Need a last-minute gift idea? A Cooked basket is an awesome gift. It would make a great gift for foodies, the health- or food-conscious, book lovers, and more! I read Michael Pollan’s Cooked for book club and immediately wanted to pass it on to friends. The book discusses historical cooking advancements and the role of cooking for improving health. “Cooking” does not mean reheating and partial cooking with ready-made ingredients but cooking with natural foods, the cooking of our grandparents and those before them. He structures the book around the four elements and grills with fire, cooks with liquid, bakes bread, and ferments beer. Along the way, he explores the barbecue pits in North Carolina, the fifth taste umami, a Wonder Bread factory, and a nun who makes unpasteurized cheese. In our fast-paced lives we spend very little time cooking, yet the rise of obesity correlates to the amount of time spent in a kitchen. The overarching message of the book is the necessity of rebuilding a food culture for our health, and he stresses the importance of bringing kids back into the kitchen to accomplish this goal. The book is full of interesting historical facts about food – the section on wheat mills is truly enlightening and should be a must-read for those with gluten intolerance.
Fill a gift basket with his book and some fun things that correspond to the four elements – cheese, beer, wine, artisan bread, and smoked sausage – and you have a perfect picnic or date night basket for a loved one. My basket includes fig jam, cambozola (a yummy camembert and blue cheese mix), and multigrain bread for a sexy cambozola toastie appetizer. I also included a handwritten recipe for beef bourguignon (recipe coming) and a box of wine (Big House Pinot Noir is a decent wine and price). The beef is slow-braised in a bottle wine and topped with roasted mushrooms. It’s a wonderfully cozy meal on a cold winter night. And finally, there’s some chocolate and a bottle of champagne. Sexy, fun, educational, and delicious- that’s some gift basket!