11 Savvy Gifts for the Foodie

iStock
iStock

Whether it’s the friend who makes you wait in two-hour brunch lines or the uncle who starts planning Thanksgiving in August, you likely have at least one foodie in your life. This holiday season, indulge their gastronomic side with one of these delectable gifts.

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1. Short Stack Editions

Cover of cookbook.
Amazon

Entering the kitchen can be daunting, even with a well-written book of recipes at your side. The Short Stack series of cookbooks keeps things simple. Each slim volume focuses on a single ingredient and contains 20 to 25 relevant recipes written by a different culinary professional. Butter, avocados, chocolate, and tahini are just a few of the featured themes. And when the books are not being used to whip up recipes, the colorful, textured paper covers make them lovely to look at.

Find It: Amazon for $14 and up and at these other retailers:

2. Horseshoe Brand Hot Sauces and Barbecue Sauces Six-pack

Row of hot sauces.
Horseshoe Brand

Horseshoe Brand sells 11 varieties of small-batch hot sauce and barbecue sauce. If you can’t pick just one bottle for the condiment-lover in your life, the Hudson Valley, New York-based company offers a six-pack. Mix and match to create the perfect set of sauces from their line, which includes roasted garlic, kiwi jalapeño, and hot barbecue sauce.

Find It: Horseshoe Brand for $30

3. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat By Samin Nosrat

Cover of cookbook.
Amazon

Forget specialized kitchen gadgets and artisanal ingredients. The key to most good meals, cookbook author Samin Nosrat claims, comes down to just four components: salt, fat, acid, and heat. In the author's beloved book (which even inspired a Netflix series), she reduces over 100 basic recipes to these elements. With Nosrat’s sharp insights and Wendy MacNaughton’s playful illustrations as a guide, the readers of this book will develop essential cooking instincts.

Find It: Amazon for $21

4. Very Veggie Spice Collection

veggie spice blend collection
Uncommon Goods

Save your vegetarian loved one the labor of finding the perfect spices to pair with their meat-free dishes. This set includes seven sweet-and-savory blends—Manchego & roasted garlic, chipotle parmesan, chili lime, Asian curry and honey, balsamic and roasted onion, and parmesan mediterranean—which have been slow-dried and then quickly ground and jarred to preserve flavor. One taste of the seasonings will ruin the supermarket stuff for good.

Find It: Uncommon Goods for $26

5. MOLECULE-R CUISINE R-EVOLUTION KIT

Box of cooking supplies.
Amazon

Molecular gastronomy isn’t limited to Michelin-starred chefs working out of space-aged kitchens. With this kit, anyone can create futuristic dishes from their kitchen at home. The package contains pipettes, food additives, tubes, a mold, spoons, and a syringe. A DVD walks home chefs through 50 impressive recipes, making dishes like mint caviar beads, chocolate spaghetti, and tzatziki spheres as approachable as they are tasty.

Find It: Amazon for $43 and at these other retailers:

6. Balsamic Vinegar Of ModenA

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Food52

It’s easy enough to find basic balsamic vinegar at your local supermarket, but if you want to find something that goes beyond the basic stuff, you’ll have to search harder. All bottles of this product come from a real vinegar house in Modena, Italy, a.k.a. the balsamic vinegar capital of the world. Its authenticity comes through in the flavor. With no additives or caramels muddying the taste, every drop is pure, concentrated balsamic.

Find It:

7. Chefsteps Joule Sous Vide

Food cooking in a pot.
Amazon

Flavorful fish and perfectly-cooked steaks are just a quick sous-vide away from the dining room table. If you know someone who would geek out over an immersion circulator, this is the one to get them. It stands less than a foot tall and weighs 1.3 pounds, making it half the size of similar products. And unlike traditional sous vide tools, this one connects to smart devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The app relays updates on the food as it cooks. Dinner has never been so hard to screw up.

Find It: Amazon for $199 and at these other retailers:

8. Pizza Rescue Kit

Vials of spices next to a box.
Uncommon Goods

In a perfect world, every slice of pizza would leave you wanting more. But unfortunately, there’s no shortage of mediocre pies out there. That’s why a group of New York pizza aficionados created the Pizza Rescue Kit. The three vials contain black truffle salt, aleppo pepper, and an Italian herb blend. Pizza lovers can sprinkle the seasonings on frozen pizza or $1 parlor slices to elevate them to gourmet status.

Find It: Uncommon Goods for $15

9. Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box; 1 Month For $25

Vinyl disc and food recipe.
Turntable Kitchen

This gift is for the person in your life who treats food like a cultural experience. Each monthly box of this subscription contains two parts: a recipe and curated music to complement it. Home cooks can drop the 7-inch vinyl onto their turntable and listen to new music from artists like Basecamp and Cathedrals while they cook. Once that track is over, they can transition to the digital mix tape that comes with the subscription. The food portion of the gift includes three seasonal recipes, one or two premium ingredients, and tasting notes.

Find It: Turntable Kitchen

10. SHERRY B CUSTOM ICE CREAM CAKE SANDWICHES SIX-PACK

Ice cream sandwiches.
Goldbely

Ice cream cakes are usually reserved for special occasions; this six-pack of ice cream cake sandwiches from Sherry B Dessert Studio makes it easy to enjoy the treat anytime and anywhere. Choose six flavors from options like birthday cake, purple velvet, Fluffernutter, and Blackout ice cream. The treats weigh nearly half a pound, so hopefully you can convince the giftee to share.

Find It: Goldbelly for $99

11. Antidote Dark Chocolate Bars Six-Pack

Gourmet chocolate bars.
Amazon

These gourmet chocolate bars are flavored with exotic ingredients like cardamom, mango, and cayenne. But in each variety, the cocoa takes the starring role. Antidote chocolate is made with Arriba Nacional beans from Ecuador that have been slow-roasted to create a rich depth of flavor. Little to no sugar is added: Instead the chocolate is mixed with real spices and chunks of fruit.

Find It: Antidote Chocolate for $43

7 Ways to Take Advantage of the Bullet Journal Method

iStock.com/Neustockimages
iStock.com/Neustockimages

If you haven't heard of the bullet journal, it's the productivity method du jour—one that combines the features of a planner, calendar, to-do list, diary, and more. It's not a specific product (although the founder of the method, Ryder Carroll, has created a special notebook for it) as much as a way of creating a journaling system that works for you.

Proponents say the method helps you focus your time and your goals, in part through periodic "migration" sessions that force you to review how you've been spending your days. And yes, it's popular on Instagram—because many bullet journalers have filled their notebooks with colorful flair. (But that part is entirely optional.)

While core components of the bullet journal system like monthly spreads and daily logs are great, many bullet journalers like to add other features that fit their own life. After all, the beauty of the method is the customization and flexibility. We've rounded up a few ideas for new and not-so-new bullet journalers alike to try.

1. Track—and fuel—your creative projects.

Let's say that, like most people, you have a day job. But at night, you're writing the next Great American Novel—or at least some short stories. You might get an idea related to one of those projects on your morning commute or while taking a walk in the park at lunch. There's no time to pull out the manuscript, and if you email yourself the idea it might get lost in a jumble of newsletters and other alerts.

Instead, just start a new page for the project in your journal, note it in your index, and scribble away. You can come back to it later, and fill in other, non-sequential pages in the journal as the mood strikes. Your journal probably isn't the best place to write whole stories, but it's perfect if you just had a mini-breakthrough you want to take down, or even as a way to keep track of potential prompts and inspiration.

2. Improve your habits.

Habit trackers are some of the most popular add-ons to the regular bullet journal time-oriented spreads. You can make yours cute—tracking the number of glasses of water you drink a day by coloring in a big glass, say—or more minimalist, perhaps by listing the habits you want to build (yoga, waking up early) on the left next to a chart of days and coloring in the days you manage to do the habit. You can also create a page just to log you often you do one particular thing—drinking alcohol, for example. Some people even use their bullet journals to track food and digestive symptoms, either by creating a section for a food journal or just noting in their daily log when they eat a certain food and how it makes them feel.

3. Save money.

You can create a custom spread for your monthly budget, track all your expenses, or just track your purchases in a particular category (say, eating out) if there's a particular type of spending you're trying to curb. The design can be as crafty as you like—whether you're coloring in bricks that represent each $50 saved toward a house or just filling in columns noting every time you make a purchase. The key is that, as with health habits, writing something down can serve as a powerful motivator and/or deterrent, since you know you'll have to come face-to-face with yourself at the end of the month.

4. Plan your meals.

Nothing combines health and finance goals quite like planning your meals. You can make your meal plan a section of your weekly spread: Carroll, the bullet journal's creator, likes to set up a list of meals on the left page of his notebook and a shopping list of ingredients on the right. Dividing the items by categories (like meat, produce, and pantry staples) can speed things up at the store, too. It's great to do this at home so you can check the fridge and see what you're missing. Then, when you're done shopping, note how much you spent at the bottom of the list. You can track that to develop insights about your grocery budget.

Over time, you can also create lists to help you with meal planning, perhaps "Favorite Weeknight Dinners," "Easy Work Lunches," etc. Some people also like to create a master grocery list of frequently bought items they can consult whenever they're at the store, just in case they forget to write staples down on their weekly shopping list.

5. Remember the good things.

In our flurry of to-do lists, project deadlines, and meal plans, it can be easy to forget about the things that brighten our days, whether it's an especially funny joke from a colleague or a milestone in a child's development. Create a "memories" page (don't forget to log it in your index!) where you record the great stuff that happens, and pull it out to reflect whenever you're having a gray day. Some bullet journalers like to put pages like this toward the back of their journals to separate them out from the time-oriented spreads. A memories page is also a great opportunity to bust out some thematic artwork.

6. Track your reading lists.

Another great way to encourage better habits is through a reading log. Like a memory log, many people like to put this toward the back of their journal, although ultimately the placement is totally up to you. You can keep track of all the books you read this year, perhaps with notes on what you thought of them—a definite resource when you're drawing up those year-end best-of lists to share with other reading pals!

7. Pair it with an app.

While the bullet journal is touted as "the analog method for the digital age," most of us don't want to go full-on analog. There's now an official companion app that will help you organize and search your old bullet journals, help you learn the method, offer prompts, and serve as a log for when you're away from your journal. It's designed as an addition to the journal, not a replacement, so you still need to put in that time with pen (or pencil, or watercolor brush) and paper.

Bullet journals also pair well with apps like Evernote—for example, you can use Evernote on your smartphone to snap photos of text you scrawl down to save digitally for later use. (Maybe those on-the-fly notes on your novel go into an Evernote notebook that you consult when you have a bit more time, for example.) That's a good option for longer-term projects that might span a couple notebooks.

Many people also use both bullet journals and an online calendar, using the latter for fixed events like birthdays and doctors appointments and the former as more of a way to time-block the day and focus on goals. After all, the beauty of the bullet journal is that unlike digital space, the paper in your notebook is finite—which helps you realize that so is your time and energy. That makes it easier to plan accordingly.

This Ingenious Hanger Makes Hanging Pants a Breeze, No Clips or Folds Required

Hurdle Hanger
Hurdle Hanger

Get ready to clean out your closet. No, we don’t mean going all Marie Kondo on your clothes. There’s a new type of clothes hanger that promises to change the way you store your clothes, taking the headache out of hanging up your pants.

The Hurdle Hanger, which has currently raised more than $33,000 on Kickstarter, calls itself the “one-second pants hanger.” Rather than relying on cumbersome clips or requiring bulky folding techniques, the hanger design employs one very simple change: It hooks into the belt loops of your pants.

The angular hanger is open on one side so that you can slide the bar through the belt loops of your pants, letting you secure your pants in one smooth motion rather than struggling with the pant clips that will just wrinkle your waistband anyway.

A person slides the Hurdle Hanger through the belt loops of a pants to hang them.
Hurdle Hanger

Just slide the hanger bar through the belt loop (or loops) farthest from you, then hang the belt loop closest to you from the hook. There is another hook midway across the bar that secures the middle belt loop, keeping your pants from drooping while they hang. In another subtle touch, you can use the same hook to hang smaller items, like belts or hats, off the side.

The Hurdle Hanger is an example of smart design at its finest—the kind of idea that, when you see it in action, makes you think, “Wait, how did no one think of this before?” It takes a once-cumbersome task and makes it seamless, eliminating at least some of the burden that may be keeping you from accomplishing the chore of hanging up your clothes. No more messing with clips or trying to shove pants through the cramped hole in the hanger to fold them over.

There are already open-end pants hangers that make it easier to slide a folded pair of slacks into your closet, but the belt loop hooks take the Hurdle Hanger to another level. You might even get inspired enough to start hanging your jeans.

A 10-pack of hangers is $20 on Kickstarter—though anything that makes you actively excited to organize your closet is priceless.

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