The other day I got an e-mail from my friend asking me to help him edit a note to accompany a Christmas gift. Although I did make some grammatical changes, the extraordinarily beautiful sentiment is all his.  I wanted to share it because expressions of appreciation like this are rarely said any more. He is one of the kindest people I know and it shows in every thing he does.

“Dear G and L, I have thought very hard about what might be the best gift I could give you both. Nothing tangible succeeds in even coming close to what you two mean to me. After a lot of thinking, I decided there would be nothing more apt than to strive to create hope in this world in your honor. That’s what you two to do for me as a couple. You give me hope in the strength of true compassion and hope that one can fight all the hurdles put forth in front of them with power of love for each other. You both mean a lot to me, more than my words express. I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.”

If you are not an overly sentimental person and prefer a simple gift, I have included a few food related things here from the amazon store page that will bring a smile to someone’s face each time they use it and think of you.

The world-renowned Esalen Institute, located on the sacred cliffs above the ocean in Big Sur, California, is a place of peace and beauty, a place where people can contemplate, think, and discover. At the heart of Esalen is its kitchen, where food is made daily from the organic farm on its grounds. Recipes from Moroccan Lamb Stew to Pecan-Encrusted Chicken and Sponges of Love Pancakes to Chocolate Chunk Cookies delight newcomers to Esalen and veterans alike. Many years in the making, Esalen Cookbook is finally here, and features dozens of delicious recipes that emphasize healthy, fresh, and organic ingredients, and food made to satisfy the soul as well as the stomach. Also included are tips on how to make vegetarian versions of these recipes as well. It’s a taste of the utopia of Esalen in your very own kitchen, with recipes such as Artichoke, Yam, and Blue Cheese Scones; Leek-and-Onion Tart; Greek Quiche; Esalen Granola; Sweet-and-Spicy Breakfast Polenta; Orange Essence Raisin Bread; Quinoa and Veggie Soufflé; Grandma’s German Goulash; and more! By Charlie Cascio. $24.20

The food traditions of North America’s indigenous peoples are centuries old and they endure to this day. For almost two decades, Dolly Watts and her daughter Annie have served native cuisine that is both traditional and modern; for them, Where People Feast, one of very few indigenous cookbooks available, is the culmination of a lifetime dedicated to introducing people to extraordinary foods that are truly North American. Recipes include Smoked Salmon Mousse, Indian Tacos, Venison Meatballs, Alder-Grilled Breast of Pheasant, Blackberry-Glazed Beets, Wild Rice Pancakes, and Wild Blueberry Cobbler. Includes sixteen full-color photos and 120 recipes. By Dolly Watts, Annie Watts. $18.68

Food & Philosophy offers a collection of essays which explore a range of philosophical topics related to food; it joins Wine & Philosophy and Beer & Philosophy in in the “Epicurean Trilogy.” Essays are organized thematically and written by philosophers, food writers, and professional chefs. Provides a critical reflection on what and how we eat can contribute to a robust enjoyment of gastronomic pleasures. A thoughtful, yet playful collection which emphasizes the importance of food as a proper object of philosophical reflection in its own right. From Wiley-Blackwell. $18.06

Measure and bake with glee using this set of 6 dry measuring cups made in the shapes of traditional Russian matroyshkas. The cups even nest like the Russian dolls for easy storage, and they’re easy to find in any drawer or cupboard. The 6-cup set includes 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup, and 1-cup sizes. Made with heavy-duty construction, the cups are built to use and to last. They are food safe and come in a full-color gift box. $13.95

Chemistry cocktail set. The debate is endless – is mixing the perfect drink an art or a science. Give your friends a laugh as you whip up a deadly potion with this scientific set. Measure out with the handy glass tubes and glass beaker and mix ’em up in the metallic shaker. I just keep imagining how well this would go with my vintage school-lab chemistry desk. $31.50

Designed to gurgle, this unique Wade product with its classic fish design, will be the talking point in more ways than one, every time it is put to use. Never before has adding liquid to a drink or pouring water on its own been such fun. Fully glazed, the Gluggle Jug is another example of Wade’s design abilities, production skills and manufacturing prowess which place Wade Ceramics in a league few can catch. The ever popular Gluggle Jug range has grown, with four exciting new designs; Orca the Whale, a dolphin, an alligator and a hippocamp, a mythological creature with a horse’s head and a scaly fishlike tail. A fascinating item of tableware that is sure to add character to your home. Each Gluggle Jug is designed as a fully functioning water jug but has its own sound effect. A three-quarter full, each jug, when being poured will Gluggle merrily. $49.95

For more than 50-year, Vandor has created hip and functional products for fans of all ages. We pride ourselves on setting new standards in the design and marketing of licensed consumer goods featuring today’s most legendary entertainment properties. Star Wars was destined to change the face of cinema forever. It was an instant classic and an unparalleled box office success. The epic space fantasy introduced the mystical Force into cultural vocabulary, as well as iconic characters such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. The Star Wars Large Recycled Tote is the perfect gift for any Star Wars fan. This tote is (made of 25 percent recycled materials), strong, and water resistant. It is great for shopping and a good alternative to a traditional gift bag. The strap features a 9-Inch drop for easy carrying. Simply wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Each bag includes a color hang tag. Vandor has been making retro cool since 1957. Legends live on at Vandor. $5.95

Ostensibly a profile of American Soto Zen priest Edward Espe Brown , for 30 years the head cook of the California Tassajara Zen Center, the film is in the end more about how we relate to food, and ultimately how we relate to life. In Japan’s Soto Zen tradition, cooking is more than just feeding the monks. It’s about close attention to detail. It’s about respect for the produce of the Earth. In the process, its as much about preparing yourself as it is a meal. This is a wonderful, thoughtful movie that will put you at ease in the kitchen as well as in your life.  $2.99 and up.

Comedian Coogan and the fantastic Rob Brydon play fictional counterparts of their real life personas. Coogan has been contracted by a local paper to review a series of the country’s finest restaurants. When his girlfriend backs out on the trip, Coogan scrambles for a replacement settling for a friendly acquaintance that he has worked with in the past (Brydon). In a largely improvisational manner, the two companions bicker and provoke one another with a playful respect. Brydon continually lapses into terrific impersonations and challenges Coogan to much verbal sparring. Over the course of numerous meals and much travel time, the movie plays as the daft cousin to “My Dinner With Andre” as the two showbiz professionals ruminate on life, love, food, friendship, and career. That’s really about it, but the film is never short of fascinating. Coogan’s character has an underlying insecurity and his bluster with Brydon alternates between silliness and scathing wit. $3.99 and up.


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