Do you struggle to find useful, meaningful gifts?
Not just something that will sit on a shelf and never be use but a gift that will make life easier and more enjoyable?
To help you out this year (and so I don't forget my own gift ideas), I’ve come up with a guide to help you find your REAL FOODie friends and family (or maybe yourself!) that perfect holiday gift.
(Why don't you forward this post to someone to help them find Real Food gifts too!)
I have all these in my own kitchen and they make cooking real food so much faster, easier, and much more enjoyable.
The Ultimate Real Food Holiday Gift Guide
A Quality Knife Set.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been visiting a friend or teaching someone in their home and cannot find a decent, sharp knife! A GOOD set of knives makes preparing real foods a pleasure.
A good, easily sharpened knife set does not have to be expensive. Some of my favorite knives (and I have a lot of knives!) are U.S. made Ontario Knife Company carbon steel Old Hickory brand knives. An Old Hickory Paring Knife, a Slicing Knife, a Cook Knife, and a Cleaver can all be had for less than $100. This assortment will do just about everything needed for cooking real food!
A Knife Block.
Don’t waste money on good knives only to have your Real Foodie friend or relative toss them into a jumbled drawer to get knocked around and dull. A wooden or bamboo knife block can be found for less than $30. Don’t want one on the counter? Get a drawer knife block instead!
A Honer & Sharpener.
I learned many years ago that having good knives was not helpful if I could not keep them SHARP! So two more essential tools that go hand in hand are a usable knife sharpener and a honer.
I inherited a rolling knife sharpener from my in-laws. It has been the best tool for keeping my knives sharpened. Look for vintage Robo and Robo Junior Rolling Knife Sharpeners on Etsy or eBay.
A honer or “knife steel” is used to give your knives a quick sharpen just before use and can be had from places like Amazon for under $20.
Wood Cutting Board.
Yes, wood. Yes, for everything. EVERYTHING! These are so much better than those plastic cutting boards. And because they are real wood, they are naturally able to combat pathogens that otherwise like to hang out on plastic cutting boards.
I purchased a beautiful edge cut maple cutting board, approximately 11” x 17” from a small U.S. producer a few years ago, after my cheap wood cutting board fell apart. It is more than an inch thick! I just rinse it off in hot water with a squirt of soap and scrub it a bit with a green scrubby between uses.
Coupled with the knives above, prepping real food is so easy! Check out eBay for some beautiful (and budget-friendly) options or send me an email and ask about my local craftsman friend. Expect to pay anywhere from $30-100.
A Cast Iron Fry Pan (or two!!).
I came across Lodge brand cast iron cookware when we first arrived in Tennessee 20 years ago. I have a number of pieces I use regularly, but none are as heavily used as my cast iron fry pan. A bonus: Lodge Cast Iron cookware is made right here in East Tennessee.
You can cook everything from pastured fried eggs & frittatas to lamb or pork chops in one these. Get a 12” pan with the ergonomic handle on the end opposite the regular handle. And check your local hardware store as many carry Lodge products. About $30.
A Stove Top & Oven Proof Dutch Oven.
A Dutch Oven should be stainless steel or enameled cast iron. Personally, I prefer the latter and purchased a couple of vintage Descoware Dutch Ovens from eBay. Le Creuset & Lodge both carry good quality enameled cast iron.
Slow oven cooked roasts and stews are out of this world when cooked in a low oven for 6 or 8 hours. A crockpot will do but the flavor is not the same! These can be a bit pricey. But they will last forever. I use mine for soups, pot roasts, and curries. Be sure and use wood or bamboo utensils so you don’t chip the enamel (ask me how I know!)
The Amazen Smoke Tube.
The Smoke Tube was a recent discovery for me and it is a game changer! Suddenly, hot or cold smoking on a grill can be done anywhere, by anyone with this simple stainless steel tube and some all wood smoke pellets.
Want a smoked ham for the holidays? Yup. This will do it! Or maybe a bit of smoke on those pork chops? Uh huh.
I recommend the 12” model. But if you have a small grill, the 6” model will work just fine. And don’t forget a variety of wood smoke pellets. Applewood, cherry, hickory, or mesquite. All for under $40.
An Instant Read Thermometer.
An Instant Read Thermometer is really the best way to know if your Grass-fed Lamb leg, Forest Raised Pork ham roast, or pastured chicken is done. It will give you or your Real Foodie confidence when cooking those pricier cuts.
These digital thermometers can be had for a little as $10 and make a great stocking stuffer for the Real Foodie in your life.
Good ones. Not the cheap ones that break after a year or two of use. I bought a set of tongs over 20 years ago and they are still going strong. Tongs are perfect for flipping chops, browning roasts, or grabbing hot stuff off the grill or from the oven.
The brand I bought years ago was Edlund and lo and behold, they are still just as durable & well made! I now have a longer pair for grilling. About $12 on Amazon and great for as a Real Foodie’s stocking stuffer.
Your Real Foodie would LOVE a variety of gourmet salts. I have purchased from Saltworks for many years. They offer an incredible variety of salts from around the world. I love both the Sel Gris and Pink Himalayan for daily use.
They also offer various smoked and flavored salts. So if you don’t think the Amazen Smoker Tube will fly or you don't have a place to grill, try some smoked salts. They have Applewood, Alderwood, Oak, Mesquite, and Hickory smoked salts, to name a few! Purchase them in the refillable grinder so they can add a bit of smoke any dish quickly.
These smoked salts make great stocking stuffers or get a bunch (along with a few of the Fusion flavored salts like Curry, Chipotle, or Lime) and you’ll be someone’s favorite gift giver! Individual salts start around $10 and they have lovely salt collections and free shipping all the time!
Real, quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is so hard to find. But a good bottle, when used unheated for drizzling & dipping, is well worth the cost. It adds a great flavor to salads topped with Raw Feta or a Caprese Salad made with Fresh Mozzarella.
Good quality olive oils are now available (almost!) locally. Look for quality Georgia and Texas grown olive oils available online. A 1/2 liter bottle is available for under $35. You'll have your Real Foodie drooling.
The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.
The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook is my most used cookbook! Delicious, easy recipes and guides to all things grass-fed & pastured. This book was a lifesaver when I was learning to cook our grass-fed lamb and forest raised pork.
The book covers beef, bison, venison, lamb, goat (chevon), pork, turkey, chicken, duck, goose, eggs, & dairy. My husband loves the food I make him from recipes in this book! The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook will turn your Real Food Skeptic into a Real Foodie, too!
Nourishing Traditions is the book that got me started on my Real Food journey more than a decade ago! It’s more than a cookbook. Nourishing Traditions has detailed information on food nutrients, good fats, cooking methods, grain preparations, broths and fermented foods, to name a few.
Nourishing Traditions is so full of informative nutrition information, I even use this as part of my children's’ High School Health course!
You're looking for Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. This is an excellent starter book to get you going on salting, brining, smoking, and otherwise making your own fabulous cured meats & fish.
I use many of Ruhlman’s basic salting & brining recipes to make Bacons, Hams, and Sausages from our Forest Raised Pork. I've also made Lamb Pancetta & Lamb Proscuitto (from our Grass-fed Lamb) with the techniques learned from Charcuterie. These foods really are simple and rewarding to make at home. And once they are made, you can eat them for many months. What could be more convenient?
Wild Fermentation is the original book that kicked off the Fermentation Frenzy. Sandor Katz, a native New Yorker turned Tennessean, like me, covers veggies, sourdough, kefir, and kombucha. I found my first kefir grains and kombucha SCOBY with the references in this book. It’s a great way to give your Real Foodie an inspirational fermentation boost! They (and you!) will have healthier guts too.
That's it for my 2017 Ultimate Real Food Holiday Gift Guide!
Do you know someone who could use some Holiday Gift Inspiration?
Why don't you send them a link to this article?