Holiday Gift Ideas: toasted muesli, vanilla bean paste, The Baking Steel, barney butter, boxwood aprons, lifefactory bottles, Julia Child notecards //

1. Something homemade: Toasted Muesli

Since discovering toasted muesli this past summer, I can’t get enough of it — seriously, we make double batches of it twice a week. Its virtues are countless — healthy, whole grain, full of fiber, gluten free, easy to make, delicious, delicious, delicious — and I can’t introduce enough people to it.

If you are interested in printing these labels at home, these are the two sets of Avery stickers I ordered:

Circular: Avery, 2.5″ diameter, White
Rectangular: Avery, 3″x3.75″, Ivory

Here are the label files to download:

off white
blue & off white

Two other foods I love giving as gifts this time of year are rosemary shortbread and orange and ricotta pound cake. This pinboard has more ideas, too.

filling the jars
big jar muesli
Holiday Gift Ideas: toasted muesli, vanilla bean paste, The Baking Steel, barney butter, boxwood aprons, lifefactory bottles, Julia Child notecards //

2. The Baking Steel
Baking Steel

Many of you know that I love my Baking Steel and contribute every month over on the Baking Steel blog, and so I will keep this brief. In sum, I believe that to start making really good pizza at home, you need three things:

1. The Baking Steel, discussed in more depth here.

2. The Jim Lahey pizza dough recipe (or his book: My Pizza). Once you make the Lahey dough, which is a bit wet and sticky, a few times, working with it becomes second nature. No pizza dough comes together faster — it takes five minutes to mix up — and while it does require a long, slow rise, the timing is quite forgiving. I have baked the pizza anywhere from 10 hours to 18 hours after mixing.

3. Tipo 00 flour.

Made on the Steel: Margherita Pizza, Za’atar Flatbread, Arugula & Prosciutto, Apple Galette, Summer Squash & Ricotta, Grapes & Rosemary:
baking steel pizzas

I love my Baking Steel storage sleeve, too:

And this cherry chunk cutting board:
jk adams cherry chunk cutting board

And this flour:
tipo 00 flour

3. Barney Butter

Barney Butter

Before my children started attending school a few days a week, they obtained 95% (or something like that) of their calories from peanut butter. Peanut butter, of course, is a no-no at school, and unfortunately other nut butters just don’t cut it for them.

Last week while visiting my sister, who has a son with a peanut allergy, I learned about Barney Butter, an almond butter that magically looks and tastes like peanut butter and, most importantly, fools the little beings I am packing lunches for. Moreover, it is made in a peanut-free facility, which means the children are allowed to bring it to school.

Now, what sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients are packed into Barney Butter to make it spread and taste so deliciously? Mostly good things: dry roasted almonds, evaporated cane juice (sugar, I know, but that I can handle), palm fruit oil (not to be confused with palm kernel oil), sea salt. I found Barney Butter at my local grocery store, but you can order it online as well.

toast with Barney Butter

4. Pie Box or Cake Box or anything from Food52’s Provisions

I love my pie box. With or without a pie in it, I just like staring at it, and I think it makes such a fun gift.

You can buy the PieBox and CakeBox in various places, but you might have fun poking around Provisions, the kitchen and home shop created by the beautiful food website, Food52. Santa, I would like one of everything but especially one of these.


5. Boxwood Linen Bib Apron
Canal House Cooks Everyday, Aprons

If you own Canal House Cooks Every Day, you may have unknowingly read about Boxwood Linen aprons on page 180 and coveted one ever since. For the cook who has everything, one of these beauties might be a nice addition to his/her kitchen.

6. Vanilla Bean Paste

The same friend who introduced me to the Negroni this past summer also introduced me to this vanilla bean paste, something she had read about in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. What can I say, she has impeccable taste. Vanilla bean paste behaves like a vanilla bean, scattering seeds throughout whatever batter it is mixed into, and imparts a wonderful flavor, too.

6. Lifefactory Bottle

I still absolutely love my Lifefactory glass bottle. I have been sipping tea in it all fall.

7. For the Do-it-yourselfer: A Cheese-Making Kit
cheese kit

I have had this cheese-making kit in my fridge for about a month now, and I cannot wait to get started on making mozzarella, burrata — yes, burrata! — monterey jack, feta, chèvre, cultured butter, and so much more. I will be sure to report back when I do. Perhaps you might want to order one, too? And we could exchange notes?

8. Julia Child Notecards/Holiday Cards

As always, the Julia Child Cards (now available for sale individually) and the Julia Child Holiday Cards (this one and this one) are for sale here.

(Update: Cards are not available at this time … apologies!!)

Julia Child Cards

9. Pearl Sugar, Parchment Paper and a Few Other Things:

pearl sugar

Just a few things I love: IndriVanilla Beans, Temecula Olive Oil, Lake Champlain Chocolates cocoa and chocolate, Alfetra Pasta, Fair Trade treats, peelers, parchment paper sold in sheets, pearl sugar, Catamount Flameware measuring cup.

Parchment Paper:
parchment paper

10. Your Favorite Tea Towels Repurposed:

tea towels

You know those 79 cent Ikea tea towels everyone loves so much? With a few simple stitches, they can be transformed into countless things: napkins, coasters, placemats, bread bags, wine sleeves, to name a few.

wine sleeve

Sometimes Anthropologie has fantastic sales on their linens:
blueberry bag

bag with bread

11. Vintage Pyrex Bowls and SAF & Red Star Yeast


So, this fall I picked up a Pyrex #441 bowl at a nearby flea market. It soon became my favorite bowl to bake the peasant bread in — the perfectly round shape of the bowl creates a beautiful round loaf. The more I researched the bowl, I discovered it belonged to a set of four nesting bowls (also called Cinderella bowls, specifically the Pyrex #441, #442, #443, #444), which I found for sale/auction on Ebay. I absolutely love the set in general, but I love most of all that I can bake the whole batch of peasant bread in the second largest bowl (#443) and half of the batch in the smallest bowl (#441). The set runs anywhere from $35 to $50 or higher depending on the pattern of the Pyrex.

I have two extra #441 bowls that I would like to give to two of you along with bulk packages of my favorite yeast: Red Star Active Dry and SAF Instant. I have used both of these yeasts for ages, but yesterday I contacted Red Star Yeast to get a little more information on when it’s best to use one or the other. In our brief email exchange, I learned that instant and active dry yeast can be use interchangeably, but that instant yeast is not recommended for refrigerated doughs that would be kept longer than 48 hours. Red Star also recommends using active dry yeast when baking gluten-free doughs, however, many people have had success using both active dry and instant yeast. More information can be found on their website.

Also, you can buy both SAF instant yeast and Red Star active dry yeast in bulk from Amazon. After you open the pouches, transfer yeast to airtight container and store in the fridge or freezer, where they will last forever.

So, if you are interested in this little giveaway, leave a comment. Tell me your favorite holiday movie. We watched Love Actually the second Thanksgiving was over.

Update: The Giveaway is now closed. Alex and Prashanti are the winners.

blue pyrex

A few more ideas can be found on last year’s gift guide. And this pinboard, dedicated to homemade food-related gifts, might be helpful, too. Happy cooking and shopping, Everyone!