Gifts for the Cook

 Rolling pin and pottery pieces at
Umpqua Local Goods

I don't start thinking about Christmas until after we've polished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers and celebrated our son's birthday on December 1. However, some of our farmers markets will be closing at the end of the month and they are an absolute treasure trove of unique handmade gifts. If you've got a cook on your holiday list, I've got some hints for you. On a recent stroll through the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market I found these “ingredients” for the perfect foodie gift basket: wild dried gourmet mushrooms, embroidered dishtowels, fanciful aprons, hand-turned wooden bowls, dried herbs and spices, hazelnut toffee, chocolate truffles, pottery bowls and mugs, kitchen knives with lovely wooden handles, potholders, market bags, garlic braids, culinary lavender, cutting boards, and even a lemon tree! How easy was that? Craft fairs, art galleries, tasting rooms, and Umpqua Local Goods are other sources for one-of-a-kind gifts with local flavor. And, of course, I've got my own line of recipe note cards at

 Beautiful wooden bowls at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.

 Cutting boards and bowls at
 Umpqua Local Goods

 While it's not hand-crafted or locally made, one of my favorite kitchen tools is my Cuisinart Immersion Blender, also known as a hand blender. This “blender on a stick” gets used multiple times a day at our house for morning smoothies and post-workout protein shakes. For creamy soups, pur√©eing the cooked vegetables and broth can be done right in the pot! Best of all, it's a snap to clean under hot running water and stores conveniently in a drawer.

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