Gift guide for foodies

This week’s Parade gift guide is a gift guide for foodies (you can check it out here). If you missed the other gift guides I did for Parade—a gift guide for everyone and tech gifts for the gadget-obsessed—you can still access them.

Rather than just give you several more foodie gifts you can find, I decided to take you on a foodie world tour, highlight some of the best stuff I’ve eaten abroad and help you bring it on home. And I’ve included a few of my favorite European kitchen tools.

Foods of the world

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Uses for vintage bottles

I recently asked for creative floral arrangements here, and I was thrilled when my friend Cathy, an AMAZING entertainer, responded. Invites to her dinner parties are coveted spots. She’s an incredible cook, but her skill set encompasses way more than the kitchen. She creates an atmosphere and a theme for each party with the creative decor and incredible food. Check out her recipes at Word of Mouth.

Cathy'sGranduationParty

Here, she hosted a graduation party for her niece, who finished medical school. Cathy decorated the table with vintage medicine bottles (from ebay), filling some with a few fresh blooms.

I imagine making my own “Poison” labels and wrapping vintage medicine bottles for a Halloween party or creating “Love Potion” labels for a Valentines’ party centerpieces.

Every Day with Rachael Ray Bathtub Gin

For Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, I created a Great Gatsby-inspired party. Instead of traditional party favors, I filled small bottles with bathtub gin (pictured above) and gave guests their nightcaps to go. You can download the bathtub gin labels here.

Bathtub gin was created in people’s homes during Prohibition when people steeped grain alcohol with juniper berries and water. Combine equal parts water and a strong grain vodka in a 750 ml sealable container. Add 0.35 ounces of dried juniper berries and 0.07 ounces lemon or orange peel as well as a little cardamom, cloves or nutmeg. Store in a cool dark place for up to a week, shaking the elixir thoroughly once a day. Before putting it in take-home jars, send the entire mixture through a strainer and then a water filter.

Tell me how you’ve decorated with small vintage bottles. I’d love to see photos.

Making traditional Swiss fondue

Making traditional Swiss fondue
I love food. When I travel, I base destinations around my stomach. So when we arrived in Lausanne, fondue topped my cuisine wish list.

Scott and I found the local favorite in our small town, a nondescript restaurant in an arcade that’s been cooking up a meal of melted cheese since 1951. Cafe Romand did not disappoint. We dipped our white bread in cheesy deliciousness and sipped our small glasses of red wine. Final cost? About $53–kind of pricey for a pot of melted cheese and some bread, no?

Luckily, I found a traditional Swiss fondue pot–steel exterior with an enameled finish on the inside–at the Geneva flea market, which only set me back $5. Unlike the purists at Cafe Romand, I served my cheesy dip with chorizo, sliced chicken, pears, a baguette and potatoes.
Serving fondue
I researched several recipes before coming up with my own version of traditional Swiss fondue.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups shredded gruyere cheese (Note: Don’t go overboard with the gruyere. Too much gives the fondue a gritty texture. Stick to 1.5 cups)
1.5 cups shredded emmenthaler cheese
.5 cups shredded Appenzeller cheese
2.5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 garlic glove
1 cup dry white wine
One teaspoon fresh lemon juice
A pinch nutmeg
Fresh-ground pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Rub the garlic over the inside of the fondue pot. Heat the white wine over medium heat. Don’t let it boil. Just get it hot.
2. Mix all cheeses and flour in a bowl.
3. When wine is hot, add lemon juice.
4. Put a handful of the cheese and flour mixture in the wine. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. Repeat until you’ve used all the cheese mixture. Lower heat and constantly stir, allowing the cheesy mixture to bubble slightly.
5. Stir in the nutmeg and pepper and serve.
**We don’t have a burner so we put our pot on a wooden cutting board and started dunking.**
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