say, the store will benefit because I'll forget to use it.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Thanks for sharing this gift guide.

Lando said...

The cookbooks are a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

Dani H said...

Love these ideas! I'd never have guessed that Nate doesn't have the fancy photography equipment. I think you are both so brave to travel to another side of the world, even when you have friends or family there. I hope you are enjoying your new life.

Mrs. L said...

I think I'll just send a link for this post to my family members who keep asking me what I want for Christmas!

Chelsea M said...

New York foodies (who, admittedly, spend equal time dining out as in the kitchen, if not more) might want to check out Clean Plates NYC (the website is ) for a great foodie gift. Clean Plates is a great guide to Manhattan restaurants based on criteria of nutrition, sustainability, and of course, deliciousness! It’s got a ton of awesome restaurants, rated by the quality of their ingredients and the variety of their offerings (for veggies and meat eaters alike). They’re also running a holiday special – $13.95 per book. Good stuff. Spoiler alert: any New Yorkers on my list now know what they’re getting this year. ;)