Shopping for people like me is so easy. Can you eat it? Can you apply high heat to it? Can it live in the kitchen among the tongs and jars of cardamom pods and flour dust? Will I begin to salivate when I open it? If you've answered yes to even one of those questions, you win. And if you live in close proximity to the gift-getter, you will probably also win a lovely dinner or tasty bakery item or special cocktail snack created in your name because the recipient will be so inspired by your gift.
For the Cookbook Hound
The Alinea cookbook is a massive and inspiring tome, one that most people will drool and dream over and never use. Who has acetate in the pantry? Better yet is the 1001 Foods To Die For, which focuses on exotic ingredients and dishes that don't require a degree in physics. Two of my favorite books, which keep disappearing from my shelf, are Nigel Slater's Appetite and Sally Schneider's The Improvisational Cook. Both show you how to work outside of a recipe and cook with hunger and confidence. If you're looking for a food book instead of a cookbook, Secret Suppers looks like the coolest read of the year. And Powell's will buy any of your old books back online!
For the Cheese Head
Those of us who have desperately wanted a cheese-of-the-month club membership will probably be just as happy with Home Cheese Making and a gift card or gift box from Premier Cheese Market. Throw in a few cheese papers and a journal, and your dairy-lover will be over the cheese-filled moon.
For the Gadgety Girl or Guy
A cute corn zipper will pay dividends in August, but an immersion blender is the number-one thing that most cooks put off buying for themselves. The baker's edge brownie pan gives crust-lover's a new hope. Join the Soda Club, and make your own club soda at home, just like Mimi Eisenhower did! The pie crust bag is tops on my list. Imagine rolling out any kind of dough without fighting the sticky rolling pin. Everyone should have a mango cutter because those things are nightmares to deal with.
For the Food Activist
Shave off a touch of the guilt for her with carbon offset credits, which should allow her to throw you a party and still feel good about her footprint. Choose the Not a Paper Cup so that she can haul her fair-trade coffee around in an eco-friendly manner. Or go for the full bundle, complete with reusable bag and Sigg bottle. In the end, the best gift for the activist may be the one that keeps giving; donate in her name to the Land Stewardship Project or the Minnesota Project.
For the Stephanie March in Your Life
The cool cats at ecreamery let you create, name, and design the packaging for your own unique ice-cream flavor. Are you ready for my ginger bacon rocky road? The most fashionable thing the hipster cook can sport is some food-lover temporary tattoos that will rock the kitchen. Finger food mini-plates! Are you kidding me? I might just wear these around in case I run into a generous sampler at the market. BrightFeet lighted slippers will nearly guarantee stealthy late-night snacking so that I may rightly score the last piece of cake.