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Archive for December, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Send A Digital Food Gift Certificate

The digital gift certificate is followed by a
snail mail version, with olive oil! Photo
courtesy Nudo.

 

It’s the 11th hour and you still need a special gift?

We’ve got the solution: an email gift certificate that will arrive the same day. There’s no need to scramble—or even leave your house. Most online merchants have a gift certificate that will be sent within 12 hours.

We’ve got two special recommendations that range from as little as $5.00 to $500.00.

Gift Certificate #1: Olive Oil & A Tree

Here’s gift that’s sustainable, green and healthy. Everyone can use fine olive oil.

Nudo, a family-run cooperative of 12 artisanal olive oil producers in Le Marche,* Italy, offers a delightful idea: an Adopt-An-Olive Tree gift certificate, complete with delicious olive oil. Here’s what’s included:

 

  • A personalized adoption certificate and information booklet that describes the tree that has been adopted in the name of the gift recipient.
  • Three 250ml tins of flavored extra virgin olive oil (chili, lemon and orange) from the current fall harvest.
  • Four 500ml tins of first cold press extra virgin olive oil, to be sent following the upcoming spring harvest.
  • An open invitation to come and visit, hug and/or water the tree in person.
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    The entire adoption program costs $109.00, plus shipping. It’s not inexpensive, but it is memorable! You may not be able to afford a villa in Tuscany, but you can own a little piece of the Italian countryside.

    A digital gift certificate will be mailed within 12 hours, and a paper version will arrive with the first oil shipment. Order your gift certificate.

    *Pronounced leh-MAR-keh. One of Italy’s 20 regions, it lies on the Adriatic coast, immediately south of Emiglia-Romana and west of Tuscany.

      

    Gift Certificate #2: Customized Chocolate Bars

    For $5.00 to $500.00, you can send a chocolate bar gift certificate that allows the recipient to customize his/her own chocolate bars. It’s chocolate perfection!

    Just a few toppings you can add to the dark, milk or white Belgian chocolate bars:

  • Chips of any color: butterscotch, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter.
  • M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, toffee bits and other favorites.
  • Every type of nut, toasted pumpkin seeds and other seeds.
  • Candy corn, gummi bears, jelly beans, Sour Patch Kids—the works.
  • Cookie dough, Junior Mints, Kit Kat pieces, marshmallows and Oreos.
  • Every type of dried fruit.
  • Herbs and spices, from lavender to chipotle and curry.
  • The excitement of creating your own bars is part of the fun of this gift. Visit Chocomize.com. See our review of Chocomize bars.

     

    Add anything you want to create your ideal
    chocolate bar. Photo by Katharine Pollak |
    THE NIBBLE.

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    RECIPE: Make “Christmas Quesadillas”

    With the kids home through the New Year, here’s a way to keep the holiday spirit going for lunch or dinner:

    Christmas quesadillas!

    The idea comes from Red’s All Natural, makers of burritos and quesadillas.

    Keep a box of the quesadillas in the freezer. Then, heat them (the microwave works fine) and top with green guacamole and red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved.

    If you don’t have guacamole, try fresh green herbs, spinach or other greens, or for a fusion dish, pesto. For the cherry tomatoes, you can substitute sundried tomatoes, red bell peppers or sliced roasted peppers (pimentos).

     

    Deck the halls with quesadillas! Photo
    courtesy Red’s All Natural.

     

    Red’s All Natural quesadillas are crafted with antibiotic and hormone-free meats, fresh veggies, beans and spices. The four flavors include bean and cheese, buffalo chicken, pulled pork and steak. Learn more at RedsAllNatural.com.

    Feliz Navidad!

      

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    VIDEO: How To Open A Bottle Of Champagne

     

    If you don’t know how to open a bottle of Champagne, it can seem daunting. But it’s really quite simple:

  • Remove the foil and the metal cage that cover the cork.
  • Hold the cork with one hand. With your other hand, gently turn the bottle. You’ll hear a gentle pop. And that’s it!
  •  
    Just watch this video. You’ll also see the correct way to pour Champagne.

    Do you know the different types of Champagne?

       

       

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    TIP OF THE DAY & GIFT OF THE DAY: Fill Up A Gift Tin

    Find a handsome tin and fill it with
    something delicious! Photo courtesy
    Teavana.com.

     

    Still scrambling for holiday gifts?

    An easy way to treat people of all ages is with a gift tin filled with something delicious. We like Lindt’s Lindor Truffles or miniature cookies, but anything the recipient might like will be appreciated.

    You can purchase cookies, chocolate and tea in tins, but they’re covered with the manufacturer’s branding. For a tin that can be used anywhere—bathroom, bedroom, home office, kitchen—look for something special.

    For people who drink coffee and tea (or amaretto), try a tin of Lazzaroni Amaretti—small Italian almond cookies with universal appeal. The “manufacturer’s branding” comment doesn’t apply here because the design is so classy. We love the bright orange tins and have repurposed them in just about every room!

     

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Cuisinart Extreme Thermal Coffeemaker

    Here’s the gift we bought for THE NIBBLE’s kitchen: the Cuisinart Extreme Thermal Coffeemaker.

    We had a perfectly fine coffeemaker with a glass carafe. We made a full carafe each day, so our small team could enjoy coffee throughout the morning.

    The only problem: Not everyone wanted coffee at the same time. After 15 or 20 minutes, coffee begins to scorch on the coffeemaker’s hot plate. So we’d turn off the machine; then warm the lukewarm coffee in the microwave, as needed. (Coffee connoisseurs may cringe at this thought, but a 20-30-second nuke works without harming the coffee.)

    At our holiday party, we passed the glass carafe unit on to a NIBBLE staffer and unveiled this Cuisinart Extreme Brew 10-cup Thermal Carafe CoffeeMaker.

    We’re happy with it. But we looked at some unhappy reviewer comments on Amazon.com and would like to address them, following our first week of experience with the unit:

     

    Our holiday gift to us: a Cuisinart thermal
    carafe coffeemaker for home or office.
    Photo courtesy Cuisinart.

     

  • Water Level. Two Amazon reviewers write that the reservoir and/or carafe doesn’t hold enough water for a 10-cup pot. That’s true if you use eight-ounce cups of water as the measure. However, the industry standard in coffee makers is a five-ounce cup. While this may sound strange to Americans, it’s a worldwide standard; Large mugs and oversized cups are not the norm elsewhere. So five ounces of coffee accommodates the standard eight-ounce cup (the size that comes with a set of dishes), plus room for milk and an inch at the top to avoid spillage.
  • Silver. In terms of “the silver looks cheap, not like our old Cuisinart which looked like stainless steel”: Alas, this is what has happened in the industry to keep prices down. Unless you’re paying double and triple for a top-of-the-line appliance, don’t expect the stainless steel. We recently needed to replace our 80s-era solid-metal Electrolux vacuum cleaner. The new one, made by the company that acquired Electrolux, is almost entirely plastic—and it cost nearly $1,000! We still keep a 25-year-old GE solid-stainless steel toaster oven that no longer works, as a souvenir of how beautiful appliance construction once was.
  • Pouring. We agree that the thermal carafe isn’t as precise a pour as a thin-lipped glass carafe. That’s a function of the thicker thermal casing. We were able to adapt to the new spout pretty quickly, and we don’t spill any coffee.
  • Hotness. We have thermal carafes—the kind used to carry coffee to work—that are champions, keeping the coffee hot for up to four hours (our favorites are from Nissan). Coffeemaker thermal carafes (we’ve tried three different brands) tend to work for half that time. Yet, it’s plenty of time for us to consume the full pot of coffee.
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    Trading up to a thermal carafe, we feel we’ve gained much more than just a good-looking appliance:

  • Transportability. Having a pot that can be transported anywhere and set down on any surface—dining table, home office desk, garage; or at the workplace, to conference room and offices.
  • Freshness. The thermal carafe keeps the coffee fresh for a reasonable amount of time. Even if it’s only an hour, that’s better than scorching on the hot plate after 15 minutes!
  • Control. We love the brew strength control that our older unit lacked.
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    TIP: Don’t Want To Buy A New Coffeemaker?

    If you’ve got a thermos, just pour the coffee into it after you’ve had your first serving,

    As with a coffee maker carafe, you need to use a bottle brush and soap to clean the thermos with every few uses, or bitter coffee oils build up.

    Learn more about the Cuisinart Extreme Brew Thermal Coffeemaker

      

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