Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Recommendations: Gifts Cooks Love, Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers, & More


If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know that I'm a huge fan of giving books, especially cookbooks, as gifts. They're fun, informative, inexpensive, and—slow, spine-breaking death by loving overuse aside—will last nearly forever.

So what's the only gift better than that? One that lasts a very short time because it's edible.

Speaking of gifts and cookbooks, in case I don't get around to writing more about them anytime soon, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love ($18.15) by New York Times columnist Melissa Clark and Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home ($17.50) by Nigella Lawson are wonderful—especially if you like reading about food as much as cooking and eating it. They both make me laugh out loud each time I pick them up. Nigella's oversized chocolate chip cookies received rave reviews (you know we love big cookies around here), and Melissa's Garlic and Thyme-Roasted Chicken with Crispy Drippings Croutons is awesome.

I realize I'm a little late suggesting Gifts Cooks Love: Recipes for Giving in time for this holiday season, but it seems like things have been even crazier than usual around here lately. And besides, you know I rarely do anything on time—although I did actually manage to get my garlic in the ground on schedule this year for a change. Woohoo!

Anyway, Gifts Cooks Love: Recipes for Giving (hardcover; 192 pages; full color; cover price $25, available for $16.50 at amazon) is the latest book from national kitchenware retailer Sur La Table (Can you believe I've never been in one of their stores? I'm so deprived.) and the fourteenth cookbook for co-author Diane Morgan. Previous Sur La Table titles include Things Cooks Love: Implements, Ingredients, Recipes (hardcover; 352 pages; full color; cover price $35; currently in the bargain section at amazon for $14.00) and Tips Cooks Love: Over 500 Tips, Techniques, and Shortcuts that Will Make You a Better Cook! $10.20 (paperback; 384 pages), a perfect little stocking stuffer or host/hostess gift, especially for a budding cook.

One of my favorite food books of the year is the beautiful, full color Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers ($23.10) by Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher. Anybody who has a CSA subscription or shops at the farmers' market will probably love it. The farmer profiles are so inspiring—just keep a tissue handy. I think I've ended up in happy tears over every single one.

What makes Gifts Cooks Love especially nice is that it offers more than just mouthwatering, year round gifts for cooks of every level. The gorgeous photos are full of crafty packaging and presentation ideas, and each recipe includes suggestions for gift-giving tips, as well as what to include on the gift card. For example, the Apricot-Bourbon Mustard gift card could say:

This Apricot-Bourbon Mustard was made on [give date] and can be enjoyed for up to 3 months, kept in the refrigerator. It makes a delightful sandwich spread and a great dip for hard or soft-baked pretzels, or use it as a condiment for cured meats and smoked or grilled sausages.

And the gift tips are: Tie each jar of mustard with raffia or ribbon and attach a gift card. To turn this into a gift basket, consider including a bag of twisted hard pretzels, or smoked sausages, cured meats, crackers, and a jar of cornichons.

The gift card for the Backyard BBQ Rub (from the No Cook Gifts chapter) even offers a recipe for grilled pork tenderloin. The last chapter of the book is called Make-a Gift Kits and is full of more clever ideas.

Making Graham Crackers
Making Cinnamon Coated Graham Crackers with my favorite rolling pin.

So far I've made the Rustic Rosemary-Parmesan Crackers and the Cinnamon Coated Graham Crackers (which you can turn into a S'Mores Kit). Although they didn't exactly come out picture perfect on the first try, they tasted great—and I didn't really want to share anyway. Next time I'm going to run the cracker dough through my pasta machine to make things easier.

Other recipes I have marked include Meyer Lemon Curd, Smoky Tomato Ketchup, Limoncello from the Drink Gifts chapter (who knew it was so easy to make?), Home Churned Lemon Herb Butter, Mini Apricot and Crystallized Ginger Banana Quick Breads, Eight Hour Butter Braised Onions (made in a slow cooker), and the Seven-Month Vanilla Extract, Bollywood Coconut Curry Popcorn Seasoning, and Moroccan Spice Blend from the No Cook Gifts chapter. There are even instructions for curing and smoking your own bacon and making salmon gravlax.

Sound good? Thanks to the publisher, I'm giving away two copies of Gifts Cooks Love: Recipes for Giving to Farmgirl Fare readers—and they can be shipped anywhere! To enter, simply leave a comment in this post, along with your e-mail address, telling us something about a homemade edible gift—your favorite one to make, the best one you've ever received, the weirdest one you've been given—anything. If you've written about a homemade edible gift on your own blog, you're welcome to include a link in your comment, and if you'd like to share a recipe with us, please do so!

**You must include your e-mail address in your comment in order to win.** (Or let me know if it's listed on your Blogger profile.) It won't be used for anything except to contact you if you're a winner. To avoid robot spammers (or whatever they are), you can leave it like this: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com. You can enter through next Monday, December 20th, and then I'll pick two random winners. One entry per person please. I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours actually appears. I can't wait to read your comments!

Other book reviews on Farmgirl Fare:
America's Best BBQ (I share my all natural barbecue sauce recipe and readers talk about their favorite 'cue)
Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire (readers share Laundromat stories)
Keeping the Feast (and how food helped readers through tough times)
The Laws of Harmony (readers share favorite food novels)
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (and what readers eat when alone)
Local Breads (and my favorite Four Hour Parisian Daily Baguette Recipe)
Cooking with Shelburne Farms (& Lamb Burgers w/ Red Pepper Olive Relish)
Comfort Food (readers share favorite comfort food stories & recipes)
The Cornbread Gospels (readers share cornbread memories & recipes)
The Artist's Palate (a beautiful cookbook for food and art lovers)
Falling Cloudberries (Greek Leg of Lamb & readers talk food/travel)
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible (my favorite gardening book)

© FarmgirlFare.com, the always in need of more bookshelves foodie farm blog where I was sent review copies of the above mentioned books from the publishers. I only accept review copies with the understanding that I'm under no obligation to write about them (unless I'm part of an official book tour, which will be clear in my review post), and I only recommend titles that I really like and think you will, too.

80 comments:

  1. It's not technically something I make, but my mom makes the best caramel corn puffs that she gives out (and gives to us to pass to our friends).

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  2. We received a jar of brownie mix from my brother-in-law's girlfriend many years ago, and agreed they were the best brownies we had ever tasted. Unfortunately they broke up (on bad terms) before we got the recipe. We teased him for a long time, asking if he would contact her just to get that recipe. He never did. :(

    I'd love these books!

    doniamae AT gmail DOT com

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  3. My favorite edible... A friend used to give me homemade toffee every Christmas, the squares perfectly shaped and packaged in an adorable little box. It was better than any store-bought candy.
    givemeanoscar at live dot com

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  4. My favorite gift to give... truffles of the chocolate variety. This year I am packaging up some of them with home brewed beer, wine, and mead, as well as some home canned peaches/jam. I definitely believe in edible gifts!

    hmkitten at gmail dot com

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  5. Food is all my family ever gets from me--mostly jams and jellies, but my brother and my dad have been known to fight over pickled jalapenos. Weirdos. And my mom has an unnatural love for pickled beets. And my sister LOVES my pears.

    They're so easy.

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  6. I love to give homemade fudge - with or without nuts. The packaging is important. I cut heavy mat board 3" wide and 36" long lining up the fudge pieces along the board. The whole thing gets wrapped in clear cellophane with the ends tied in pretty ribbon. My friends talk about their yummy "yard of fudge" they got for the holidays.
    mhargrave46 at gmail dot com

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  7. I received my Mom's homemade Christmas cake filled with dried fruits and nuts and soaked in brandy when I was overseas in France at school. It was the best gift ever for a homesick student.I still remember that now 45 years down the road.
    I love to give a stack of chocolate chip and orange cookies to friends. Nobody suspects the orange and their eyes light up when they taste the secret ingredient.
    Thanks for sharing your recipes and your life on the farm. Your recipes always turn out the best. None have failed me yet. By the way the lemon bread is a gift that I keep on giving all year.
    Best always, Sandra
    sapayette at bell dot net

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  8. Jam is always a favorite to give... I have also given homemade mead, plum mead, and chocolate truffles. This year I am thinking of making some maple chocolate from scratch, if I can resist eating it all myself :)

    elightpool at riseup dot net

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  9. One year I made homemade chocolate eggnog ... OMG, soooooooo good it was hard to give away!!! I like making gifts for friends and family because it means I took the time to consider what they like .... plus anyone can buy gift, right??

    j DOT illy AT live DOT ca

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  10. giving food as a gift is a wonderful idea, its the first option I consider when I have to choose a gift for someone. I would love to win a copy of this book so that my gifts gain some variety, currently I make small bottles of chilly and raisin pickles to give to people.
    Wonderful to know you'll ship anywhere, because its the first time I qualify! Happy Holidays
    maya dot matthew at gmail dot com

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  11. In high school, I didn't know what to give a new boyfriend for Christmas, so I found a HUGE cookie tin and packed it completely full of homemade cookies. I remember there were snickerdoodles, which were misshapen from spreading strangely, and gingersnaps, and I don't remember what else. I think the poor kid was completely overwhelmed -- I have no idea what he did with all those cookies, and he never mentioned it again!

    julie dot dike at gmail dot com

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  12. I always make several different types of biscotti and give an assortment of them as gifts. They're so expensive in the store but so easy to make, so it's a great gift.

    maugreall at gmail dot com

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  13. I am giving homemade apple-pear butter as gifts this year. The best thing is that for the first time, the fruit came off of our trees!

    Blessings this Christmas season~ Liz

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  14. The best cook's gift I ever received was Sweet Hot Mustard from my Sister In Law. I enjoy making and giving through the Holidays Peanut Butter Popcorn, Spiced Peanuts, Chinese Fried Walnuts and Peanut Butter Fudge. I would love to own "Gifts Cooks Love" for more ideas on gifting. Thank you for the opportunity.

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  15. I have given cookies in tins as gifts. Recently, I have had a neighbor give me a few jars of jelly that she made. Every morning, my children talk about how it was our neighbor that made it and not store bought. They think that she is super nice to share with us because the jelly is so yummy.

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  16. We package up some "cracker toffee" - actually club crackers doused in boiling butter and brown sugar with a touch of vanilla, baked, then melted chocolate spread over the top, then cooled. Someone called it Candy Crack - it is so addicting and yummy and easy to package in cellophane. I am getting a bread machine tomorrow and hope to make some whole wheat raisin loaves - no time to make homemade as a single full-time mom working full time from home and homeschooling! LOVE cookbooks - great giveaway! janschop @ aol dot com

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  17. I've really been enjoying your blog... I'd love the books to up my gifting game!

    This year is the first year I really worked hard at my canning so have lots of gift options. The most fun part is that we grew most of the stuff too! I get a little excited about that sort of thing.

    However, no matter what I give, it is not optional for me to make orange walnuts. The disappointment over the missing walnuts would cancel out any appreciation of the new offering.

    They couldn't be more simple, from the McCall's Cookbook (my first bible of cooking).

    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1/2 cup fresh orange juice
    1 TBS frated orange peel
    3 cups walnut halves

    Combine sugar and orange juice in a medium pan. Cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.

    Continue cooking, without stirring, to 238F on a candy thermometer (I don't have one & things have turned out fine every time), or until a little in cold water forms a soft ball.

    Remove from heat. Add orange peel and walnuts.

    With a wooden spoon, stir gently until mixture becomes creamy.

    Turn onto waxed paper, with fork, separate walnuts. Let dry.

    Addictive!

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  18. Oops! Sorry, apparently I can't follow directions!

    My post was the orange walnuts - my email is jackiecleary at mac dot com

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  19. I received a cookie in a jar from the neighbor girls. They were 5 and 8 at the time. Their mom wasn't a cook and left something out of the jar. They were the worst cookies ever! The girls were so proud of what they made I didn't have the heart to tell their mom.
    Rbndbld@yahoo.com

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  20. I have made a nice minty cocoa mix that my SIL had made once for me. Just yummy.
    jdbait@gmail.com

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  21. LindainStLouis12/15/2010 6:04 AM

    I've personally made hot chocolate mix in holiday decorated jars to give as gifts along with a holiday mug. My favorite to receive is a plate of cookies from my friend Glenda--she bakes the best cookies and such a variety! Kinds I would never attempt.
    linda dash mcguire AT att dot net

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  22. My favorite edible gift is Meyer lemons and tangerines from our out of this world trees in our former home of Southern California. We've moved to New England and I miss those babies so much. When my Dad was in hospital two winters ago, we brought him bags of our tangerines, he had given us the tree, and he adored those treats. Thanks for the memory Susan! Oh, I'm carylanneb AT gmail DOT com

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  23. Please enter me in your drawing. The favorite edible gift that I have received would probably have to be the strawberry preserves I got when I graduated high school.... they came with a strawberry muffin recipe. Mm, mm.

    My email is
    aiketgate88 AT aol DOT com

    Thank you!

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  24. I make two Christmas gifts most years: cranberry-chocolate cookies, and truffles. But we've started homebrewing this year and I'm hoping soon we'll be giving beer and mead as well! orders.bills AT gmail DOT com

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  25. In 2008 I put together a gift basket for my parents filled with homemade goods: Vanilla, Apple Butter, Smoky Almonds, Salsa... For a picture of the whole basket you can go to my flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wolfcreeker/3154065406/

    I loved giving that gift and plan to do more of that in the future. Because I got married this summer I didn't have enough time to garden and preserve. Maybe next year!

    Kelly J. R.
    kjramstack at yahoo dot com

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  26. Who knew that the Bourbon-Infused Honey I tried one year would become mandatory for gift-giving each December!! I love recipes that are intended for sharing with others, they always taste better as a gift!

    sueatzoo AT att DOT net

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  27. During the holidays, I give my Sundried Tomato Cheese Roll (http://opulentcottage.typepad.com/opulentcottage/2008/12/sundried-tomato-heaven.html) and it gets rave reviews every time! Last year I was lucky enough to find some adorable Bordallo Christmas tree plates to wrap the cheese rolls in, and it was one of the prettiest gifts I have ever given!

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  28. For Thanksgiving this year I made a Chocolate Cake with Raspberry filling and Chocolate Ganache and then topped it off with whole raspberries. It not only looked gorgeous it tasted fantastic. I just hope I can recreate it for Christmas and my brothers birthday.
    jeanmark at verizon dot net

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  29. Kinda boring, but my favorite thing to make is cookies. I used to make a ton of cookies as holiday gifts. Then, I had a kid.

    The best thing I ever got? My brother in law makes homemade sauerkraut. Weird, I know, but they would freeze it and ship it to me. It would be defrosted by the time it made it cross country, but it's only cabbage, right?

    marciamoore2 AT hotmail DOT com

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  30. I always bake my favorite cookie recipe of the year for my landlords...but I can't decide if they like them or not. They never say anything.

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  31. This year I will not receive my favorite gift. My friend, Meli, passed away in September from cancer. She was only 51 and one of the best friends in my life journey. Last year she helped me clean out my garage when we lost our house and had to move. Garage...think of it! How many friends would help you clean out your garage and then go to the dump laughing all the way. She and her daughter Zoe used to make cookies together and then pass them out to neighbors and friends.
    I will miss her cookies, but I miss most her smiling face and our reading the same books together. She would have liked this book! She was such a giving person!
    Now I feel sad and better at the same time. Have a perfect Christmas!! Lee Bowers kwilternc@nc.rr.com

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  32. My favorite Christmas edible to give is candy. My grandmother and I used to make tins of homemade candy for the family every year--homemade fondants dipped in chocolate. Nowadays, I've moved more towards cookies than candies, but I still make a batch of "moth balls" (vanilla fondant rolled in sugar, with a hazelnut inside) when Christmas comes around. They were the only candies we'd make just for us. :)

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  33. Hi

    Just found your blog looking for kohlrabi recipes. I bought it for the first time in decades, although I remember eating it as a child growing up in Austria. Thank you; it'll be stewed kohlrai at Hillesum Farm tonight.

    Love you blog. I'm much older and, I think, much less successful at having made the transition from big city apartment dweller to farmer. But I wouldn't miss the adventure for the world, especially life with the animals.

    I'm at www.hillesum.org, and have just revived my blog at http://www.hillesum.blogspot.com/. I'll be following your journey, and wish you all the best.

    ilse

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  34. My favorite edible to give is my no sugar added tart apple butter or my extra thin ginger crisps. One year a coworker of my husband gave us homemade carmels and chocolate covered toffee. I got the recipes and every year hope to make them as my husband got about 2 pieces.

    pyro_98 AT Hotmail DOT com

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  35. This book sounds great! I'm always looking for things like this, and most of my efforts in the past have been pretty lame. I recall a particularly awful bean soup mix, that I never had the courage to give out, and ended up having to eat it all in our family... It was dreadful! Thanks for reminding me that there are cool things to make and give out there!

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  36. Oops! Forgot my email in the just-sent post! It's djo@insightbb.com.

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  37. As I type this, I am making up batches and batches of your biscotti recipe I discovered a few years back - no lie! It is always such a hit because it's not super sweet and goes great with either milk or coffee. And for my friends that like super sweet - I just dip them in chocolate, coconut, whatever I have on hand. I have also given rosemary infused olive oil, homemade vanilla extract and birdseed ornaments.
    nishaco@hotmail.com

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  38. I love giving jam! The best thing about it is that my aunt and I spend fabulous quality time together while we do it.

    tightwaderin AT cox DOT net

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  39. My neighbors and BIL went crazy over the home made plum jelly that I made from my favorite plum tree.

    This tree is no longer with us, but while it was here it made the best plums in the world.

    People raved over them. We had it for many years and it gifted us with beautiful fruit that we ate out of hand and made tons of jelly from.

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  40. As a vegetable/honey and fruit farm we always give lots of homemade gifts, mostly jams and honeys. But our Butter Toffee Pretzels (Crack Pretzels) are our most requested treat.

    Thanks for sharing all your great thoughts and insights, always a delight to read.

    jill AT bluegatefarmfresh DOT com

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  41. Jams and Jellies galore! I love making them and I love giving them... they are the best!

    mamatrahan AT msn DOT com

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  42. I love the wonderful homemade dry mixes for hot chocolate. The newest one I discovered has a box of cherry jello included in the ingredients. Yum.
    karendotbryant711atgmaildotcom

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  43. I make a lot of things. For family and close friends I've made pasta sauce and soon the pasta to go with it. For friends they are getting either caramels or marshmallows and a jar of jam I've made also. The book sounds sooo good!

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  44. Mary from Madison12/15/2010 10:28 AM

    This sounds like a great book. I have another book suggestion for you. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (a fellow blogger)

    Here is a recipe I recently found from Lynn Kasper
    Pecan Bars
    Reprinted with permission from Fat Witch Brownies: Brownies, Blondies, and Bars from New York's Legendary Fat Witch Bakery by Patricia Helding with Bryna Levin (Rodale, Inc., 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Patricia Helding.
    Makes 12 to 16 bars
    Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you also feel like a drink. Full of pecans and flavored with a nip of rum, these bars fit the bill. The recipe is unfussy and easy to adapt. Use walnuts, hazelnuts, or any nut combination. You can also omit the rum and they will still be fabulous. Eating one is like devouring the warm, gooey part of a pecan pie — with your fingers. A scoop of vanilla ice cream makes them even more luscious.
    Crust:
    • 1 cup unbleached flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter not yet to room temperature, cut into pieces
    • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
    Filling:
    • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon dark or light rum (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 large egg
    • 1-3/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
    1. Grease a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar with a fork. Add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each until well blended.
    3. Stir in the pecans by hand and spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared baking pan, using your fingers to tap down lightly. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden and the sides are light brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
    4. While the crust is in the oven, make the filling. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, rum (if desired), and salt. Stir in the cooled butter and mix until just blended. Add the egg and mix until well combined.
    5. Pour the filling over the hot crust and sprinkle the pecans on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is brown and small cracks form on the surface.
    6. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cut just before serving.
    buchhma at live dot com

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  45. The worst gift mix that I made was hot chocolate. I added the mini marshmallows and broken star mints to the top of the jar. For some reason the mints or the mix zapped every bit of moisture out of the marshmallows and they were mini rocks. hale724 at msn.com

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  46. I always get requests every Christmas to make my pumpkin bread and gingerbread cookies. I throw in a different item in my baked goods gift giving because I get so tempted looking at all the recipes out there in magazines and online.
    annettegeisel at charter dot net

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  47. Every year I do boxes of cookies for friends, relatives, and the kids teachers. I'm up to over 30 boxes now and should probably get baking in order to get it done in time. Everyone loves cookies but why not branch out a bit with some ideas from this yummy sounding book?

    IzzyRossi at aol dot com

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  48. i made oodles and oodles of fruit jams over the summer and have been saving them up to give as gifts - stawberry, blackberry, peach, hot pepper, blueberry, triple berry, peach-raspberry and probably others i have forgotten. i'm also canning my bbq sauce and reed sauce for gifts too.

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  49. The best food gift I have ever given was a peanut butter chocolate pie I made for my boyfriend's birthday. Him and I had just started dating so I was super apprehensive. All I wanted to do was impress him! Needless to say the pie was a hit, and he requests it now for every occasion! I love make him happy through my baking and cooking, and this cookbook would be such a hit in my kitchen!

    paigewiley16 AT gmail DOT come

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  50. nanuknnatasha at yahoo dot ca

    (Hakunafrittata at blogspot dot com)

    Last year I decided that for a few people on my gift list, they'd receive food. These are people who don't need anything, and are very difficult to buy for.

    This year I'm doing "Brunch"--champagne and orange juice, with various spreads and home-made scones. Last year was "Antipasto"!

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  51. I made a spice rub that I jar up in old mason jars that I collect throughout the year. I add some cute fabric and a little raffia tie and give them as presents. People really seem to love them! Thanks for the chance at winning this wonderful book!

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  52. My favorite gift to give is a southwest chipolte salt. It's yummy, can be used on lots of things, and is easy to make. I also give homemade soaps. Jeninspokane at wildblue dot net.

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  53. My best gift memories are from my grandpa, a big polish man who smoked a sweet smelling pipe. Every year for Christmas he would get each child and their family a HUGE bag of pistachios (50 lb bag). From Christmas until about halfway through January here would be two bowls out on the counter-one with nuts and the other with the shells. I still cant see a bag of pistachios in the store without swearing to smell a faint pipe around.
    My favorite thing to take when I go somewhere for a holiday meal is the Joy of Cooking's Ham & Cheese Quiche. Sounds simple, but I use Asiago & about a 1/4C of Cabot's Chipotle cheese and I never bring home leftovers.
    Strangest gift: every year since I was 6 my Aunt would give me a cross stitch kit that makes an ornament that has a Santa Clause or snowflake. Every Christmas morning I start it with the honest intentions to finish it and send it back, and every year I loose them in the wrapping and craziness that Christmas brings!
    Even if I do not win, can you do a post on making Lemonccello. I am engaged to marry an Italian next summer and would love to surprise him with some!

    kashicks AT gmail DOT com

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  54. I grew up in Minnesota but had lived in Texas for several years and finally had a big vegetable garden. I didn't realized how few squash plants it takes to feed an entire county. I was fortunate to run across a recipe for a squash relish that used zucchini and yellow squash, along with green and red peppers and onions. I probably put up 150 pints of relish before I resorted to putting half the squash in the compost pile (something in me refuses to let me pull up a plant). I also had a bountiful crop of okra and cayenne peppers so, of course, I pickled the okra. When Christmas rolled around, I baked my standard cookie gifts but added jars of relish and okra. The looks on the faces of family in Minnesota were priceless when they opened their gifts, since okra is not big up north. I actually had someone ask if they were actually supposed to eat it. However, they did ask for more th next year!

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  55. OOps...didn't include my email with the squash relish and pickled okra comment. Hope it's okay to do it here.

    horandesigns.geo at yahoo dot com

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  56. Consumable gifts are the best! In previous years I've made soap (with lye, the old fashioned way). Last year I also made almond nut brittle, and it turned out great! This year we plan to make biscotti. info@barbarajcarter.com

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  57. This year, I'm going to be surprising my coworkers with individual bags of Reindeer Poop cookies. I found the recipe on another blog (http://odd-dotty.typepad.com/odd_dotty_dollymaker/2010/11/reindeer-poop.html). They are amazing!

    erinkhenderson at gmail dot com.

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  58. Love homemade food gifts: they're the best! I've given spicy pickled carrots and chocolate-dipped candied ginger. Those have been the biggest hits so far! This book looks amazing! Thanks for the chance to win it. sherrischott@gmail.com

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  59. I love to give slow cooked carmelized onions with homemade bread and some cheese.

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  60. Yummy!
    Well, of course Christmas Cookies!
    jf45 (at) ymail (dot) com

    thanks for the advice on the email thing, that must be how i get all those crazy spam emails!

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  61. We got a batch of cookies as a wedding gift, along with a cook book. The funny thing is that that particular recipe wasn't in the cookbook!
    If I need to give a quick gift, I usually jump to a ginger spiced cookie recipe. Nobody seems to make them so they are always a big hit. Adding 1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger makes the cookies flavour pop!

    ladyodette at gmail dot com

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  62. Farmgirl - I can't believe you haven't been to a Sur la Table when you have been through St. Louis. The shop at Plaza Frontenac is one of my favorite cookware shops.

    The best food gift I ever got was my from my in-laws, which was a tin of the family favorite bourbon balls, which my sister-in-law has since perfected and for a short time had on the dessert menu at a four star restaurant in New York. They are certainly a treat!!!
    lpcourtney at att dot net

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  63. Thanks for the opportunity!

    Every year I make crockpot apple to give as gifts; I have a neighbor who dearly loves it!

    Michelle
    mmcmillen at macnet dot com

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  64. The best gift I received was spicy balsamic mustard made by a co-worker of the friend who gave it to me. I'd be willing to buy it anytime. Special gifts we give, besides cookies and tea cakes, are 3-D star cookies (by my engineer S.O.) and Indian-spiced Glazed Nuts - slightly sweet, slightly spice and with a kick of cayenne.

    mdheuser AT yahoo . com

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  65. I hardly give anything BUT homemade edibles (and drinkables). I think most everyone's favorite is the wine. This book sounds like so much fun!

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  66. I have two favorites to give away now. I HATE making fudge but LEMON fudge (with white chocolate!) is SO worth it.....if I can stop eating it long enough to get it wrapped up and out of the house! And, decades ago now, I found a recipe for Caramel Kix...on the box...that is as easy as recipes go...and there's no popping of corn required! Great grab food for gatherings, too!

    silvernsassy at yahoo dot com

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  67. I absolutely LOVE your book reviews - they inspire me and make me want to read them and give so many of the recipes a try.

    I, too, love to give homemade food gifts - usually homemade cookies! It's amazing how many people rarely get homemade treats of any type, so they always seem especially happy to recieve them.

    After reading some of these Comments, I'm going to expand my 'food gift' ideas a bit.

    Thanks, Susan, for a fun give-away and again for a wonderful blog site! Love it!!!

    brohr 4 at comcast dot net

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  68. I've made cookie mix in a jar gifts in past years. This year I'm making molten chocolate cake mix in a mug for little gifts.
    quiltlady59 at fuse dot net

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  69. Everyone is getting homemade jam this year! My favorite of the batches made this summer is a blueberry-peach.
    kristin.geiger AT gmail dot com

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  70. I like giving wax paper wrapped caramels. This year I might try to dip them in chocolate...YUM!
    alibear167 at yahoo dot com

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  71. The best gift I ever received was an entire blueberry cheesecake from my dear, dear uncle. I was just a teenager at the time, and didn't know that my time with him would end soon after. I'll never forget that gift! And my family makes delicious chocolate toffee that we've been giving for years to many happy stomachs! monicabrannon AT gmail DOT com

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  72. I only started doing this last year, but I went to a truffle-making class with a friend, and homemade truffles are not that hard to make! I will admit they can be a little time-consuming, especially at first when you are trying to get the hang of it. BUT everyone is always amazed that I made them myself!! So, they're really a hit.

    jen AT trimpe DOT org

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  73. This year, I'm planning to make artisan bread to give as gifts. I find that if I freeze it, it loses only a bit of its freshly baked goodness. (I use the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.)

    blessed DOT gingram AT gmail DOT com

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  74. I'm also a California girl who moved east, to central PA. The first Christmas that our family was not in LA, we received phone calls, emails and notes from friends and family who missed the chocolate cookies my mother made (and we kids delivered) for the last 27 years. Even when our family was struggling financially, these cookies were still the best gifts we gave. micaelafleming at hotmail dot com

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  75. I try to make homemade gifts each year for friends and/or co-workers. This year I made vanilla extract and vanilla sugar.
    clneff59@yahoo dot com

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  76. Mmm, I love both giving and receiving edible gifts. This year I am making batches of Nigella's brownies from her Domestic Goddess cook book. They have three sticks of butter and six eggs in them...out of control good!

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  77. the best thing I ever get was...home made chocolat cookies by my sweet little boy!

    thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes,

    with love from the Netherlands,
    x
    Wendela

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  78. I'm sorry, I forgot my email!
    wendela.lam@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  79. This year is the first time I've had a lot of gifts to give [my family, plus extended family visiting, plus boyfriend's family] and not much to spend on said gifts. So just about everyone who isn't my mom, brother or boyfriend is getting a ball mason jar full of my favorite hot chocolate recipe. :)

    My email is skyXwards [at] yahoo [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  80. Hello everyone,
    I usually make apple and orange loaf. It is very easy to make and never let me down. I wrap it and include the recipe on a card. People love it. I also used to give a jar of grilled pepper and zucchini and marinated in olive oil, white wine vinegar, slices of lemon, roasted and lightly bashed caraway seeds, cloves of garlic, salt, pepper. Keep for a day outside the fridge and open the next day, once open keep in the fridge. It lasts for 3 to 4 days.
    My email: cyrene.simplicity AT yahoo DOT Com
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete

January 2013 update: I know word verification is a big pain, but it's the only way I can stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I get every day. I don't want to require commenters to be registered Blogger or Open ID users because I know many of you aren't. Thanks so much for your understanding!

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