More holiday gift ideas

Continuing yesterday’s theme of holiday gift ideas…..I offer a few more:

For anyone with a kitchen: handcrafted wooden spoons from the Spoon Mill in Denham Springs, LA.  Craftsman Christopher Fry makes ladles, spatulas, stirrers, spoons, and more from a variety of woods.  Fry also creates a wide variety of left handed implements, angled and curved to suit the lefty cook.  A flat-bladed stirrer and a 10″ Lodge cast iron skillet make a great gift for a new cook—he/she will have the ideal tools to learn roux-making.

For a new cook: classic, local cookbooks (used or new).  Used means green, remember?  Plus, buying used (try the selection at Blue Cypress Books) stretches your dollar, so you can gift multiple books covering many aspects of the same cuisine, technique, or region.  A good “starter list” of Louisiana cookbooks might include the following–

  • The Prudhomme Family Cookbook, a great compendium of old-fashioned, south Louisiana home cooking.  Stick-to-your-ribs basics like smothered potatoes, sticky chicken, sauce piquante, and macque choux.
  • The New Orleans Cookbook, by Richard & Rima Collin.  Covers the waterfront of local classics.
  • Louisiana Real & Rustic, Emeril Lagasse & Marcel Bienvenu.  Easily the best of Emeril’s many books.
  • Cooking up a Storm:  Lost and Found Recipes from the Times Picayune, by Judy Walker & Marcelle Bienvenu.  A snapshot of early 21st century New Orleans cooking; compiled from recipe requests sent to the Times-Pic after Katrina–people seeking to reconstruct recipes lost in the storm.
  • Other good community cookbook choices:  Jambalaya, the Junior League of New Orleans’ cookbook; Pirates’ Pantry, out of Lake Charles;  River Road Recipes, from Baton Rouge (and its’ many sequels); Talk About Good, from Lafayette; and Down the Bayou and its sequel, Down the Bayou and Back Again, out of Larose.

For someone in a tiny apartment, or in a house with a tiny kitchen: collapsible silicone colanders, funnels, and strainers fold flat for easy storage.  The best collapsible item yet?  A salad spinner.

Of course, you could skip the exchange of material posessions and make a gift to charity instead.  Food-related charity gifts might include a contribution to local food bank Second Harvesters, or support for poverty eradication through animal husbandry with Heifer International.

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