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gifts

Gifts for the Coffee Lover, Day 2

Gingersnaps

I have grown up into a foodie. For me, window shopping means strolling through the Italian market or popping my head into all of the Chinatown emporiums of exotic ingredients. My version of People magazine is really Grub Street or HuffPost Food. And my evening excitement is something like a success in the kitchen or noticing the arrival of sweet persimmons in the grocery store. I bask in reading and learning about anything food-related and will probably curiously continue to do so for the rest of my life. Hence my most recent pre-ordered book, the Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, which was released this past October.

As I said in my previous post, my latest fascination is coffee. I live in a city where the artisan coffee culture is slowly starting to grow, and watching the craft has made me want to learn more. Whether this is true for you too, or you know someone that fits the foodie description above, I recommend gifting this book.

As a food blogger and photographer, the first thing I noticed as I gave a quick flip through the pages were all of the soft-lit, beautiful photos. I am a sucker for visuals, especially when food is involved. These in particular really nailed down a consistent style that for me, had that same warm, dreamy feel of a good coffee shop. The second place I immediately scanned was the back section called “Eat”, full of photographed recipes designed to pair well with a cup of java. Nearly every time I picked up the book to read, I had to force myself not to get distracted by its back pages. I love crafting recipes, reading recipes, and drooling over possible outcomes of recipes. Clearly this section was made with me in mind.

gingersnaps (4 of 4)

The front three portions of the book are comprised with all the ins and outs of the various growing, roasting and brewing methods. The read is a real learning experience from farm to cup, and left me realizing just how technical and scientific every single stage of the process can get. If you’re at all curious about about French Press vs. Pour Over, about the culture in Japan, about how certain beans pick up their fruity flavor, the differences between a Brazilian cup vs. a Hawaiian, or simply how to produce one of the best batches of gingerbread cookies you’ll ever taste, then you’ll likely find this book to be a well-warranted purchase.

If you don’t care about all that technical coffee know-how, and just want the phenomenal gingerbread recipe I just mentioned, read on my friend. Crafted by Caitlin Freeman, Blue Bottle’s head pastry chef, these were some of the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had. Crispy on the edges and perfectly chewy in the center, these will definitely shine — even when placed next to a top notch cappuccino. To get all of Blue Bottle’s recipes, and to learn how to properly roast those green coffee beans from my last post, you’ll have to buy the book. Or put it on your Christmas list.

Click here for recipe…

Easy Homemade Edible Gifts

Homemade gifts are the one’s worth the most, especially for those you hold closest in your life. At least, that’s how it’s always been in my family. The first year my little hands could grasp a Crayola crayon, my mom put me straight to work, creating and decorating homemade cards for my dad, teachers and various family members. As I grew older, my construction-papered cards only became more elaborate, equipped with pop-ups and poems, many of which my mom still has tucked away somewhere in the basement.

In terms of gift-giving, each time a holiday or birthday celebration rolls around, it’s the homemade cards my parents look forward to the most. This explains why every holiday season I still continue to sift through all the markers at my parent’s house till I find the lone few that haven’t dried up. Once I successfully find at least two other colors than brown, I quickly get to work on crafting last minute cards for the two people I love the most. They may end up getting cards made from brown-colored paper, but if they’re lucky, I’ll have found a scented marker to save the day. Each carefully chosen word will emanate of pine needles or marshmallows, a surprise that only adds to the poetry.

While I can’t give every loved one in my life a pine-needle smelling card, I do love to give away edible gifts. As long as you abide by others’ allergies, this type of gift has a guaranteed usability.  That shirt you thought was cute but never see your friend wearing? Salvation Army. Those cookies you made her? In her tummy.We all love a good treat.

Below are few alternative homemade gift ideas, including the figs I posted yesterday, that make great accompaniments or gifts all on their own.

Chocolate Covered Figs

Chocolate Covered Candy Canes – Simply dip candy canes in whatever kind of chocolate your recipient likes best!

  • Homemade Granola – Wrap in single-serve cereal portions, or fill a glass jar and wrap it with a ribbon.
  • Spiced Nuts with Cranberries – A guaranteed winner for all your nutty lovin’ friends
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread – If you’ll be able to give your gift away within a day or two, this is a must make. It just might be my all-time favorite bread, and certainly my favorite banana bread.
  • Holiday Almond Balls – Everyone gives away cookies. But these aren’t technically a cookie, nor are they just another holiday treat. Buttery and oh so addicting, these festive, sugar-powdered holiday balls are a real treat and freeze well too if made in advance.
  • Chickpea Olive Tapenade – This one should be given away relatively soon after being made as well, but a healthy treat for after the holiday gatherings die down is always much appreciated. If nothing else, friends and family can serve your gift at their next celebration.