Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wanting it all

Oh, sweet holidays.

Hair-pulling, anxiety-inducing, sleep-stealing holidays.

What's the worst gift you've ever been given? You know what, nevermind. Let's not focus on the worst of the gentle white season. Let's focus on the best parts.

Namely, the food.

Food gifts are a great idea for the foodie friends and family in your life. They can be creative and heartwarming. And really who doesn't love a sweet or savory treat they didn't have to make? Mark and I like to throw together baskets of goodies for family and friends ... primarily because baking a few loaves of bread and adding some glitz is an easy way to not spend a ton of money on hostess gifts this time of year. Here are some ways you can throw some deliciousness together:

Herbal Olive Oils- Choose herbs of your choice and allow them to marinate in a lighter extra virgin olive oil for at least a week. You can buy this stuff in large tin cans for under $15 at the right stores. Makes enough to drown an army. Strain oil and put into decorative bottles with a new, clean sprig of the herbs used.

Flavored Vinegars- From herbs and spices, to fruits and citrus, vinegar is a fantastic canvas for your culinary creativity. Sage and citrus vinegar? No problem. Cranberry and warm spices? Nailed it. You can find tons of recipes for flavored vinegar online, so do some exploring or just follow your instincts. Be sure to strain the vinegar after a few weeks, pour into decorative bottles, and garnish with fresh ingredients.

Bread- We like throwing together a few loaves of sourdough, but whole wheat or traditional white are always awesome. If you can bake, give some bread a whirl. Those holiday party hosts don't want to worry about making breakfast the following morning. Give them something tasty to toast when pancakes are too ambitious. Quick breads are a great option if allowing dough to rise just taxes your imagination. Banana, pumpkin, cranberry, the options are vast this time of year and most you can buy by the box. I won't tell anyone you took a short cut. I promise.

Shmears- Jams, jellies, spreads .. most of these keep in the fridge for a while, so they pack longevity. Berry jams and jellies have enough pectin in them to make preserving as easy as a pot of boiling water. Apple sauces and butters can be processed easily, too. Cranberry relish and sauces are acidic enough to last for a week or two without processing at all, though that always helps.

Delightful extras- Cheeses, honeys, cured meats, local delights ... find your local fine food provider and find a few affordable add-ons. Have a lot of herbs from your garden? Bundle them with twine for an added flavor boost to future meals. For all you local readers, we suggest hitting up Butter's Fine Food and Wine for fancy extras to gifts like this.

We like to hit up a local craft store for clearance deals on baskets and pretty fabric- one year we lined the baskets with flour-sack towels. Those always come in handy. You can find affordable glass bottles and jars at just about any kitchen store or department stores that have home-goods sections (like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Home Goods). If you're looking for the super different, try a thrift store like Salvation Army or Goodwill. They have a bit of glass available, just run it through the hottest cycle your dishwasher has. After you have the containers and your idea of things, get to cooking!

If all of this just sounds like a lot of work to you, or if you're worried your efforts won't match your ultimate goals, there is an answer.

This is the man behind the movement.

Food forward friends, rejoice! This incredible gifting service takes all the stress out of gifting and puts fun back in it's place. The process is incredibly simple, too. You can even sign in through Facebook to make shopping for your friends even easier!

So, you pick your gift recipient and how much you would like to spend on their gift. You then answer a series of interesting questions based around the recipient's personality. After calculating all the information, you're given an incredible list of unique and interesting items to create a custom catalog out of. You pick the items your friend gets to choose from. You also choose the cover to their custom catalog and can personalize it with a message on the inside cover.

It doesn't end there, either. Catalogs are shipped to you, or directly to the giftee, wrapped in Japanese rice paper and sealed in handsome and sturdy envelope. The whole presentation is really impressive and the end result is something that really warms a person's heart.

But don't take my word for it, try it for yourself.  How does this apply to food? That's part of the information process and the food gifts through this site will blow your mind.

Airmailed truffles? Yeah, they have that.
Incredible knife sets? Of course.
Collapsing, portable grills. Hand made rare wood cutting boards and serving dishes. Fine china. Exotic teas. Beautiful wines. Imported olive oils.

Need I go on? No, you should just check it out for yourself. It's so worth it and you'll be hooked from the start. I promise. There is so much more than just food related gifts, too. Fine art, artisan jewelry and

This just in, Wantful now allows users to buy their products directly from them. Why not spoil yourself while you're shopping for that in-law that always seems to have everything they need?

In the end, the holidays always remind us of how good we can have it. Surrounded by family and friends, and most of the time a bountiful table, it is easy to be reminded of how beautiful our world is.

May your table and the love in your life always be full and delicious. xo

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