I’ve always wanted to be one of those humans who could every year give the absolute perfect present.  For birthdays, for Christmas, for no reason at all.  I’ve managed a few in my lifetime but still I struggle when it comes to choosing gifts for the ones I love.  I do always tend to give gifts with a bit of my own signature attached, which I think is sort of obnoxious in general.  And so this time of year, nearing mid-December now, gets me squinting and curling up my nose as to what to bury under the tree for family and friends.

As I’ve recorded in years past I tend always toward the local.  Or homemade, such as marmalade or preserved lemons, or in the case this year, a smart little bag of biscotti or chunky granola.  I do know so much about local foods, and of course I do as a jerk-reaction want to support local producers, and find that I, in the end, give the gift of local food.  Again, my signature…obnoxious, but what I always resort to.  If you’re like me and want to give delicious gifts, I’ve come up with a few ideas for the season.

First, because I live in St. Paul, I would go that nice little shop called Golden Fig on Grand Ave. where their business is to introduce and sell local foods.  It’s easy to fill up a small basket of local jams, honeys, candies, and oils there.  And a swirl around your local food co-op will definetly yield results in the local food gathering.  They have a good spread of local chocolates and syrups and honeys, flours and grains, granolas and coffees.  Find different sized wicker baskets at places like Michaels, Ten Thousand Villages, and of course, IKEA.  And don’t forget your local wine or beer-making shop for gift certificates; just slip those in with your basket of goodies.  Tie ’em up with a nice sort of string and you’re good to go.

Another source for good non-local food is online at  Zingermans is that food institution in Ann Arbor, Michegan that includes a deli, bakery, and dairy, but the bulk of what they sell is through their incredible catalog (which you can find online).  They have some of the most delicious and unusual food gifts that are gathered from around the world.  It’s my dream to receive one of their boxes in the mail.  (Yes, that is a hint to those of you who are forced to lavish me with gifts.)

Also, I think that there are some impressive cookbooks just come to market that would make splendid gifts.  A few of my favorites are The Pleasure of Cooking for One by the legendary Judith Jones, The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco, a famed New York pastry chef, and Jamie’s Food Revolution by, of course, the ever-spirited Jamie Oliver.  You can find a few other new cookbook lists at places like the New York Times or Saveur online.  Remember, more folks are cooking at home these days, for a variety of reasons, and they need all the help they can get.

I’m going to make a few food gifts this year like bags of granola and biscotti (which I’ve never made before), and perhaps some preserves.  But I’m also going to continue to look at places online such as for inspiration on charitable giving.  My husband Nate, and I, decided early this season that our toddler, Riley, has just too many toys right now.  Also, we’re in the early years where she hasn’t been properly exposed yet to the season’s gift-giving charms (meaning madness).  I’ll sign her up again for another Heifer goat share, which I think is a rich and wonderful thing or perhaps a tree or book donation through  In another way these are avenues of food and life giving.

Happy Days to You and Yours,