4 Great Gifts of Food

In honor of Cyber Monday, I’m rerunning a piece from last year. You’ll still find all of these in my kitchen–used all the time!

In normal times, gifts of food might seem a little uninspired, but these days not having to go to the store is a gift. On top of that, I’m sure we can all agree that whatever joy we’ve felt in the kitchen has worn a little thin. If you want to do some armchair food shopping for you or a friend, here are 4 of the sites—2 savory and 2 sweet that have my Amex on file. Act quickly if you need holiday shipping.

Accidental Locavore Rockerbox Garlic

  1. Rockerbox Spice: I chanced upon Rae and Rockerbox Spice many years ago at a local food festival when she was just doing garlic “dust.’ She’s expanded her line to include garlic in many forms, along with various spices and blends. As the pandemic rolls along and somedays I can’t be bothered to mince a shallot or clove of garlic, I just reach for her garlic or shallot flakes. Bonus on the garlic flakes, they don’t burn and turn bitter like fresh. And her everything bagel spice leaves Trader Joe’s in the dust (bin).
  2. Omsom: The newest business on the list and a delicious way to make dinner different, easy, and tasty. They started out with 3 Asian “starters”—sauce packets that you use to make Thai larb, Filipino sisig, and Vietnamese lemongrass BBQ. All of them are simple to make and taste great (although the larb might be my favorite). Since last year they’ve added 2 more sets one with Korean bulgogi, Chinese mala salad and a Japanese yuzo misoyaki and another made just for the Instant Pot and Air Fryer–both great!
  3. Cara-Sel: I have an old friend who is famous for saying that a piece of uneaten pastry was making him nervous. However, I feel the same way when I get close to the end of a jar of Cara-Sel, Kristin Nelson’s amazing salted caramel sauce. Who knew that butter, sugar, cream, sea salt and vanilla could taste so good? It’s become my secret ingredient in my granola, apple cake and a few other things.
  4. Dandelion Chocolate: When a little self-care is called for Dandelion chocolate is my go-to. Based in San Francisco, I have my friend Lisa to thank for this (and for the gorgeous Advent calendar she sent me from them). All their chocolate is top-notch—think single origin bars, but my favorites are their toffees. There’s a chocolate one with cocoa nibs and one with black and white sesame seeds—both yummy! My next splurge with them might be their chocolate chips—engineered by a Tesla designer because “the 80-year-old teardrop shape is ill-suited to its function”.

When you buy from any of these, not only will you be buying great gifts of food, you’re also supporting small, (mostly) women owned businesses. Another advantage, great customer service. When I messed up on two recent orders, a couple of quick emails took care of my screw-ups. Try doing that with a big box store. Enjoy and let me know your favorites!


9 thoughts on “4 Great Gifts of Food”

  1. I happen to like oatmeal but this tastes more like dessert. Use old fashioned oatmeal, just put some in a bowl with milk (I use whole milk), microwave ‘till cooked then add the apples, nuts and Cara-Sel. No butter or sugar needed. This is also great as a pie or ice cream topping.

  2. Anne,
    Just finished my lunch – oatmeal, chopped apple, walnuts, and Cara-Sel Caramel. Delicious on this snowy afternoon.

  3. Great to know! I’ll definitely stop by the next time I run low. Rae’s Everything Bagel has made a lot of ho-hum bagels taste much better! And I’m just addicted to Cara-Sel.

  4. Anne,
    I’m a big fan of Cara-Sel and Rockerbox. I love Cara-Sel with sliced apples, makes a delicious caramel buttercream frosting and of course right out of the jar with a spoon, yum. I too discovered Rae and her original Rockerbox garlic dust at a farmer’s market. Just discovered how delicious using her Everything Bagel mix stirred into cream cheese and using on celery and carrots.
    You can get them locally at my store, KC MERCANTILE in Clinton Corners.

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