Brooklyn Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts

Still looking for the perfect gift for your favorite chef or baker? Well look no further! Living local isn’t just about local produce and reducing your carbon footprint, it’s also about supporting the local community. If you haven’t noticed, small businesses and artisinal shops are on the rise in Brooklyn. From DIY kits to rooftop salt and adorable kitchen decor, I’ve put together a list of my favorite local finds.

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And She Rises from Boxes

MovingBoxes

Heeeeelllllllllllllloooooooooooooo! For those of you who think I fell off the face of the earth, I’m SO SORRY. I’m back, though it may take another week or so until things get back to normal. For those of you who are thinking, “What? Melissa was gone for almost two weeks?” Well, I know who’s getting cut off this year’s Christmas list.

We moved last weekend. Still in Brooklyn, really just a few blocks from our old place, but now in a house, not an apartment building, and with a bathroom that doesn’t make you think of bumblebees. It’s been close to seven years since I’ve really moved. I mean, we went from a one bedroom to a two bedroom in our old place, but it was literally right across the hall. We moved everything over the course of 3 weeks and  could take our time placing things exactly where we wanted them. Real moving is tough. People talk about the packing and lifting heavy furniture, but no one reminds you that it will disrupt your life for weeks, maybe even months.

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Balsamic Tomato Jam with Fresh Basil

Balsamic Tomato Jam with Basil

Quite pleased with my first batch of spicy tomato jam (I’m convinced I could have made another jar if I didn’t sample it so much), I still had about 4 pounds of tomatoes left over from my two bushel canning projects and craving for more. What I wasn’t up for was the 5 hour cooking, babysitting, tomato splattering all over my stove again. I was convinced there had to be some shortcut. Lots of people make tomato jam. Busy people. Sane people who don’t work all day then stay up canning until 2am (a fact I will not confirm or deny). So what was the secret?

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Spicy Tomato Jam

Spicy Tomato Jam

In February I went to my first ever BK Swapper event. My jams, jellies and caramel sauce traded well for a bounty of goods but what I remember most was the tomato jam. Sweet, sticky, with a bit of heat to round things out, it made ketchup seem so bland and basic. It took a few months for me to open the jar, but once I did it was gone in a matter of weeks. Never have I gone through a condiment so quickly. It went on everything from burgers to toast to grilled chicken. I’ve never been good with names or faces so I had no idea who made this delicious jam. I searched the BK Swappers Facebook page for clues but nothing. With much despair, I realized if I ever wanted to enjoy this yummy jam again, I’d need to make it myself.

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Honeyed Ginger Cardamom Apricots

Fresh Apricots

For a long time I found myself disappointed with the quality of apricots I found at the greenmarkets. I remember desserts of bright orange with vibrant flavor and sweetness. Yet with every (pretty expensive) apricot I bite into, I feel underwhelmed. It was only after I did some research online that I learned those bland apricots I tasted are perfectly right. Apricots are amazing in the way that they are the only fruit that truly comes alive after being cooked. You’ll never get the same satisfaction from a raw apricot as you would a juicy peach but cook them up in a bread pudding or even can them and you’ll be well rewarded for your efforts.

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