Happy Xmas

In second grade, after seeing an ad on television for the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund during Tiny Toon adventures, I gathered up a box of my toys and wrapped them in newsprint to give to needy kids.  Not understanding that they would only accept new toys, I proudly presented them to my Mom to donate.  I also had no idea that the tree in our living room, the gifts under it, and many of our dinners that December had been provided by that very charity.  Though we didn't always have a telephone or electricity, I thought we lived comfortably enough.  It was kind of exotic to do homework by candle light like they did in the olden days.  Though my Mom didn't teach me to cook, she did teach me to shop on a budget, celebrate little things (champagne for Arbor Day!), appreciate the kindness and generosity of others, reciprocate, to write thank you notes, and about the importance of a well-rounded record collection.  We sometimes had to "grocery shop" at the local food pantry, but we also volunteered there regularly. 

Yes, the economy has gone to shit.  I'm not going to let that spoil my gift-giving fun.  Certainly it is a time for scaling back, reassessing America's sad backward values, and avoiding the big box retail hellhole.  It is not a time to ignore the thoughtful act of giving.  People should still party, still celebrate their friendships and forced workplace acquaintances. Donate canned goods.  Make homemade gifts.  Participate in Dirty Santa. Have a potluck.  Shop at a thrift store.  Send a card by post.  Do it your damn self. 

My favorite holiday card was made with scissors, glue, a Sears catalog, a sense of humor and a copy machine.  Some of my best holiday memories revolve around family traditions like fresh delivered homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas Day (from the Walkers!) and sitting on the counter while my Grandma Georgia made batches and batches of fudge and divinity.  Most of my presents this year will be edible, but as an homage to my favorite thrifty mother-daughter pastime - window shopping! - here are a slew of beautiful, silly, practical and covetable food-related items perfect for gifting or if you prefer, just wishing...

Six barware glasses, $39 at Velocity

Momofuku Cookbook, $23.40 at Amazon

Jelly Roll Pans with Cooling Racks, $30 at Sur La Table

Kitchy Coasters, Set of Six $6 at Anne Taintor

vic firth french rolling pin, $13.95 at Amazon

fallen hardwood serving trays, $36 at show

pastry scraper, $8 at William Sonoma

ACME shopping bags, starting at 8.95 at reusablebags

birch covered flowerpot, $3.99 at save on crafts

home sous vide machine, $449 at Sous Vide Supreme

porcelain salt & pepper shakers, $14 at Backgarage's Etsy Store

cocoa powder, 13.99 at Valrhona

slate cheese board, $69 at Viva Terra

Michael Aram Woodgrain Tray, $225 at Waterford

Besides this one, my favorite holiday food round-ups:
Dave Lebovitz lists his favorite cookbooks of the year.
Lottie & Doof celebrate 12 days of cookies with beautiful photos and recipes.
For under $10, The Kitchn's list makes for affordable stocking stuffers.

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