11 December, 2010

Possible Holiday Gift #5: Design-Your-Own Food

So I'm a big DIY (Do It Yourself) kind of person. I love, among others, the websites/blogs from Punk Domestics, ForageSF, and ReadyMade (who also has a print magazine); I refuse to have people wash my laundry for me (which was a challenge when I lived with a family in Costa Rica and in a city without coin laundry mats like Argentina!); I have had an obsession with DIY home-repair shows since I was a kid; I rarely order basic pasta or chicken dishes in restaurants because I know I could do that myself for A LOT less money; and obviously I like to cook at home where I can control what's going into my body, often using unlikely ingredients that were just sitting around in my fridge whining about how bored they were. Clearly then, giving a gift that I designed myself is a win-win present in my opinion. Here are few suggestions of small, independent, online companies that make the grade by letting you use your creativity (no matter how closeted it may be) to make an imaginative, original product that you usually can name yourself, making these customizable gifts for all occasions. 

Courtesy of designatea.com
Design A Tea's name says it all. They do their part as a green company, using recycled paper products, labels, even environmentally friendly inks as well as to make every attempt to purchase from Fair Trade growers that use organically grown teas and ingredients. The rooibos tea looks especially nice with a touch of honey, though they also have available the intriguing flavor of zabaglione, an Italian egg custard made with sweet wine and also popular in France and around Latin America!

Courtesy of elementbars.com
Custom Energy Bars - Over at Element Bars you can sort through wholesome ingredients like dried blueberries, cherries, and apricots, pumpkin/flax seeds, almonds, brown rice/maple/agave syrup, and pumpkin spice that will be condensed into either a chewy, oaty, crispy, or datey bar. For an added bonus, you can add "boosts" like soy protein or fiber. They utilize only all-natural ingredients that have been as minimally processed as possible and, in general, they stay away from anything too high-tech - the ingredients can speak for themselves!

Courtesy of slantshackjerky.com
Build-A-Jerky - Using your choice of grass-fed beef from Vermont Highland Cattle or simple (not as tasty or earth-friendly) USDA beef, you pick what kind of marinade, rub ("Smokey Sanche's Dusty Trail" with cayenne and brown sugar sounds amazing), and/or glaze you would like. You also get to specify the quantity of jerky you want - 1/4, 1/2, or 1 pound.

Courtesy of createmychocolate.com
Create My Chocolate - Chocolate, that luscious treat that is so near and dear to my heart! At Chocrí meine Schokolade, a company that begin in Germany with distributors now also in the U.S. and U.K., they too understand my relatively harmless addiction. Here you can customize your own bar starting with either milk, dark (my fave), white, or a combo milk/white chocolate (all fair-trade). Then add fruit (fig bits, goji berries, sour cherries, pear bits, etc.), spices (ground chili, orange pepper, gingerbread spice, chives), nuts (spicy "Volcano Cashews," hazelnut brittle, coconut shavings), confections (crushed candy cane, licorice drops), grains (candied lilac flowers, cocoa nibs, cornflakes), and/or decor (real gold flakes, a marzipan rose). Regardless of the decorations you choose, they all end up looking like little, edible, abstract paintings!

Courtesy of ecreamery.com
eCreamery - Makes tantalizing flavors of ice cream like Eggnog, Caramel Apple Pie, Avocado (a personal fave), and Cake with Sprinkles; gelato flavors of Honey Lavender, Spicy Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, and Stout beer; and sorbet(to) made from fruits like Cantaloupe, Passion Fruit, and Banana. Don't forget to pick your mix-ins from a choice of candied ginger, peppermint stick pieces, caramel walnut brownie pieces, etc. Yum!

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