Tag Archive for angie quaale

Christmas Gifts for Foodies (2018 Edition)

Read through to the end of the post for the chance to win a $50 Fresh Prep gift card! 

Well, here we are in December, and Christmas is just around the corner.

I’m going through my annual struggle; what do I buy people? What cookies do I make to give away? When will I have time to even bake cookies??

The good news is, I have very few people to buy presents for. I usually make lots of cookies and give those out to family and friends, but the main person I buy presents for is Michael. As he gets older, though, it becomes a bit more of a challenge to buy stuff for him. When he was younger, there were always cool toys and games, but now that stuff no longer applies.

So this year, I’ve decided to go in a different direction. This year is going to be more about experiences rather than stuff.

As time goes on, I become more concerned about the state of the environment, and more aware of what I’m doing and how it’s affecting the world. So I’m trying to be more conscious of gifts that don’t create waste, are more sustainable choices and are better for the environment, ideally support local businesses, and/or are more about the experience and creating memories rather than stuff (that may or may not be wanted). Think presence rather than presents. Of course you can always take your special person out for a meal at your/their/a new favourite restaurant. But I’m trying to think of alternatives to that experience.

Having said all of that, I humbly put forth my ideas for Christmas Gifts for Foodies for this year.

Cooking Classes. A cooking class for you and your friend/S.O. or family member is a great gift. You get to first of all spend time together, you get to learn something, and then you get to eat it at the end! It’s a win/win/win. Check out Dirty Apron or PICA. Maybe learn to make cheese with Paula? Or if you’re vegan, take one of Karen McAthy’s.

Fresh Prep Spicy Red Pepper Tofu

Prep-at-home meal kits. If you can’t get out to a cooking class, home-delivered meal kits are a great alternative. I really like Fresh Prep. They are committed to sustainability, and creating less waste, which I love. They deliver the meal kits by bicycle courier! They have vegetarian options, and they are suitable for all levels of cooking experience. If you’re just learning, they’re great, and if you’re a more experienced cook like me, they offer something new and interesting. And making a meal with a loved one is a great way to spend time together. Add a bottle of wine, and voila! instant date night. I also buy gift certificates for friends who are recently married, who have just had a baby…

Want to try it for yourself?? Just use the code INFCOLEMAN18 when you sign up here, and you’ll get $33 off your first order!

Food Experiences. In this category, I’m thinking wine tastings, beer flights, charcuterie. You can, for example, put together a selection of 3 wines to pair alongside different types of chocolates or cheeses, and then make a night of it. Or visit a local winery for a tour and a tasting. I like Backyard’s wine and charcuterie experience.

Homemade goodies. I’m a big proponent of homemade goodies to gift. For me, it often takes the form of cookies or preserves. However, an alternative I’m excited about this year is the mason-jar option. You can make a cookie or brownie mix and gift it in a pretty mason jar. You can do the same with Instant Pot options. Another option? Homemade vanilla (but you’d better start it now).

Cookbooks

Cookbooks. I named this blog Cooking by Laptop because I found that I was cooking more and more from google and the internet than I was from my cookbooks. But I still love cookbooks deeply, and perhaps even more so since writing one myself. There’s always a selection on my coffee table. Some of my recent favourites include Cooking in Color, Bottom of the Pot, and Eating Local in the Fraser Valley (Angie lists agendas in the back of her book for foodie adventures).

Staub La Coquette

Legacy Kitchen Gear. Okay, these are the pricier gifts, but they are also gifts that last a lifetime. A dutch oven from Staub or Le Cruset is incredibly versatile–I use mine to make soups and stews, to braise in the oven, and I even make bread in it! Plus they are so pretty. Mine lives on my stove year-round, even when I’m not using it. A good chef’s knife will last a lifetime, or a really good blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec is basically forever.

SingleTree Wine Jellies

Specialty ingredients. There are things that many foodies lust for, but tend to be more expensive, and if you don’t have a reason to buy them, you might not. I’m talking about really good quality olive oils or balsamics, flavored sea salts (I love Amola and Vancouver Island Sea Salt. Specialty coffee is always wonderful, as is truffle oil. I also love to gift locally-made preserves, like Vista D’oro’s or Salt Spring Kitchen Co, or wine jellies to serve with your charcuterie. I am also IN LOVE with this local goat milk caramel.

Blue Grouse Wine Candles

Candles. I like food-scented candles a lot. My go-to are the vanilla ones from Ikea, but there are some locally-made versions that rock. Cartems, my #1 all time favourite donuts, have just launched a line of donut scented candles. Let me say that again: donut scented candles!!!! You can also buy wine-scented candles from Blue Grouse, that come in an upcycled wine bottle.

Giveaway!!

Tis the season for gift-giving, so I have one for you. Fresh Prep has kindly offered one of my readers a $50 Gift Card for their service, so you can try it for free, or you can gift it to someone for Christmas!

To enter, just comment below and tell me what’s on your Christmas wish list this year.

I’ll choose one lucky winner at random on Friday, December 14.

Good luck!

 

Fraser Valley Roasted Carrots

This is the second post this week where I’m focusing on the food of the Fraser Valley.

We’re incredibly lucky to have such lush farmland just a few minutes’ drive away (okay, so it might be closer to an hour, but hey, it’s still pretty local), where we can source locally grown fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats.

I’m going to skip the meats, but I do really support an environment where you know your farmer, and your farmer knows his or her product, be it animal or vegetable.

milner farm aged goat cheese

One of our stops on our Fraser Valley Food Tour was at Milner Valley Cheese. There’s something really cool about being able to see (and pet!) the goats that make the milk that they turn into cheese. It’s a full farm-to-table operation there. The goats are milked twice daily, and then that milk is turned into cheese right there on the premises.

milner farm chevre

That means it’s pretty much the freshest chevre you’ve ever eaten. It was delicious. I was pretty smitten with their aged goat cheese, which had a similar consistency to a parmesan or an aged gouda. Oh–and by the way–they also make their own goat gelato. Yeah! And it’s really tangy and yummy.

We came home from our Fraser Valley Foodie Tour with a bunch of beautiful, fresh ingredients–produce, cheese and berries–and then of course, I had to do something with it all!

petting goats

Petting goats at Milner Farms.

Angie’s book, Eating Local in the Fraser Valley not only profiles local food producers in the valley, but also those who make the food. There are profiles of chefs, and there are recipes that will help you use up all the yummy goodness.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Carrots with Parsnips and Chickpeas Angie Quaale

Recipe and photo courtesy of Random House. Reproduced with permission.

One such recipe is Angie’s Sweet and Spicy Roasted Carrots with Parsnips and Chickpeas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb small carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained–save the aquafaba!)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Halve the carrots and parsnips lenghtwise. Place on a baking pan in a single layer, and then add the chickpeas. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over the chili flakes and the salt and then toss to combine. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven, stir well, and return to bake for another 15 minutes, until carrots and parsnips are fork-tender and chickpeas are crispy.
  4. Transfer to a platter to serve, drizzle over the pomegranate molasses, chunks of feta, and sprinkle with parsley.

Sounds good, right??? Here is my variation on this recipe.

roasted carrots

I didn’t have parsnips, but I did get some beautiful rainbow carrots at the Farmer’s Market, so I used just those. I also can’t use chili flakes because the boy can’t manage anything that’s hot or spicy, so I used za’atar instead. If you’re not familiar, za’atar is a middle-eastern spice blend made with oregano, sesame, and sumac. It’s very warming. I also didn’t have feta (basically failing at this recipe), but I did have the super tasty aged goat cheese I’d gotten from Milner farms, so I shaved that over the top. Finally, I subbed out balsamic reduction for the pomegranate molasses. Oh! and I made a pesto from the carrot tops.

We had these as a side with some veggie burgers, and they were soooo good!

Get out and explore your backyard! You never know what tasty treasures you might discover.

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