Holiday Gift Guide: Joy Summers
What sounds like a cutesy come-on is actually a whole new flavor experience. Surely, you know that what honey tastes like. Gold stuff, comes from a bear-shaped bottle, works great in tea, right? Wrong. And yes, I’ll stop calling you Shirley. Bare Honey will blow your sweet tooth’s mind. I’ve been setting up side-by-side taste tests for friends—the Bare challenge; this nectar of the buzzy gods is like nothing you have ever tasted before. Gentle sweetness, green grass, honeysuckle, soft floral notes: in a word, Bare Honey is amazing. A perfect present for your honey.
Duck Fat from Heartland
I was once gifted a pint of duck fat from Heartland Farm Direct Market and was forced to paste on my best “present face.” Oh… gee, isn’t that just… ducky? Ah ha ha. Mine eyes have been opened, and now I can’t imagine keeping a little bit on hand. There’s nothing a batch of potatoes loves more than to be cooked in duck fat. Why stop there? Use it to make roux, replace a little butter in cookie recipes with it—heck, chuck some into boxed mac and cheese. Duck fat makes everything better.
Fashioned after the stroopwafle, these barely sweet little disks sandwich sticky, sweet toffee and await the warm beverage of your choice. Simply place one atop a steaming cup of coffee and wait for the toffee to slowly loosen up, the waffle absorbing that toasty fragrance, releasing a tiny waft of cinnamon while also moistening. Wait until you can’t take the anticipation one moment longer and bite into the most decadently delicious coffee pairing to come along since the donut. There are only a handful of places that sell great stroopwafles, and we are lucky enough to have this artisan making these in small batches, with only the best quality ingredients, in St. Paul.
The craft cocktail movement has me exploring new bottles at my favorite liquor stores, but no product has changed my drinking habits more than the addition of Bittercube Bitters. Created by two leaders of the craft cocktail movement, Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz, these are hands down the best bitters ever to dribble into a cocktail. The flavors are so much more than simply bitter, the combination of citrus and exotic spices all combined by hand, enliven every drink. Buy a friend a set of their basic flavors, and witness the birth of another mixologist.
Cutting boards can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and thickness, but no matter the material, they usually end up marred, dried out, cracked, and often stinky. Not anymore: there’s a new board from a surprising source—skateboard ramps! Eco and knife friendly, these boards are sweeping cooks’ counters around the country, and they’re made nearby in Duluth, MN. Check them out at Lunds/Byerly’s and Cooks on Crocus Hill.
The greatest gift for friends and food lovers is always the opportunity to spend more time together. I adore Duluth, MN, and now there’s another reason to plan a road trip. This stunning new store just opened and is filled to the gills with gifts for you and those on your “nice” list. Why not plan a road trip with friends for shopping and scene gazing? Fitger’s has a hotel adjacent. The DKC samples all of their products, and many are ready to be cracked open and enjoyed. Get a hotel room, maybe a bottle of wine from the on-site shop, and fill up on goodies for a luxury room picnic. Sit back and watch that mesmerizing body of water lash against the shores, as hypnotic as any fire place.
Nonstick is great in theory, but once you know about all the chemicals that go into making that slick coating, you can’t unknow that this stuff is coming into contact with your food and you. These ceramic coated sauté pans work fantastically, clean beautifully, and are incredibly light weight. I use this for everything. They get a great sear and still the food slides right out—plus, they’re beautiful. This is the perfect pan for any cook, an essential.
There are truffles. There are sweets. There are even bites of deep, dark chocolate. But then, there is St. Croix Chocolate. These confections are stunning works of art, pleasing the mind, tongue, and soul. Robyn Dochterman and Deidre Pope believe that every bite of a St. Croix chocolate should be bliss, and I’d like to congratulate them: mission accomplished. The artisan chocolate is combined with a stunning array of creative and traditional flavors, plus they are each a dark jewel to behold. Beautiful and each one is utterly, mind-blowingly delicious. Trust us, we’ve tried every one.
After years of struggling against my handful-of-this, pinch-of-that cooking methodology, I’m thrilled to announce that I have summitted the Kilimanjaro of baking! I can bake a delicious loaf of bread! It’s true, amazing, and I am completely late to this party. When the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day original book came out, it shot to the summit of all the best-seller lists, and I missed it. I’ve found these books (there are 3 in the series) from Zoe Francios and Dr. Jeff Hertzberg to be inspiring and easy to master.