Christmas Gifts: 6 Ideas for Giving and Getting

by Anne Maxfield on December 1, 2014

In the quest for seasonal search-engine optimization, the Accidental Locavore is offering up a list of food-related items you might want to consider giving or getting. No particular order here, but all worth your attention.

Books: yeah, original thought — right? These are a couple of cookbooks that I’ve actually used and enjoyed and one that I wouldn’t usually consider, but might have to have just for the cover.

  1. David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen: This is the cookbook I’ve actually cooked from the most this year. There’s a lot of great recipes in the book, a lot I’ve tried and a lot more waiting to be used. He writes well, which is a plus, and there are enough photos of Paris and the food there to make you want to book a ticket.Accidental Locavore Chicken Lady Chicken
  2. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More: My friend Bob was kind enough to send me a signed copy of this and I quickly broke it in with the spicy turnips. Cauliflower cake and a tomato salad were other great dishes and, again, there are lots more to play with!Accidental Locavore Cauliflower Cake
  3. Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi: This is the one I normally wouldn’t be terribly interested in as baking doesn’t happen very often chez moi, but I just made the golden caramel tart which was amazing and the cake on the cover just makes me drool, so if Santa wants to encourage my baking side, I could make room on the shelf for Dorie.Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

Gear: This is stuff I wouldn’t have rushed out to buy myself, but you’d have a big fight on your hands if you tried to take it away!

  1. My Sansaire sous-vide machine: A very generous gift from my friend Zhu Zhu, I never thought this would be as essential as it is, but just consider it to be the newer, cooler version of a crock pot. The other advantage to it is that you can essentially pre-cook food when you have time (say a weekend) and finish it off quickly when you come home after a long day.Accidental Locavore Sansaire
  2. GIR silicone lids: If you didn’t get in on their Kickstarter campaign, you can pre-order these lids, and if you do it soon, they’ll be under this year’s tree. Not to worry too much, whenever you get them will be a good day. The lids come in seven colors and easily go from fridge to microwave. Sayonara saran wrap.Accidental Locavore Lids
  3. The Thermapen digital instant-read thermometer: This was another extravagant gift from Zhu Zhu, but this time it was for my husband. Funny how it fell into the wrong hands…and speaking of the wrong hands, the only downside of it is that it’s decidedly for right-handed users. However, it’s so cool and hugely useful that my much more basic (but ambidextrous) model hasn’t seen the light of day in months.Accidental Locavore Thermapen

I’m sure there’s lots more, but this would be a good start for anyone. What’s on your list?


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Accidental Locavore ElixirsHow could you not like a hot sauce (or a series of hot sauces) called Elixirs of Pain? The Accidental Locavore is a sucker for a good name and/or a well-designed package. And we know that I like a good hot sauce (or 50). So who was I to blithely skip by a Kickstarter project for a line of hot sauces? It turned out that I wasn’t the only one seduced by a pretty label; this ended up being one of the most (over) funded projects on Kickstarter, and that’s where the fun began.

The problem with a lot of things on Kickstarter is that once you have them funded, you have to produce them and not everyone is prepared to ramp-up in dramatic fashion. One day you have what you think is a good idea, the next day you have to make thousands of bottles of hot sauce. This was the case with Elixirs.

At first, the emails with status updates were amusing. Picture a man alone in a very small space who thought he would make up a few small batches of some different hot sauces, now surrounded by mountains of chiles, thousands of bottles, huge vats, etc. Then add in the lovely weather we had last summer and start cooking hot sauce. Not fun. And he had the added pressure of trying to scale up his operation, make the sauce, ship it around the globe and make a deadline, while we, his investors, just wanted our stuff.

To sit on the sideline and watch how entrepreneurs approach their businesses is always interesting. That’s what makes watching Shark Tank so fascinating and highly educational. This was the same thing. Much time was spent on discussions about t-shirts (hugely prevalent on Kickstarter – what do people do with all those t-shirts?) and a lot more on the difficulty in getting tons of fresh chiles in what was rapidly becoming the wrong season. Later, choosing to ship to the smaller investors before letting the bigger players come and pick up was a mistake that alienated anyone who was still on his side.

After the deadline had come and gone, and there was no hot sauce in sight, the emails started to grow more frantic and his Facebook page was filled with comments by many not-so-happy investors. And eventually both sides just became hostile.

I picked my box up (yes, complete with t-shirt) shortly after Thanksgiving. So far I’ve tasted two of the six elixirs. They are indeed hot! By the time they ended up in my possession, what with the drama and the poor handling of the situation, my interest in the project was long gone. Since we were moving and the opened hot sauce needed to be refrigerated (having heard the story of their creation, I wouldn’t take chances leaving them at room temp), I didn’t want to be adding another four items to my already over-capacity fridge. From what I read on Facebook, people seem to like them a lot, the most recent question being whether there will ever be any more. Hmmm…maybe I’ll put my unopened bottles on Ebay (with the t-shirt). Any opening bids?


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