Happy New Year! I can’t think of anything more traditional for New Year’s Day than good ol’ Pork and Sauerkraut!
Where I grew up was on the border between the outskirts of Philadelphia and the eastern reaches of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. This led to two different traditions in my household. The Mummer’s Parade or the Tournament of Roses in the morning followed by Pork and Sauerkraut for supper.
Well, nowadays I’m the dad and we have a little tradition of our own. My sons’ Boy Scout Troop 624 holds an annual Pork and Sauerkraut dinner at Schuylkill Lodge 138 in Orwigsburg, PA. Every member of the troop shares KP duty serving up the holiday fare. It’s a wonderful time to get in touch with the community and share some fellowship with the troop families.
So, why Pork and Sauerkraut? Well, tradition holds that pork is lucky because pigs root forward rather than backwards like chickens and turkeys. As such, pigs are considered to be symbols of progress and are indicative of the promise of a New Year. Traditionally, when cabbage was harvested and preserved at the end of October it would take about eight weeks for the fermentation of sauerkraut to complete. This made the sauerkraut available right in time for New Year’s. They added on the symbolic meaning of the shreds of cabbage. The long shreds are meant to symbolize long life. In either case, the tart sauerkraut is a wonderful flavor pairing with the fatty, salted pork.
A food tour can be a fantastic gift that keeps on giving. Food tours are where you go around the city, the state, the country or even the world sampling the cuisine from different places.
The first step in giving gifts of food related experiences starts at home. Some people of the people on your Christmas gift giving list simply love cooking. To add to their joy of cooking, you can give a gift of cooking classes. A site that lives for teaching the fine arts of cooking is Sur la table. They list classes throughout the country that your loved one can attend and enjoy. Another site that thrives on teaching the skills of producing wonderful food is Taste of Home. Find your nearest class and make a reservation as a gift.
If you search for “cooking classes” plus your ZIP Code, you may find a wonderful service like the one I have in my area who provides in-home cooking classes. Chef Gloria Luzzatto has her Glorious Gourmet PCS service in my neck of the woods. Be sure to book her early, she’s only one person and her calendar is likely to fill up quickly!
If you wanted to do it on a budget, then you could put together a picnic basket filled with a bottle of wine and a picnic set, but include a few gift cards from local restaurants that your friend or loved one enjoys or some that they haven’t been to before.
You can find inexpensive and high dollar picnic baskets online, with an array of restaurant gift cards to chains such as Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Changs, Macaroni Grill, and dozens more.
You could put together a breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert gift that included a gift card to a place that serves breakfast like Cracker Barrel, include a Subway Sandwich gift card for a quick lunch, put an Outback Steak House gift card in for dinner and top it off with a dessert gift card to the Cheesecake Factory!
Your loved one could make it a full day doing a food tour, or break it up into separate food events.
Now you can also make this an amazing, high end gift! How about buying a new piece of luggage and filling it with some travel items, along with the menu from the local cuisine stops of another area that you’ll drive or fly to? Maybe throw in a couple of airline tickets to an exotic getaway! Other high end options are touring local or regional wineries and taking a dinner cruise on a nearby river or coastline.
Wine and cheese pairings make wonderful Christmas gifts for friends, family and acquaintances. You definitely want to make sure that the recipient drinks wine, because not everyone enjoys an alcoholic beverage. But if they do, there are some fantastic choices for you to send them.
One of the premiere brands to consider in this realm is Wine.com – and those selections can even be ordered on Amazon, too – where many of them have free Super Saver shipping.
Then there’s the Raspberry Chocolate Wine Gift Set by Westport Winery which includes a bottle of their raspberry chocolate dessert wine “Red Sky at Night”, a pair of Westport Winery cordial glasses and box of five raspberry velvet chocolate truffles.
A mouth-watering option is the medium sized Savory Sophisticated Gourmet Food Basket with Caviar by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets with Fine Black Capelin Caviar and a variety of crackers, cookies, pretzels, nuts, dips and sauces in a simple, willow basket adorned with ivy vines.
The Italian Classic Gift Basket by igourmet contains a stunning array of cheeses, olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and more items produced in Italy that are attractively packaged in a dark stained wood planter. This gift basket contains cheeses that would pair well with some of your favorite wines.
A wonderful package of Christmas themed wines is the Season’s Greetings Christmas Wines Mixed Pack. It’s a festive collection of Moscato, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, White Zinfandel and Riesling wines that would pair well with a number of the gift baskets mentioned here.
For instance, a lovely gift basket that would pair nicely with the seasonal wine collection above is the Well Stocked Gourmet Basket with Smoked Salmon by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets. It is a generous and impressive helping of the good life with an oval willow basket filled with everyone’s favorite gourmet chocolates, confections, and sophisticated snacks.
With a classic assortment of savory snacks and sweet holiday treats, there will be something for everyone as friends and family gather around to enjoy in the Holiday Greetings Christmas Gourmet Food Gift Basket by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets. There are a variety of sweet and savory items assembled in a red and gold stamped tin basket to delight that special someone on your gift giving list.
The North Coast Tasting Flight Wine Mixed Pack from the William Hill Estate Winery provides a Red Blend, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Valley Chardonnay, a North Coast Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc to please the palate of friends and family.
The Happy Holidays gift basket by Wine Country Gift Baskets is a wonderful treat to pair with your favorite wine. With festive favorites like Walkers shortbread Scottie Dogs, peppermint candy, butterscotch, milk and dark chocolate, hot cocoa and more, it’s sure to please the most discerning connoisseurs on your shopping list.
Finally, the Let It Snow gift box by the Seattle Gift Basket Company is fun and festive. It contains cashews, sausage, a Chocolate Espresso Bar, dark chocolate blueberries, Lindt Truffles and something that my family and I enjoy in lieu of champagne for special events, Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. If you want something that seems like champagne but that you can share with the kids for a holiday toast, Martinelli’s provides a variety of sparkling fruit juices to fit the bill.
Candy is one of the sweetest gifts to give your special friends and family at Christmas! You have options all year long, but there are some unique selections you may want to choose as gifts this year.
Candy Crate offers retro gift boxes of candy from various decades. You can get a gift box of candy from every decade dating back to the 1940s as well as vintage candies from the 1800’s and 1900’s. This generally makes a great birthday gift, but it’s perfect for Christmas, too.
All of the gift boxes differ according to what was popular during that decade. For instance, the 1940s gift box will include candies like bubble gum cigars, Slo Pokes, taffy, candy cigarettes, Sugar Daddies and much more. The 1980s gift box would feature candies popular then, such as Jolly Ranchers, wax fangs, Fruit Stripe gum and more.
Candy Crate even has some Christmas-themed gifts you can consider, like the Nutcracker Tower Candy Gift Box that’s filled to the rim with classic candies like candy canes, coal candy, peppermint puffs and more.
Ferrero Rocher is a popular Christmas candy you probably see featured in stores you frequent during the holidays. Each piece of candy is carefully wrapped in a gold foil, making the appearance of the gift as striking as the taste!
Or, you might order another Art of Appreciation gift – the Sweet Sentiments Cookie, Candy and Snacks Gift Tower. This is a gorgeous set of gift boxes designed with red and gold details. The boxes are packed with luscious sweets like toffee, chocolate truffles, shortbread cookies and bonbons. The decorative boxes are well worth keeping for reuse.
Broadway Basketeers makes a sweet treat that’s perfect to give as a gift – the Celebration Gift Tower with Sweets & Nuts. These boxes are also very ornate and they’re stuffed with taffy, toffee peanuts, caramel cookies (salted), and traditional chocolate chip cookies.
Before you buy a candy gift for someone on Christmas, please be sure they don’t have any specific food allergies, like peanuts or tree nuts. And if they have special dietary needs like gluten free or sugar free versions, you can find gift baskets that cater to their needs!
Meat and cheese gift baskets are a great food gift to give during the holidays. They’re perfect appetizers for entertaining, so hosts and hostesses appreciate the thoughtful gift. There are many brands and variations of the gifts to choose from. Having snacks of this sort handy is a real benefit when family and friends drop by for a spontaneous holiday visit.
The Hickory Farms company is well-known for its delicious summer sausage, but they have so much more to offer, and their brand is synonymous with gift giving around the Christmas season. The company even offers free shipping to the military – a very patriotic act by this company! In addition to sausages and cheese blocks, they also sell signature nut gifts and fresh fruit, too.
The Swiss Colony company is a household name, just like Hickory Farms. They are known for their sausage and cheese blocks, but there’s one gift box in particular that’s always a hit. It’s the Swiss Colony Sausages ‘n Cheese Bars, which comes in 4, 6 or 8-piece options.
You can get their 4-piece pack, which includes Kreme Kaese and cheddar cheese, and their original and summer sausages. The 6-piece Swiss Colony gift box includes the previous four items, but you get to add in some Colby cheese and a garlic beef sausage for your gift recipient. And the 8-piece pack gives you all previous selections, along with a Caraway beef sausage log and Swiss and Edam cheeses.
Other brands have some amazing offers, too. A company called Wisconsinmade makes a tantalizing food gift basket called the Deluxe Meat and Cheese Gift Box. It includes beef summer sausage and salami, a variety of cheeses in the flavors of tomato basil cheddar, cranberry cheddar, and roasted garlic. It comes with a cheddar cheese spread and a few mustard options, including stone ground, sweet and hot, champagne, and honey. A box of wafer rolls completes the gift basket.
Check out the Art of Appreciation Gift Basket called Smoked Salmon and Seafood Gourmet Gift Box. It has a fishing themed container, so it would make a great gift for a special man in your life. It includes salmon fillets, an herb pate, smoked salmon pate, cheese straws, and a variety of crisp crackers for the recipient.
Another excellent gift option for the meat lovers in your life is one of the many selections from Omaha Steaks. A marvelous sampler is their Family Value Pack which includes top sirloins, roasted chicken breasts, burgers, jumbo franks and stuffed baked potatoes. As a chaser, you can also get the Assorted Individual Cheesecakes to keep the holidays sweet.
The holidays always bring savory images of the sausages and cheese logs offered by vendors like Swiss Colony and Hickory Farms. These seasonal treats are a great way to entertain guests or to enable your loved ones to entertain their guests when they receive these packages and baskets from you.
At Christmastime, a lot of us take for granted that cookies, pies and cakes are going to be on the menu for the duration. Unfortunately, not all of us are
in a position to enjoy the traditional treats that so many of us enjoy, but as the angels say “Fear Not” because there are fun alternatives for those with special dietary concerns.
Do you have a loved one or special friend on your Christmas list who is on a Gluten free diet? There are many people going on this now, even though it was originally used as a treatment for Celiac Disease. Now, people are using it as a way to treat autism, to lose weight, and to ease digestive discomfort.
Luckily, there are many gluten-free food gifts you can buy online. The Gifting Group makes a Gluten Free Gourmet Festive Twig Gift Basket with Cheese Knife that’s packed with olive oil sea salt crackers, cashews, olives, Busseto salami and Napa Valley Whole Grain Mustard – all free of gluten for that special someone in your life!
Then there’s the Holiday Delight Gluten Free Gift Tower by Gluten Free Palace. This gift includes chocolate chip biscotti, raspberry linzer cookies, black and white cookies, packages of dried fruit, pocorners and jelly bellies that are not only gluten free but are also certified kosher!
Know someone who has a sweet tooth but can’t eat gluten? Try the Gluten Free Cookies Gallon by Apple Cookie & Chocolate Company. This gift is a 1-gallon can filled with delicious fresh baked gluten free chocolate chip cookies. When the mini crunchy cookies are gone the can turns into a coin bank.
Another idea is to make a gift basket on your own! You can find lots of gluten free baking items online or in local grocery stores, and package them into a basket that you buy at an arts and crafts store.
The holidays can be hard on those who are on a strict sugar-free diet. Whether they’re diabetic or just giving up sugar for some other reason, you can give a Christmas gift that satisfies their sweet tooth.
The Gift Basket Dropshipping company makes the Simply Sugar Free Gift Basket, which includes sugar free chocolates, jelly beans, fruit candies, and a variety of snacks like crackers, pretzel sticks, cheese dip, popcorn, and coffee – all in a lovely wicker basket.
In many homes around the world, hot tea is the drink of choice while in the American South, sweet, ice-cold tea is a staple. Whether hot or cold, tea makes a great gift at Christmas for friends, family, co-workers or neighbors.
There are many tea gifts you can give to someone, but a few are really impressive. Take the Numi Organic Tea Flowering Gift Set, for example. It comes in a handcrafted Mahogany bamboo chest filled with teas just as organic green tea, Osmanthus flower, organic oolong, Jasmine and more.
The initial presentation to your recipient is impressive enough, but inside there is a glass teapot with six flowering tea blossoms that bloom inside the pot when you pour the water over the tea to steep it. And each flower can be steeped 3 times before it’s finished.
The Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets company makes some wonderful tea gift sets for those on your Christmas gift list. Try the Tea Time Treasures Tea Pot Shaped Gift Bag Tote set, which has Enlight-Tea-Ments English Breakfast Tea, Enlight-Tea-Ments Apricot Medley Tea, Longevity Chai Tea Mix, Joy Chai Tea Mix, Peace Chai Tea Mix, Petals Ice Tea Drink Mix, A single sample of premium Ashby’s Tea in Raspberry, Lemon and Green Tea. Along with the varieties of tea, the gift includes Mrs. Grace Lemon Tea Cookies, Too Good Gourmet Raspberry Tea Cookies and a chocolate dipped Silk Crunch Cookie.
The same company makes the Tea Lovers Care Package Gift Box, which is presented in an adorable tea box tied with a satin bow. Inside, your gift recipient will receive breakfast tea and mixes, along with a big selection of treats like cookies, flavored honey sticks, bonbons, and more.
The WISSOTZKY Magic Tea Box is an 80-piece tea set that makes a great gift. You get black tea, fruit tea, and herbal tea. There are eight total flavors inside the beautiful tea box.
They also make a Victorian Lace Gourmet Food and Spa Gift Basket Set with Clock, which includes tea and a whole lot more – and it’s all packaged in an antique looking wooden chest that has a clock in it. The chest has English Roses painted by hand on it, and inside is a spa delight – bath gel, body lotion, body butter, body scrub, candles, notepad, cookies, picture frame and tea.
Want to go all out for someone really special in your life who loves tea? Sign them up on your dime for a Teavana tea of the Month Club. They have the Connoisseurs Club, White Tea Club, Green Tea Club, Black Tea Club, and Herbal Tea Club – where your gift recipient will get a new set of tea each month for a whole year! This is a gift for a very sophisticated tea drinker.
Of course, the best thing you can give is some of your own time. Go have a cup of tea with your special someone and celebrate the holidays together.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? I know I do! There are so many chocolate gift sets you can choose from – some with nothing but chocolate, and others with a variety of items in the set.
For the refined pallet of a chocolate connoisseur, you’ll want to order the Leonidas Belgian Chocolates. If your loved one enjoys chocolate, they’ll be opened up to a new world of taste once they have these. You can get them truffles, pralines, and butter creams with many flavors – like Antoinette, which tastes like a smooth Brandy, or Eve, a milk chocolate blend with banana filling.
Harry & David Truffles are one of their signature items. You can buy the milk chocolate version or one that pairs their truffle line with their Moose Munch snack candy and chocolate covered blueberries. They have other candy items you can select for gifts as well.
One of the most popular (and more affordable) options for your chocolate loving friends and family is the Chocolate Sampler Gift Basket by ig4U. This cute woven bamboo basket is filled with treats like peanut butter cups, marshmallows, chocolate covered nuts, truffles, cookies and milk or dark chocolate pieces.
You can find a myriad of other chocolate gift baskets at all sizes and price ranges. Some of the sets are a little more unique than others. The Anthon Berg Chocolate Liqueur Bottles Gift Box is one such item. If you know someone on your list who enjoys liquor and chocolate, then consider this gift. The box comes with sixteen chocolates filled with certain liquors, including Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Jack Daniels, Drambuie, Southern Comfort, Cutty Sark, Ricard, Jim Beam, Sauza, Stolichnaya, and Beefeater.
If you have any Oprah Winfrey fans on your list, or just someone who enjoys hot chocolate around the Christmas season, then consider getting them the Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate Party Box. She featured this on her Favorite Things episode, and it’s been a bestseller ever since. It comes with 18 ounces of their secret hot chocolate mix, two huge goblets to drink from, and the secret to making their perfect cup of hot chocolate.
At Christmastime or virtually any other time of the year, most everyone loves to receive the gift of coffee. Some have their favorite brands and flavors they stick with, yet others are adventurous and willing to taste a variety of options.
You can either give someone a gift of coffee itself, or pair it with a coffee machine – from one-cup units to French press choices – there are many on the market. Coffee is a wonderful gift for family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
How about a premiere, elegant coffee gift basket? The Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets Coffee Connoisseur Gourmet Food Gift Basket is a delightful, high-end gift for that special someone on your list. In addition to the delicious coffee flavors they include, such as Columbian, Butterscotch and Jamocha Almond Fudge, you’re also giving an array of chocolate sweet treats like Java Bon Cappuccino candy, Chocolate Espresso Cups, and more.
One unique coffee gift idea is the Coffee Sampler Gift Basket by ig4U has a four-piece worldwide coffee selection, and includes coffee trimmings like raw sugar, stirrers, creamer, mug and sweets. It’s presented in a basket made of bamboo with a beautiful ribbon.
Do a bit of research on which kind of coffee your Christmas list members might enjoy most. Do they prefer premium coffee, espresso, or cappuccino? Do they already have a coffee maker or would you like to get them one? Coffee is a marvelous year-round gift, but it’s particularly appreciated during the chilly winter months, when a cup of coffee from you will warm their bodies and their hearts.
So, “Christmas in July” occurred this week. Not everybody is into it. Whether you celebrate it or not, here are some awesome Christmas themed beverages to help you cool down during the Dog Days of Summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.
1 cup Vanilla Ice Cream
1/3 cup Eggnog
Shot of brandy, rum or whiskey (optional)
Combine ingredients in a blender, and mix until blended. Top with a dash of Nutmeg.
If you can’t find eggnog this time of year you can always make your own:
4 cups milk
4 cups heavy cream
12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 whole cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla extract, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon and place over a low flame. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly to keep from scorching. Combine eggs yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk together. Slowly pour some of the hot milk into the bowl to temper the egg yolks. Then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Stir constantly for about four minutes until the mixture thickens, but do not bring it to a boil. Strain out the cloves and let stand until cooled. Stir in the heavy cream.
As a Christmas in July drink, Peppermint Hot Chocolate may be a bit counterintuitive. With a slight tweak, we can make the beverage a bit more summer-friendly. Prepare the cocoa as described in Martha’s recipe adding a few drops of blue food coloring to render a deep blue beverage. Shatter a peppermint stick to create stars that you can sprinkle across the surface of the drinks and then add two peppermint sticks to each cup. Once prepared, chill the cocoa in your refrigerator. This will create an American flag themed cool cocoa treat that you can serve proudly for Christmas in July.
What attracted me to the Black Currant Cider Sparklers is that it gives me a chance to use one of our favorite celebratory beverages. My family loves Martinelli’s Gold Medal Sparkling Cider as a non-alcoholic alternative to champagne for celebrations such as New Year’s toasts, birthday parties and classing up the table for Thanksgiving Dinner. Adding a bit of black currant juice to an already beloved beverage reminds me of my mom’s famous Thimble Cookies. My extended family always enjoyed looking forward to my Mom’s mountain of Christmas Cookies and in particular the Thimble Cookies!
Of course, with all of these cool summertime holiday themed drinks it’s only fair we get some Christmas in July cookies. To this end, Charlene at My Frugal Adventures has a whimsical Christmas In July cookie idea. Melting Snowman Cookies are a comical notion for a mid-summer Christmas celebration and a great way to enjoy a bite of the holidays with your Christmas in July beverages