My hope for you is that you have finished your holiday shopping, but just in case you are in the same panic as my dear friend who called last night, I thought a last minute list of some of my favorite gifts might be helpful.
For the cook in your life, this was a great year for cookbooks. Two of my favorites are from Southern ladies who have as much gumption as they do skill in the kitchen. Basic to Brilliant, Y’all from Virginia Willis includes 150 Southern recipes that she has refined and added a twist to so that you can make a “brilliant” version on those days you want to show off or have company. Virginia has a patient instructor’s approach so that even the novice cook can easily follow and create an amazing dish with her guidance.
Lisa Fain, also known in the blog world as The Homesick Texan, has created a cookbook of her favorite Texas recipes. When Lisa moved to New York years ago, she couldn’t find the foods she missed from home and she started making the dishes herself. This cookbook is the perfect gift for the Texan in your life who is far from home or any Texan who wants to learn to cook the traditional dishes of our heritage.
This year I gifted magazines to many of my friends and family. A subscription to Edible Austin, and yes I’m biased since I write for them, is a great way to share Austin with your friends who have moved away. My aunt says it is one of the prettiest magazines she’s ever seen and I agree with her.
One of my friends gave me a subscription to Garden + Gun last year, a magazine that celebrates Southern culture, and it has quickly become my reason to stalk the mailman. I devour the issues and can’t wait for the next to arrive. I was happy to share the magazine this year with some of my friends with deep Southern roots.
Johnson’s Backyard Garden has made it easy to give the gift of local food by offering Farmers Market Bucks that can be used to buy produce at their farm stands and CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) Gift Subscriptions with which the recipient can order 4 or more CSA boxes. Both gifts are a wonderful way to introduce local food to friends or family who aren’t sure where to start.
You still have one more round of farmers markets on Saturday to find last minute stocking stuffers or gift baskets, although I expect all of the markets will be a little smaller with some vendors and farmers taking off early for the holidays. The Downtown and Sunset Valley markets from the Sustainable Food Center are consolidating and will be at Sunset Valley only (by the Berger Center), and the Barton Creek and Cedar Park Farmers Markets will be in full swing. I did hear a rumor that Santa might be stopping by the Barton Creek Farmers Market.
I recently stopped by Antonelli’s Cheese to put together a quick basket of local goodies for my family from Wichita Falls. What better way to share the Christmas spirit than with jars of Confituras preserves, Blue Heron Cajeta and CKC Farms feta.
I’m a big fan of the Blue Avocado shopping and storage bags as a stylish way to avoid the plastic bags at the store. I love my bags – they are pretty, light weight and clean up easily.
If your friends and family are more diners than cooks, gift cards to a local restaurant are an easy way to help them enjoy the holidays. Check out my SXSW restaurant guide from earlier this year or the Edible Austin website for ideas on locally sourcing restaurants.
And, of course, don’t forget the charitable gifts. You can invest in our local food system by donating to one of these fine Texas non-profits who are working to end food insecurity and increase the capacity of local farms, food artisans and chefs: Sustainable Food Center, Urban Roots, Capital Area Food Bank, Urban Harvest and San Antonio Food Bank. You can’t go wrong by supporting one of these groups.
Go finish your shopping so you can enjoy your holiday!