It’s time to deck the halls with updated kitchen gear, fresh cookbooks and new food products. The biggest food gifts this holiday season will undoubtedly be Instant Pots and air fryers, but the smaller stuff — a meat thermometer, a Microplane, matching mixing bowls — also would be appreciated by the cook in your life.
Here are some ideas to show those foodies that you love them and want them to eat well — or at least have fun while they are eating. Don’t forget that Faraday’s Kitchen Store and Sur La Table have gift certificates for both kitchen gear and cooking classes.
Meal kits seem like a dime a dozen these days, but an Austin-based meal kit called Lettuce (lettuce.fm) started in 2016 and features locally grown ingredients, including some from a network of backyard gardens around the city. Unlike those meal kit boxes that arrive by mail, these are delivered in zero-waste packaging; All the ingredients come in reusable plastic and glass containers, and the company picks up your food scraps when they deliver the next set of meals. Founder Yogesh Sharma has more than 1,000 recipes that are divided up by dietary preference, so you can order gluten free, vegan, omnivore and more. The kits start at $49 for three two-serving meals, including delivery, which could be just the right gift for someone who is trying to get back into cooking at home.
CatSpring Yaupon is now selling a holiday-inspired tea blend made with locally harvested yaupon, America’s only native source of caffeine. The lightly spiced Deck the Hills yaupon tea ($12.95 for 2 ounces) has hints of both apple and pumpkin and is available online and at Central Market. (Founder Abianne Miller Falla has also written a children’s book about a raccoon called "Ralph’s Christmas Gift" that is available on their website, catspringtea.com.)
Srsly Chocolate, which is known for roasting and grinding its own cacao beans at its store in Taylor, has a holiday pop-up store in December at 4402 S. Congress Ave. At that location and a number of retailers across Austin, you can buy Srsly’s signature bean-to-bar chocolates, as well as a new product, a brownie mix ($15) that uses single origin cacao and Barton Springs Mill grains. The pop-up is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays in December.
Joel Mitter and Abbey Ciolek are two entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of a new cottage law that went into effect this year that allows food companies to sell and market their products to customers online. Their company, Sweet Bean, makes deep-dish cookies that are both vegan and gluten free, thanks to their creative use of chickpeas. The square, Detroit-style treats ($2) are dense on the inside and crispy on the outside and come in five flavors: chocolate chip, lemon poppyseed, golden mylk, pumpkin chip and snickerdoodle. You can order them for delivery on sweetbeanatx.com.
For someone who really likes to cook but hates standing on their feet, a GelPro mat might be in order. The Austin-based company has a new line of comfort mats with a washable accent rug on top. (The rug stays in place with slip-resistant grippers in each corner.) The Ergo Comfort Rug ($59.95 to $119.95) is designed for the kitchen or bathroom, and you can browse rug patterns on gelpro.com, but the mats are also available at retailers, including Bed Bath and Beyond.
Whataburger has seriously upped its online store in the past few years. From funny kids’ shirts and baby onesies or a holiday sweater to an orange-and-white Yeti tumbler and a set of Whataburger table tents, if you have a Whataburger fan in your life, you’ll find something fun for them at shop.whataburger.com. They even have a Whataburger nutcracker ($39.99).
Salad-lovers will love Austinite Jill Visit’s new invention: Salad Sling, a terry cloth salad spinner that takes up much less space than a plastic spinner. After a shoutout in the New York Times, Visit’s bright green, four-handled, 30-inch towel ($19.99) is getting a lot of attention, but it’s only available online for now at saladsling.com.
For a limited time, Tiff’s Treats is selling cookie dough for delivery or pickup at more than 30 of its stores in Texas and beyond. Through Christmas Eve, you can buy Take & Bake cookie kits with dough for two dozen chocolate chip cookies ($35) through cookiedelivery.com.
Another local chocolatier is Christina Hedrick, the founder of CruBom Raw Chocolate. She sells both truffles and chocolate bars ($7 and $10, respectively) made with a simple mix of fair-trade cacao, cold-pressed coconut oil and local honey. She sells at local pop-up markets and at crubom.com.
For a kid who loves books and cookies, consider I See Me’s custom baking children’s book called "Baking Cookies Together." Customers submit a cookie recipe and the names of the characters to be printed in the book, which comes in Hanukkah, Christmas and non-holiday versions. You can find more personalized books at iseeme.com.
We’re all food photographers these days, but if you’re really looking to improve your food styling and photo skills, check out Andrew Scrivani’s new food photography book, "That Photo Makes Me Hungry" ($24.95), a comprehensive how-to for making your food photos worthy of a cookbook (or Instagram).
For anyone in your life who is either indecisive or really into tarot cards, check out Food Fortunes, a deck of tarot-inspired food cards ($13.58) to help you figure out what to make for dinner tonight.
Austin maker Laura Lee Imhoff is selling homemade jams and embroidered kitchen towels ($25) through her website, Made by Laura Lee, madebylauralee.com. The kitchen towel with the state of Texas would make a particularly sweet gift for someone who loves Austin, and some of them come with a spice mix.
Easy Tiger sells a number of holiday breads, and I can’t think of a better host gift than a loaf of David Norman’s stollen ($14), a traditional German Christmas bread that is a cross between bread and cake. It’s not nearly as cloying as fruitcake, and the powdered sugar on the outside sweetens the yeasted dough on the inside.
Even if you don’t think you’re up for brewing beer or wine, Austin Homebrew Supply and SoCo Homebrew have so many fun kits for making yogurt, kombucha and even non-fermented projects, like infused alcohol or canning jam or pickles. Urban Cheesecraft makes a series of cheese-making kits, including a goat cheese kit ($29) and some dairy-free cheese kits, that my kids and I have enjoyed using this year.