Cool Yule, volume 2

December 2, 2009

Struggling with gift ideas for the cooks on your list? Here are two great ideas — one a bit extravagant and one less expensive -– that are sure to make the grade and not likely to be in their cupboards already:

‘I like you!” gift idea: Cupcake pens can be used to decorate all kinds of baked goods whether you’ve got artistic flair or two hands worth of thumbs.

“I love you!” gift idea: Yogurt makers aren’t just for people who wear sandals and socks (They used to be but things have changed now – I checked.) and this one is the Mac daddy of them all offering flexible timing options and the ability to make up to 8 flavours at a time! Seriously, 8 flavours.

If you’re an avid cook, what’s on your wish list this holiday season?

Double-duty packaging

October 23, 2009

bird house wine boxReduce, I support. Recycle, I support. But, reuse, I love!

Check out this great ‘green’ package. It’s a wine gift box that is also a hummingbird house! So clever.

As we proceed into the holiday dinner and cocktail party season, many people will pick up gifts, flowers or bottles of cheer to take to their hosts. What other smart double-duty packages can be used to carry a gift and then be used for something else? Gift bags don’t count – I want you to dig deeper today, dear readers.

PS: Here are instructions on how to make a wine bottle birdhouse.

Valentine’s Day musings

February 13, 2009


With Valentine’s Day just hours away, there are likely people reading this post who are wondering how to commemorate this marketer-made occasion. While I personally would love to get flowers (although not roses – maybe a tightly bound bouquet like the stunning arrangements at Joel Robouchon – you can see a picture of them in my facebook group photo album) from my honey, there are a lot of people who would rather have chocolates.

In fact, according to a poll conducted by Nestlé (makers of much-loved sweets such as Kit Kat candy bars and Haagen-Dazs ice cream), 59 per cent of Canadians agree that chocolate is the ultimate food indulgence. Their study also showed that while more Canadian women would prefer a gift of chocolate from their partner, men by far prefer a bottle of wine as a romantic token.

Personally, I’d rather not choose. In fact, why not snack on some chocolates and then wet your whistle with a few glasses of vino while you admire your flowers?

What about you? Will you give a Valentine’s gift to anyone? And, almost more importantly, do you expect to receive one?

Gift for the foodie who is also an art lover

December 21, 2008


What could be better than a delicious Granny Smith apple in your hand? Why one on your wall of course!

This lovely painting is by Toronto artist Vince McIndoe whose work is featured in many restaurants and private homes alike. We love his still life paintings featuring single food items but also stunning are his retro fab posters.

Need a McIndoe for the art loving foodie on your gift list? Email Vince (at) myconnection (dot) ca. I’m sure he’ll be able to hook you up!

Gift for the foodie who has everything

December 20, 2008


I don’t usually post on Saturday and Sunday but given how much hysteria I’ve detected from people who can’t believe how close Christmas is and how unprepared they are, I decided that this is the weekend to offer a couple of gift suggestions for those hard to buy for foodies on your list.

Today’s gift is for the super posh guy or gal you want to please. I’m talking about the aficionado who has been everywhere, has everything and generally is hard to impress.

This ultra chic hamper features champagne and ultra premium chocolates. It’s available from Fortnum & Mason’s US website and shipping is available to Canada.

Sad because you have no one on your list who’d appreciate such finery? Well then, it’s your lucky day since I happen to know a food trend expert/cookbook author who would love to receive a gift like this one!

Gourmet cupcakes in a jar

June 26, 2008

I love cupcakes. Not only is that not news, it doesn’t prove me to be original or unusual either. I’ve discovered that cupcakes are truly a defining icon of our present day society. From the little cakes themselves to whimsical art that animates the cupcake with human characteristics to snazzy t-shirts that let you have your cupcake and be stylin’, too, cupcakes are universally popular.

And just when it seemed like my cupcake love couldn’t deepen, I discover yet another way to enjoy these beguiling little treats: in a jar. “But why?” you ask? Forgive me but I counter with “why not?”

Not only are cupcakes in a jar less messy to eat, they’re portable and they make people smile! Although you can easily make your own (like we did at the Test Kitchen – that’s our handy work above), you also can buy these yummies ready-made.

• In Canada, contact Milsean bakery in Abbotsford, B.C. (I hear their buttercrunch candy is great, too); their birthday cakes, Irish apple cakes and figgy puddings are baked in jars. They’ve been unavailable for the last 6 months due to jar supply issues but are back!

• In the US, Fat Daddy Bakery in Illinois is widely acknowledged as the originator of the cupcake in a jar concept. I haven’t tried their product but the buzz I hear is all good.

Would you eat a cupcake from a jar? Or, perhaps a better question is how many cupcakes in a jar do you think you could eat before you needed to be a person on a couch?

Valentine’s Day food gifts

February 12, 2008


In just two days it will be Valentine’s Day and apparently cash registers are ringing. A group called the National Research Federation reports that their study of American Consumer Intentions reveals that the average person will spend $122.98 US on their loved ones this Valentine’s Day.

While a box of chocolates will never miss the mark with most valentines, this gift won’t likely be remembered for years to come. So why not make your spending count by choosing a gift for your food-loving valentine that carries a memorable message? Here’s a roster of gift ideas appropriate for food-loving valentines of all sorts. Choose the best option to express your feelings for the object of your affection:

• For the adorable wino you want to toast: Champagne always sends a romantic message. Opt for pink-tinged bubbles of Lanson or Mumm’s and your valentine will celebrate you.

• For the many sweet pals you want to remember: Low fat, fun and easy to personalize, friendship exchange packs send a sweet message.

• For the sophisticated chocolate lover you want to impress: A Michel Cluizel plantation specific chocolate sampler may seem like just another box of over priced candy but for students of chocolate it’s a decadent educational experience. Or, check out Candy Addict’s list of top candy gifts for more ideas, or the 10 best chocolate recipes at

• For the spicy dish you want to take a bite of right now: Your valentine will realize you want to go from ‘hello’ to ‘hubba hubba’ if you offer them a copy of Erotic Café, a risqué collection of tales that combine food and sex.

• For the hot potato you want to keep warm with all year: Show your Valentine how much you love spending time together by wrapping a copy of former ABC Bachelorette Meredith Phillip’s The Date Night Cookbook up in glossy red paper.