Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Fun, Easy Way to Make Ice Cream

Grace: I’ve always wanted to make homemade ice cream, but ice cream makers are so expensive and I don’t even eat that much ice cream.  Ice cream makers also aren’t that interactive for kids since it does all the work for you.

However, I found this fun gift called the Ice Cream Ball that is a great way for kids to make ice cream.  It doesn’t make a lot of ice cream, just a quart or a pint depending on what size you buy, but it’s still a great way for kids to experience making ice cream.  All you need to do is add the ingredients, and then roll the ball around for about 20 minutes, which shouldn’t be difficult for any active child.  It also seems to be quite popular when camping, since I’ve heard of people using it while on camping trips and loving it.  If you’re looking for a fun gift for kids, definitely consider the Ice Cream Ball.

Dan: This is a really wonderful gift idea.  It is a safe and non-MESSY way to make ice cream.  I used to make ice cream in middle school science class with dry ice.  I do not recommend that for home, haha.  I would absolutely buy this as a gift for someone.

Cookbook Holder

Grace: The one annoying thing about cooking and baking that I don’t think I’ll ever understand or get used to, is there’s no where to put the cookbook!  Sounds silly, but when you’re constantly walking from the table to the countertop, it gets really annoying…fast. I can’t lay the book on the counter because it’ll get dirty and it’s taking up valuable space, but I can’t prepare food on the table because it’ll just be one gigantic mess I’ll have to clean later.

A great gift idea for an avid cooker or baker, is a cookbook holder.  It props the cookbook up so that you can read it while preparing food.  This is a great gift to give because it’s probably something that the recepient would never think to get on their own, but once they have it, they won’t be able to imagine what life was like without it.

Dan: Hey that is definitely not a silly gift idea!  My mom is an avid chef, and she has quite the collection of cook books (anywhere from Indian to baking).  She has them scattered around all throughout the use, the most important of which are sitting in the kitchen on the countertop.  A gift such as this would be great for my mom, everything would be right at her fingertips!  This is such a great idea for people who love cooking!

Children’s Baking Kit

Grace: Growing up, whenever I wanted to bake it would be a huge hassle for my mom because I could never find anything and I would always make a mess pulling out all the decorations and such.  Also, by the time I finished baking, there would be too many cookies or cupcakes and we wouldn’t know what to do with the rest of them.  It would have made life so much easier on both me and my mom if I had my own baking kit.

I recently found this great cupcake baking kit that would be a great gift for a little girl.  It comes with a mini baking pan, 200 paper baking cups, an icing decorator with interchangeable tips, and four recipes.  I love that everything is miniture so there’s no worry that your child will be bouncing off the wall because she ate one, giant cupcake.  Whenever I would bake when I was little, I would always get so frustrated because my decorations would never look nice, but the icing decorator helps create very beautiful and professional (or as professional as little kids can get) looking cupcakes.  Every little child wants to act like an adult, and this baking kit will definitely make them feel grown up.

Dan: I think this is a great gift idea for a child Grace!  This really reminds me of an easy bake oven that my sister had when we were younger.  She would consistently make mini cakes and cookies and force me to eat them (boy I was in trouble if I didn’t).  This is a really quality gift that I completely endorse!

A Gift for Coffee Addicts

Grace: I hate to admit this, but I am absolutely addicted to coffee.  I like to think that it’s not my fault because my dad is the same way, so it clearly must be genetic and therefore out of my control.  Last Christmas, my aunt gave me and my dad a monthly coffee sampler where we received 2 bags of coffee every month, and I have to admit that it was the perfect gift for coffee-lovers.

It was so much fun to receive new and exotic flavors every month, and it was probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  Many of my friends also love coffee and would really enjoy this gift, but since it’s a bit pricey, I would probably settle for making my own little coffee gift basket complete with either a coffee thermos or even a french press (one can only have so many mugs and thermoses).

Dan: Like Grace, addiction does not quite describe my need of caffeine and coffee.  When I am at school I am always swamped with things to do either for my economics team or class.  I end up finding that a good amount of the time I do not have any relaxation time on a day to day basis.  With all of this, I usually never get enough sleep on a weekly basis and crash Friday and Saturday nights anywhere between 12 and 14 hours!  I need coffee to be alert in class or to be conscious enough to do my work.  A coffee sampler would not just be a great gift, but a magnificent gift for people like me.

Cook At School With Ease

Grace: For me, the most difficult part of having to live away from my family isn’t just that I miss them, but I also really miss home-cooked meals!  College food was exciting for about a week my freshman year, and it went downhill after that.  Even just being able to cook at school would be nice, but I don’t have any utensils!

A great multipurpose gift is this Crate and Barrel Kitchen Crock that has all kinds of useful utensils.  I can’t even begin to tell you how annoying it is to have to bake using plastic spoons and my rice cooker; it works, but life would be so much easier if I just had all the utensils to begin with.  This set is not only useful in the college world, but it’s also great for once the recepient leaves school because they won’t have to worry about buying kitchen supplies.  Not to mention, this gift is also great for new homeowners or newlyweds.  There is an endless number of people this gift would be perfect for!

Dan: This is a really great gift idea Grace!  I am somewhat in the same predicament since my roommates and I are missing a few crucial cooking/eating utensils.  Most of our forks, spoons, and knives are hand-downs from our grandparents and don’t even cut because they have not been sharpened in such a long time.  Save your college student despair and furnish them with this great gift.  This gift is really perfect for anyone who is in need of some kitchen utensils.

Let Them Eat Cake

Grace: If there is one thing I love to do, it’s bake.  I’m not an expert, but it’s fun to play around in the kitchen and experiment a little with my friends.  However, I get really bored of making the usual chocolate chip cookies, cake-from-a-box, etc.  I would like to be able to bake something more interesting, but I don’t have the time or expertise to try something like that.

I found these cute bug cake pans on the William Sonoma website the other day, and these would make a great gift for anyone.  Instead of just baking a plain, round cake, now you can bake one in a fun shape and just go to town decorating it.  I’ve given and received countless recipe books from my friends because we all enjoy baking (and eating), but in the end, we bake the same things over and over again.  At least with this gift we can continue to bake our usual things but this time in a fun shape.  I, personally, would rather receive baking paraphanelia than baking books, although I did find this book to be a great complimentary gift.  Plus, with this gift there is a good chance you could receive a delicious cake as a thank you gift in return!

Dan: I have absolutely nothing against baking!  I cannot cook or bake if my life depended on it but I can eat baked goods with great speed and skill.  I am sure that if I loved to bake these would make a great gift for me, instead I will just recognize that this is a great gift recommendation.  My family and friends love to bake and they would truly appreciate a gift like this.  Thanks for the gift recommendation Grace!

Relax and Enjoy Your Wine

Grace: My parents, like many people, enjoy a nice glass of wine during dinner, but it of course has to be properly chilled beforehand. Unfortunately, our fridge isn’t able to comfortably fit a bottle of wine without some clever maneuvering, and I always manage to knock something over trying to get to things around the wine.

However, I found this really practical gift that I think my parents would enjoy. This electronic wine cooler takes the hassle out of trying to get wine to the correct temperature. Instead of constantly leaving the table to go to the fridge, you can relax and actually enjoy a meal and good conversation. This gift is perfect for people, like my parents, who appreciate nice wine but aren’t experts on the subject.

Dan: The wine cooler is a wonderful gift recommendation for those who enjoy wine for the most simple reasons or for the really educated wine enthusiast.  At my own home my parents too have a difficult time fitting a bottle of wine into the normal old refigerator.  It usually ends up right next to the ketchup on the inside of the door.  Another wine recommendation is a wine rack.  My parents needed one desperately as the wine bottles started to make a pile on one of the kitchen counters.  What a great gift recommendation!

The Green Perspective

Dan: Grace just went on vacation for a few days and then she is off to Hamilton this weekend so we will all miss her :-( . A reader from Philadelphia wanted us to check out their own site! The site is called thegreenperspective and it features a bounty of really great environmentally safe and self sustaining products. My personal favorite gift package that the site has to offer would be the “green your kitchen” package. It features a really unique bowl, a book titled In Defense of Food, utensils and environmentally friendly cleaning products!

I recently watched a news segment roughly a month ago about how common household cleaners can be more harmful to your health than you may think. Among the top qualifiers are air fresheners, ammonia, bleach, carpet shampoos, dishwasher detergent, drain cleaner, furniture polish, mold and mildew cleaners, oven cleaners, antibacterial cleaners, laundry products, and toilet bowl cleaners…phew. This is part of the reason why I love this gift package so much. You can clean your kitchen in an environmentally friendly manner and protect yourself from harmful chemicals at the same time! In addition, you can protect yourself from harmful chemicals including pesticides and hormones when eating organic foods versus processed inorganic compounds.

I really like this site, and everything featured on is a good gift idea. The one I liked best is only one great option to living a greener life!

Taking the Mess Out of Making Tea

Grace: I’ve mentioned before how much I love tea, and I’m always looking for new ways to drink it. You may be thinking that tea is tea; it comes in a bag, you put it in hot water and it’s done, how else would you drink it?

In my opinion, however, loose tea tastes much better than teabags, but when I’m at school I don’t usually have a strainer or a teapot with a built in strainer. I could just wait for the tea to settle at the bottom of the cup, but even then it’s kind of messy and there’s always a few tea leaves that just won’t settle.

Luckily for me, my roommate last year was also a tea fanatic, and she received this Tea Stick Infuser as a gift and loved it. The tea stick saved all the flavor of loose tea, but it was so much easier to clean up. It measures just one cup of tea, perfect for when you’re not entertaining anyone. I would highly recommend considering this as a gift for an avid tea drinker instead of just buying them tea (although that’s also just as well appreciated!).

Dan: The tea stick infuser is a great gift idea for any and all avid tea lovers.  I love to drink tea, but unfortunately I have never taken the time to learn the art of making great tea myself.  I either go with the simple bags or buy some while walking to class.  However, I am convinced and intrigued by this gift idea and might just check it out myself!  Great gift idea!

Maine Maple Syrup…You’ll Never Go Back to Aunt Jemima

Dan: I’m back! I was just on vacation in Farmington, Maine staying at a camp on Clearwater Lake. It is amazing what a little fresh air can do. Having grown up in an urban area, getting the chance to escape somewhere that has clean air and a cool breeze is really refreshing. Since being away Grace has come up with some really great gift ideas. My favorite being the latest with the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

It must be no wonder having just come back from Maine to suggest pure Maine maple syrup as a gift idea. To be honest I have never tried it before my vacation and it is amazing. Most “syrups” that you can buy at the grocery store are just a culmination of artificial flavoring and corn syrup. When you really take the time to look at the back of the bottle, it’s haunting to realize what you are about to consume.

Pancakes before real syrup…ok, after…awesome

Waffles before real syrup…ok, after…delicious

Not only is Maine maple syrup organic and better tasting, you can really admire its value when looking at the process of turning the sap into a tasty topping. It takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. In order to make a reasonable amount of syrup that will last you and your family a long time, multiple trees need to be tapped. The process of making syrup is very involved, so hopefully this University of Maine guide should help if you want to try it yourself. However, it is much easier to buy a bottle for yourself or as a tasty gift! Trust me, I will never go back to Aunt Jemima or any other “fake” syrup.

Grace: Mmmm, there is no such thing as too much sugar, or at least I think so. I haven’t had maple syrup in a while, but I remember vacationing in Vermont and bringing back TONS of it because it was just so good! I’m not really sure what the difference between Vermont maple syrup and Maine maple syrup is, but I’m sure Maine’s version is just as delicious! Natural maple syrup is definitely a luxurious yet completely unique gift. I also really liked the gift basket with the natural maple syrup and the organic honey.  I think Dan came up with a great gift idea; maybe he should go on vacation more often?