C U R R E N T (L Y): Holiday Gift Guide


Penguin Clothbound Classics, about $20 each
Penguin Drop Caps, about $18 each
Tartine Book No. 3, $26
Saving the Season, $25
Wild Ones, $20
Gulp, $19
Cooked, $18
The Art of Simple Food II, $22
The A.O.C. Cookbook, $22
One Good Dish, $16
The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, $13
Lost Cat, $14
Antiquarian Cookbooks from Omnivore Books, prices vary
Short Stack Editions, $12 each
The Telling Room, $17


Sheepskin Slippers from Johnstons of Elgin, $79
Cashmere Bed Socks from Johnstons of Elgin, $90
Herringbone Wool Blanket from Faribault Woolen Mills, from $190
HARRY Blanket from Area Linen, from $200
Baby Alpaca Blankets from Pilar + Keiko, $229
Bellocq Tea Signature Blends Collection, $32
Imperial Pu-erh from In Pursuit of Tea, $18
Drinking Chocolate from Theo, $13
Anything from The Anou.  Particularly the gorgeous handwoven rugs, starting at around $100 including shipping from Morocco


Sarpaneva Cast Iron Pot by Iitala, $236
As always, a Cast Iron Pan, $24, or find one at a flea market or garage sale and reseason it lovingly
Teak Measuring Spoons, $20
Box of Maldon Salt, or for the true Maldon fiend, an entire bucket $6/28
Spices from Oaktown Spice Shop, $13 and up
Sandwich Spreading Knife, $6
Dansk Kobenstyle Casserole, $70
Soma Water Filter, beautiful, 100% compostable, and user-friendly, $49
Incomparably delicious Raw Hawaiian Honey, $35
A jar of Calabrian Chile Paste, $10
Set of Basque Wine Glasses, $28
Stollen from Big Sur Bakery, $28
Barrel of 16-Year Aged Balsamic, $400
Warren Pear Gift Box from Frog Hollow Farm, $58
Christmas Cake from June Taylor Jams, $55
Sampler Gift Pack from Double Dutch Sweets, $22
Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, or Ossau Iraty Veille from Murray's Cheese, $25/25/34
And, as always, a Gift Certificate to Good Eggs, available on the site starting 12/9, Special Link Coming Soon!


Saipua Limited Edition Soap Sampler, $125
Frost River Bazaar Tote, $90
Small Braid Ring from Katrina LaPenne, $33 and up
Record Player, $90
Borsalino Hat, $200 and up
Red Wings Heritage Boots, $250 and up
Clark's Wallabees, $90 and up
Santa Maria Novella Pot Pourri Cologne, $125
Home Gardener's Collection of Seeds from Baker Creek, $40
Warby Parker Glasses, $95 and up
Kashmiri Saffron Perfume from In Fiore, $75
Senna Round Ring from Bario-Neal, $285
Boulevard Wallet from Il Bisonte, $355
Cotton Fisherman Sweater from L.L. Bean, $99
Rio Lapis from Marisa Haskell, $88
Peppe from Studio Deseo, $168 (she also has wish bracelets for around $30 that are gorgeous!)


Gorgeous Handmade Knives by Moriah Cowles, $250 and up
Opinel Kitchen Set in Color and Natural, $34/31
Handmade Knives by Michael Hemmer, prices vary
Black Ceramic Steel by MAC, $55
All-Purpose Knife from Hida Tool.  I give this knife as a gift all of the time. $101
Best Peelers Ever, $10 for 3


Handmade Fermentation Crock from Counter Culture Pottery $200
Colombian Bean Pot from Bram, $88
Ombré Bud Vase Set from Heath, $130


Color Study Class at Little Flower School, $500
Flower Class with Studio Choo, $275
Gift Certificate to The Pantry at Delancey, $50 and up
Cooking Class with Viola Buitoni, $65 and up
One Day Studio Retreat at Alabama Chanin, $475
Membership to Headlands Center for the Arts, $50 and up
Membership to 18 Reasons, $40 and up
Introduction to Letterpress Printing at San Francisco Center for the Book, $65
A Subscription to Quarterly (I'd pick Tina Roth Eisenberg, Amanda & Merrill, or Pharell Williams), $50


Lake Michigan, Chicago  by Daniel Seung Lee

20x200 is back!  Some of my favorites are here, here, here and here.  So much amazing art, starting at $24.
Creative Growth Art Sale, $5 and up
Archival Prints by Emily Nathan, Aya Brackett, Jen Siska and more for Tiny Atlas Quarterly, $75 pledge to their Kickstarter Campaign


Citrus Salt
Apple Cider Caramels
Mary's Caramel Corn
Spoon Butter
Gaz: Persian Nougat
Olive Oil and Sea Salt Granola
Chocolate-Caramel Truffles
Homemade Vanilla Extract

homemade gift: mulling spice sachets

, originally uploaded by hrsj713.

after yesterday's post about the teabags, i got a few requests for mulling spice recipes, so here's a quick how-to for that.

cheesecloth and twine or japanese teabags
jars, tins or cellophane bags for presentation
labels or ribbons for decoration

ingredients (get all whole spices, not ground):
ceylon cinnamon sticks
dried orange zest

for sachets that are a bit more exotic, you can use:
star anise (that's the beautiful star-shaped spice in the photo)
tellicherry black peppercorns
candied ginger

for each sachet, use a 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon, 3 cloves, 4 allspice berries, and one strip of dried zest.

if you want to use star anise, be aware that a little goes a looooong way. for cardamom, crack 4 pods open and add them to the spices. for black peppercorns, use 4 per sachet. and one little nugget of candied ginger is plenty.

if you are using cheesecloth, cut 6-inch circles and place the spices in the middle of each round, then tie with twine.

if you are using the teabags, just stuff the bags with the spices.

put the sachets in jars, tins or cellophane bags, decorate with labels or ribbon, and you're good to go.

mulling spices are great for apple cider or red wine. if you are making mulled wine, you might want to add a bit of sugar to the wine when you heat it up. the great thing about the sachets is that you can make just one cup at a time, and don't have to wait for a holiday party to get the warmth of mulled drinks.

frontier for spices and herbs
whole foods also sells bulk spices and cheesecloth
tins from sks
ribbon from tail of the yak, paper source, or any fabric shop
last year, i used these key tags to label the packages
you can also try the t-sac

handmade gift: homemade teabags

last year, i had a ton of fun making all sorts of homemade teabags for the holidays. i drink a LOT of tea--i grew up in a tea-based culture--and even though i lived in italy and had all sorts of delicious coffee drinks there, i'll always be a teagirl.

spices, if using
tins for packaging
ribbon, for decorating tins

simply buy loose leaf teas, herbal teas, spices and herbs and create delicious combinations.

i'd recommend packaging each type of tea separately, so the aromas don't get too confusing.

here are some suggestions to get you started:

--green tea with cardamom
--chai teabags with black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves
--green tea with mint
--chamomile and lemon verbena
--green tea with jasmine
--green tea with ginger

frontier for spices and herbs
far leaves for tea
imperial tea court for tea
there is actually a decent selection of bulk loose-leaf tea at berkeley bowl, and also spices
indian shops like vik's usually have a good selection of loose leaf teas
whole foods also sells bulk teas and spices
and don't forget about the good old country cheese shop!
tins from sks
ribbon from tail of the yak, paper source, or any fabric shop
last year, i used these key tags to label the packages
i found my teabags at ichiban kan (there's now one in el cerrito!), but i've also seen them at daiso. you can also try the t-sac, which they use at tartine, and which i've seen for sale at elephant pharmacy.

p.s. you can also use the teabags to make pouches of mulling spices for mulled cider or wine....

handmade gift: homemade marshmallows

chocolate warmth 1

, originally uploaded by



who doesn't love marshmallows? uh...don't answer that. marshmallows can be a bit tricky to make. you have to have everything ready, and work quickly and neatly if you want them to turn out well. it may take a couple of tries to get it all to come together, but it's worth it. you pretty much have to have a stand mixer to make this recipe--i did make s'mores from scratch once when i was housesitting in canyon (anyone remember that?), but it was painful and took for-ev-er. i don't recommend it to anyone.

recipe from richard olney's


book from the good cook series (my goal is to collect all of these one day).


2 cups (1/2 liter) granulated sugar

1 T (15 ml) corn syrup

1 1/2 (375 ml) cups water

4 T (60 ml) powdered gelatin

2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

confectioner's sugar, sifted



candy thermometer

offset spatula

cellophane bags (for wrapping)

ribbon (for wrapping)

over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar and the corn syrup with about 3/4 cup (175 ml) of the water. stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. bring the syrup to a boil without stirring. increase the heat and boil until the syrup reaches a temperature of 260F (127 C)--the hard ball stage.

in another pan, soften the gelatin in the remaining 3/4 cup of the water for 5-10 minutes. set the pan over simmering water and, whisking constantly, dissolve the gelatin. add flavoring if using.

whish the dissolved gelatin mixture into the syrup. whisking continuously, gradually pour this mixture onto the stiffly beaten egg whites. continue whisking until the marshmallow mixture is a white opaque mass that is thick enough to hold its shape.

lightly oil a pan that is 12 by 8 by 1 1/4 inches (30 by 20 by 3 cm.) and dust the pan with a combination of equal quantities of confectioners' sugar and cornstarch. pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth it flat with a narrow-bladed spatula, and let it set for several hours. with a knife, loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and turn the marshmallow onto it. dust the marshmallow thickly with confectioners' sugar, and leave it for one hour to let it dry and allow the sugar to form a crust.

then cut the marshmallow into squares or rounds.


--for chocolate marshmallows, add 3/4 cup of dutch process cocoa powder (i always use valrhona)

--for minty marshmallows, add a few drops of peppermint extract


juniper tree has cellophane bags

spun sugar

cellophane bags online

paper source has some lovely ribbon

handmade gift: marmalade and jam

apricot jam on the stove

, originally uploaded by



june taylor blah blah blah. i'm not going to sit here and write out all of the reasons to love jt because we've all heard them before. i'm just going to say that i made a bunch of marmalades last winter using her (labor-intensive) method and they were the best i've ever made. it's a lotlotlot of work, but very worth it. and by the time i was done, i realized that she wasn't charging nearly enough for her jam.

this would be a very, very special gift for anyone. you can play around with the citrus choices--buddha's hand, blood orange, and pommelo are all a bit out of the ordinary, and could be wonderful. don't reduce the sugar amount too much, though, or your jam might not set.

and if you really want to be like jt, find someone to letterpress your labels for you.


june taylor's grapefruit-and-meyer-lemon marmalade

(from the nyt)

5 pounds grapefruit, rinsed

5 meyer lemons or small regular lemons, rinsed

1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2 to 3 additional lemons)

2 1/2 pounds sugar.

1. remove the grapefruit skin with a vegetable peeler. cut the peel into 1/8-inch slivers; stop when you have 3/4 cup. discard the rest. slice off the ends of the grapefruit and the remaining grapefruit peel and pith. remove grapefruit segments, reserving membrane. stop when you have 5 cups of segments.

2. cut the ends off the meyer lemons, deep enough so you can see the flesh. leaving the peel on, remove the segments of lemon and reserve the membrane. cut the segments crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. put membranes from the grapefruit and meyer lemons in a jelly bag and tie closed.

3. in a wide and deep pot, combine the grapefruit segments, grapefruit peel, lemon pieces and jelly bag. add lemon juice and 2 1/2 cups water. simmer until the grapefruit peel is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. let cool.

4. preheat the oven to 225 degrees. working over a bowl in your sink, squeeze the liquid from the jelly bag; keep squeezing and wringing it out until you extract 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pectin. add pectin and sugar to the pot. place over high heat and boil, stirring now and then, until marmalade is between 222 and 225 degrees and passes the plate test. (spoon a little onto a plate and put in the fridge for 3 minutes. if it thickens like jam, it is done.)

5. meanwhile, put 6 sterilized 8-ounce canning jars and lids on a baking sheet and place in the oven. when jam is done, remove jars from the oven. ladle jam into the jars, filling them as high as possible. wipe the rims. fasten the lid tightly. let cool. if you don't get a vacuum seal, refrigerate the jam. makes 6 8-ounce jars of marmalade.



--european canning jars

sks bottle

--a great selection of jam jars

june taylor jams

--if you're too lazy to make the jam yourself. you can also try

blue chair fruit


we love jam



--more european canning jars

handmade gift: assortment of salts

along with your main course at the french laundry, you are brought a selection of three fancy salts in a precious silver caddy, complete with tiny spoons (and we all know how i feel about little spoons). because i was there with someone who was considered a vip, we got five or six salts. later, when i met someone whose wife works there, i was told that the really important people get nine. nine salts! there aren't even nine bites of meat on which to sprinkle salt! it's amazing.


salt. my best friend. i love salt. i'd marry salt. in a heartbeat.

the funny thing is that persian food is traditionally very lightly seasoned. and perhaps because she was really health-conscious, my mother was very light-handed with the salt. i was raised with a bland palate.

and then i became a cook.

i remember when i was just starting out at cp, seasoning something and bringing it to a chef to taste. he'd taste it, come back to my pot with me, and oh-so-confidently add handfuls upon handfuls of salt before tasting it again. i'd get upset with myself--how could i have been so far off? this happened time and time again, and with many different chefs and experienced cooks, until one day, i finally got that taste in my own mouth. after eating that food day after day, i began to understand what my goal was, with salt, with acid, with herbs and spices. it's why alice keeps saying you have to taste--tasting is the only way to know, to learn.

anyway, at that time, we used kosher salt in the kitchen. that's part of the reason why they'd add so much of it. kosher salt is only about 1/3 as salty as table salt. when i went to florence, land of the salt lick, i really learned to take things to the edge of saltiness. it's a delicate line to tread, oh, but it makes so much difference. in italy, i got used to using sicilian sea salt, which is quite a bit saltier than kosher salt, for everything. and when i came back, cp had switched to sea salt, too.

at the farm, bob insists on using celtic sea salt, which is unprocessed and chock full of minerals. my other favorite salts are maldon sea salt, fleur de sel, and sel gris.

at le sanctuaire (and this is just a bit too precious for me, but i do think it would make a pretty beautiful gift), you can get black lava salt, hawaiian red salt, japanese deep ocean salt, jurassic salt (one of the ones they bring you at tfl), murray river salt from australia, and pure welsh salt.

so my gift idea is an assortment of salts--you can be as daring or practical as you like. fill a few lovely jars or metal tins with different salts, stick on a beautiful label, and tie on a sweet ribbon, and you're set to go. write a little note with some history about each salt, and let people taste and learn how amazingly different each one can be. the beauty of it all is you don't even need to go to yountville to taste nine salts anymore!


weck--european canning jars

whole foods--has practically every kind i listed

country cheese shop--i heart berkeley. i know they have maldon, sicilian and fleur de sel.

le sanctuaire--salt, salt, salt (expensive!!!)

celtic sea salt

sks bottle--metal tins with clear tops that would be perfect for this project, as well as lots of glass jars that are really cute

lehman's--more european canning jars

handmade gift: pierre herme chocolate-caramel truffles

Valrhona chocolate

, originally uploaded by



these are the best chocolate truffles i've ever had, and the easiest to make. make them with good chocolate, and they'll taste like the best rolos you've ever had.

from chocolate desserts by pierre herme


1 cup (250 g) heavy cream

10 oz. (285 g) bittersweet chocolate (around 70%), finely chopped

6 oz. (170 g) milk chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup (200 g) sugar

2 1/2 T (1 1/4 oz.; 40 g) butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces

pinch of sea salt

dutch-processed cocoa powder (valrhona is the best!)

1. bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan and keep it hot. mix the chocolate together in a heatproof bowl that's large enough to hold all of the ingredients; set aside.

2. working in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt about 3 T of the sugar. when the sugar starts to take on color, stir it with a wooden spoon and add another 3 T of the sugar. stirring constantly, caramelize this new batch of sugar, then add another 3 T. continue until all of the sugar has been added and it turns a rich amber color. lower the heat and, still stirring, add the butter and salt. the caramel will bubble and froth--just stir in the butter, then, still stirring, stand away from the pan and add the hot cream in a slow, steady stream. the caramel will froth even more fuiously--just keep stirring until it is smooth. when the caramel settles down and is smooth, remove the pan from the heat.

3. pour about one-third of the caramel into the center of the chocolate and, working with the wooden spoon, gently stir the creamy caramel into the chocolate in ever-widening concentric circles. when the ganache is smooth, add half of the remaining caramel, blending it into the chocolate in circlesm then finish with the rest of the caramel in the same manner. pour the ganache into a baking pan or bowl. put the pan in the refrigerator and, when the ganache is cool, cover it with plasic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.

4. when you are ready to shape the truffles, spoon a generous amount of cocoa powder into a bowl, and set out a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator and scoop up a scant tablespoonful of ganache for each truffle; put the dollops of ganache on the paper-lined pan. dust the palms of your hands with cocoa powder and, one by one, roll the mounds of ganache between your palms to form rounds. don't worry about making them even--they're supposed to be gnarly and misshapen. as you shape each truffle, drop it into the bowl of cocoa powder, toss it in the cocoa so that it is well coated, and then very gingerly toss it between your palms to shake off the extra cocoa. as each truffle is finished, return it to the parchment-lined pan.

makes about 55 truffles

keeping: if the truffles are no too soft, they can be served as soon as they are coated, or they can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two, covered and away from foods with strong odors.

since these are pretty delicate, you'll have to give them away quickly. but you'll have friends for life. trust me.

where to shop:

country cheese shop on hopkins--so much chocolate to choose from

spun sugar--chocolate, wrappers, boxes

whole foods--chocolate

japanese dollar stores like ichiban kan (there's now one in el cerrito) and daiso also have lots of sushi papers you can use for truffles.

paper source--a great selection of boxes and ribbons

chocolates i love:


el rey

cocoa barry

unsurprisingly (considering my background) , i don't celebrate christmas, or really any winter holiday. but i do love giving gifts, especially ones i make. i'm mostly just tired of accumulating stuff, so i try not to give stuff that won't be used. the thing about handmade gifts is that they are usually consumable, so i can rest assured that i'm not perpetuating the creation of piles of junk in the universe.

as we enter the holiday season, i'm going to post some handmade gift ideas and how-tos for you guys, some crafty stuff, and some food stuff, as well as some sources for packaging and supplies. i hope you'll find it useful...