It’s a busy, bustling world out there, especially this time of year. So busy in fact that it makes me want to pack a bag and escape to a quiet cabin in the woods. I have to practice patience for another few weeks before that wish comes true. In the meantime I’ve compiled a holiday gift guide featuring carefully selected, ethically responsible items to help you escape the bustle and do your holiday shopping with grace, ease, and style. And if you’re on a budget or feeling crafty I’ve also included several ideas for homemade gifts that are sure to please.

gift guide (1)

CURATED

1. Fog Linen navy seersucker kitchen cloths. Sigh. /// 2. Sagittario extra virgin olive oil. Hand harvested, cold pressed, vibrant. /// 3. Not Without Salt chocolate chip cookie mix. The perfect chocolate chip cookie with a rich vanilla flavor, quality dark chocolate,  and lovely packaging. /// 4. Jacobsen salt. Locally harvested on the Oregon coast, flaky, and you guessed it, salty. /// 5. A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus.  My new favorite cookbook, full of beautiful photographs and unpretentious but enlivening recipes. Try the roasted carrots and fennel with harissa and yogurt. /// 6. Hand forged blue steel french skillet. These pans may give your favorite cast iron a run for its money. Made in Seattle. /// 7. Waxed canvas tote. The sexiest grocery bag around with an inside  pocket, leather handles, and water repellent waxed canvas.

diy2

 HOMEMADE

{in bags + jars + bottles}

1. Sweet & spicy peanuts. /// 2. Pink peppercorn chocolate sable (recipe below). /// 3. Homemade mustard. Great for salad dressings, marinades and cheese boards. /// 4. Homemade harissa.  Amazing on roasted veggies or meat. /// 5. Vanilla extract (recipe below). /// 6. Bitters. I made grapefruit, but the possibilities are endless.

If you’re local (Seattle), come visit me on Sunday, December 7 from 12-4 at the Not Without Salt office to buy some Not Without Salt Cookie Mix and Mae James Coffee, and eat some homemade treats. These cookies will be there too…

PINK PEPPERCORN CHOCOLATE SABLE

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Makes 36 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and continue beating.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour mixture, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times.  Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough. Toss in the chocolate pieces and pink peppercorns and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it in half, and shape into two logs that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze until firm enough to slice. (The dough will keep in the freezer for several months).

Slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes (exactly, and no longer). They will still be soft.

VANILLA EXTRACT

Makes 4 ounces

INGREDIENTS

4 oz. vodka

2 vanilla beans

PROCEDURE

Fill a small bottle or jar with the vodka. Slice the vanilla beans in half length wise and place in the bottle with the vodka. Cover and let steep for several weeks until fragrant.