Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide 2012 Part Three

In part three of our 2012 holiday gift guide, we offer pre-made goodies for your holiday gifting.

Starbucks Christmas Blend

This is our favorite coffee, hands-down, and we always hoard several pounds of in the freezer to drink through much of the year. It's roasted to the perfect amount of darkness for us, and has a nice balance of sweet and spicy (it's not a flavored coffee, btw). If you like darker or lighter coffees, there are also light roast and espresso roast versions available, and decaf, too. Purchase at your local Starbucks, grocery store, or online at the link above.

Taste No. 5 Umami Paste

Everyone knows by now that besides sweet, salty, bitter, and sour, there's a fifth "taste" called "umami." It's the indescribable savoriness found in foods like mushrooms, tomatoes, and olives. Indeed, those are some of the ingredients of this paste (along with anchovies, Parmesan, and seasonings) which can be used to add some "oompfh" to pasta sauces, stews, risottos, or gravy. It can also be eaten straight out of the tube as a condiment. (It tastes like black-olives.)

Mallow Crunchies

Mallow Crunchies are delicious treats made with crisp rice cereal. You might say, "hey, I can make those at home!" Sure you can, but how many of you are going to bother to make the marshmallows, first? And homemade marshmallows make a huge difference in the flavor and consistency of these goodies. Mallow Crunchies can be purchased at the Mallow Bar in Rosedale, various local shops and farmers' markets, and via their online store; you can buy the marshmallows (Mallow Softies) at the shop as well.

See's Chocolates

Every Christmas for a number of years, I purchased a custom mix of See's chocolates for my brother, who has nut allergies. One year, I bucked tradition and ordered a box from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, which processes no nuts at all in their plant, figuring it would be safer for him. The look of disappointment on his face that year has stayed with me, and so it's been back to the See's. Everyone else on my gift list usually gets a box, too, which we usually purchase at the handy kiosk set up in Towson Town Center (and other area malls). Why See's? Because they are outrageously delicious. Even those folks who stick their fingers into the bottom of a candy to check if its a yucky cream will be pleasantly surprised at how tasty even the non-caramel, non-nut flavors are (my favorite is the raspberry cream).

Glaceed Apricots

One of my favorite things to get and receive come holiday time is glaceed apricots. Most of the time, they're pretty damn expensive (Norm Thompson charges $30 for 1.4 lb), but I found that my favorite source for nuts and dried fruits,, sells 8oz for $9.99. Not cheap, but less expensive. And they're just as tasty, even if they're not packaged in a fancy box.


Just about everyone loves to drink a nice hot cuppa tea in the wintertime. David's is my new favorite place to buy tea, for myself and for everyone else. There's a shop on Bleecker Street in New York, and all over Canada, but if you can't get there, David's does mail order, too. Some of my favorite flavors: Chicory Dickory Dock, Coffee Pu'erh, and Genmaicha green.

Posted on