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December 2, 2008

Gifts for food lovers: Books for cooks (Recipe: slow-roasted tomato pesto) {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Part Five of an eight-part series.


There are two schools of thought about giving cookbooks to people who love to cook.

Give the classics, the books that last forever.

Or, give the new, the trendy, the books that are hot hot hot right now, the books everyone is talking about, the books laden with photographs, printed on expensive paper, objets for a coffee table, the beautiful, irresistible cookbooks.

Me? I'm from both schools.

Continue reading "Gifts for food lovers: Books for cooks (Recipe: slow-roasted tomato pesto) {vegetarian, gluten-free}" »

November 25, 2008

Gifts for food lovers: Art and craft (Recipe: four-fold gratin)

Part Four of an eight-part series.


My little log house in Rhode Island is the old-fashioned kind, with lumpy-bumpy walls inside and out.

Some logs stick out more than others, as though trees were felled and simply piled up in a rectangle, holes cut here and there, until someone said, "Okay, that's enough -- let's put a roof on it!"

I know the construction wasn't quite that haphazard, but try hanging artwork on a log wall, and you'll know what I mean. Nails or hooks go into the logs that protrude; then the art must be shimmed out on the bottom to make it more-or-less level, or it looks like it's sliding down the wall. And you'd better like the height, because those protruding logs aren't always quite where you want them to be.

Except in the kitchen.

The kitchen has one long plastered wall. No lumps, no bumps, no logs. Perfect for art.

If the food lover in your life has an art wall, or an art corner, or a tiny space above the countertop for a little painting, here are gift ideas galore for art-loving foodies or food-loving artsies.

Continue reading "Gifts for food lovers: Art and craft (Recipe: four-fold gratin)" »

November 18, 2008

Gifts for food lovers: From travels near and far (Recipe: Suspiro de Limena)

Part Three of an eight-part series.

A strip of edible seeds of the Andes, from a market in Peru.

When I was growing up, my parents loved to take me to the theater.

Not the movie theater.

Broadway shows, and off-Broadway, and incredibly-far-off-Broadway, in unfamiliar neighborhoods and alternative spaces like the room behind the room behind a restaurant, or an empty warehouse with some folding chairs, or an elementary school auditorium or church basement. Going to the theater was an adventure.

In the years before there were half-price ticket booths, there were twofers. Two, for the price of one.

Scoring those twofer tickets required cunning and good luck, and when my parents found a twofer, we looked on it as a gift from the theater gods.

For the food lover in your life, a gift from your travels -- near or far or armchair -- can be a twofer, too.

Continue reading "Gifts for food lovers: From travels near and far (Recipe: Suspiro de Limena) " »

November 11, 2008

Gifts for food lovers: For kids who love to cook (Recipe: green bean sesame sauce toss) {vegan}

Part Two of an eight-part series.  


For years my parents kept a photo of me on their dresser. In the photo, taken when I was just barely old enough to sit upright on my own, I was wearing a cute little frock and Mary Janes, and "reading" a copy of The New Yorker magazine.

I've had my own subscription to The New Yorker since high school, and until just a few years ago, when they stopped publishing this feature regularly, I looked forward to a series of articles every December titled "On and Off the Avenue", which were all about extravagant gift shopping in the swankiest stores in New York City.

Here in The Perfect Pantry, I'm more interested in "On and Off the Kitchen Counter". This week it's gifts for kids who love to cook, like our super-fabulous granddaughter, Sabina, who can read The New Yorker almost all by herself. She is so cool!

Continue reading "Gifts for food lovers: For kids who love to cook (Recipe: green bean sesame sauce toss) {vegan}" »

November 4, 2008

Gifts for food lovers: Think outside the box (Recipe: hot buttered rum)

Part One of an eight-part series.

Mighty World Farmer's Market, from Jeffrey's Toys, Market Street, San Francisco

My father wasn't the most creative gift giver in the world.

For every occasion, he went to the same jewelry store and picked out a brooch or necklace much fancier than anything my mother would wear for everyday. Some she loved, some she didn't, but she believed that gifts should be for the person, not for the household, and, to his credit, my dad never put a big red bow on a washing machine.

My mother wasn't a food person. If she were, she might have loved a sesame seed grinder, a tagine, a stack of cookbooks, or a Viking six-burner stove -- all gifts for the household, but all things a foodie might love. I know. I love mine.

Call me crazy, but I'd much rather get a hand-carved wooden spoon than a piece of jewelry.

My husband Ted knows that about me, and over the past 18 years, since food writing became my work, he's become the most creative searcher-outer of eclectic, fun, practical, interesting, wacky, lovely, and downright cool stuff, whether from halfway around the world, or around the corner.

Inspired by Ted's ideas, and by gifts I've received and purchased for my food friends, every Tuesday from now until your favorite December holidays I'll be sharing gift suggestions for the food lover in your life.

Continue reading "Gifts for food lovers: Think outside the box (Recipe: hot buttered rum)" »

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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