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Foodie gift ideas? Kitchen Literacy tops list

by: SUBMITTED ART, A copy of the book “Kitchen Literacy” would make a great gift for anyone on your gift-giving list. The book is written by Ann Vileisis, an Oregon environmental author.

Need some gift ideas for the foodie on your holiday list? I've created a list of 10 items that should bring oohs and ahhs from the recipients and are fun to give as well. Take a gander:

1. Top of the list is a copy of 'Kitchen Literacy - How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get it Back' by Ann Vileisis.

This is a thought-provoking account of how making dinner has changed over the past 200 years. Vileisis, who lives in Port Orford, is an environmental historian by profession. During the course of her everyday life, she - like many of us - was struck by how little we knew about the foods we eat, who made them or what went into making them. 'Kitchen Literacy' traces America's food preference evolution from pre-industrialized farming days to the indifference of today's urban lifestyle.

Vileisis discusses advertising ploys using pictures of grains and wildlife to market processed food as 'natural.' She talks of the era when scientific endorsements promoted foods and the age when ignorance about food became some kind of virtue.

Vileisis writes about 'The Covenant of Ignorance,' the silent nod of assent toward the use of pesticides and other innovations that changed agriculture in the years following World War II.

Thankfully, she ends the book with a chapter on 'Kitchen Countertrends,' back-to-the-land efforts like organic farming, and the hope that we will rediscover some of the knowledge of our ancestors and find a way to eat well and live better.

It's a fascinating read and, in my opinion, should be on every nightstand in the country!

'Kitchen Literacy' is available at all bookstores. Learn more at www.kitchenliteracy.org .

2. 'King Corn' on DVD. This documentary, made by Lake Oswego native son Curt Ellis and his best friend from Yale, Ian Cheney, has a message every family should hear - loud and clear! It'll have you reading labels and avoiding any trace of HFCS. Order online at www.kingcorn.net .

3. A subscription to Edible Portland

Rather give a gift that will encourage action?

4. Cooking Classes - lots of options here in most every price range.

5. A garden plot at Luscher Farm. Order through www.lakeoswegoparks.org .

6. Garden seeds and equipment.

7. A membership in the Portland Slow Food USA convivium.

8. Insulated picnic bag or basket filled with specialty food items.

9. Create your own Food of the Month gift. Does your recipient like breads, teas, desserts or hors d'ouevres? Give them a card with dates noted when you will deliver the goods!

10. An assortment of homemade jam or jelly, chutney, salsa or mustard.

The people at Ball Canning have created the Platinum series of canning jars. Same great quality jar updated with new platinum-colored rings and lids. These jars make perfect presentations for hostess and teacher gifts.

The Ball Company shares this recipe for Quick Cran-Apple Butter. Use Oregon cranberries and apples to achieve the rosy holiday color.

Bon Appetite! Eat Locally!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the cooking contest! Next Thursday is the Entry Deadline!

Quick Cran-Apple Butter

Makes four 8 ounce half pints

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 (1.59 - oz.) package Ball

Simple Creations Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 large orange

1 cup fresh or thawed, frozen cranberries

4 cups peeled, cored, coarsely chopped apples (about 4medium)

1 tablespoons lemon juice

4 plastic Ball (8 ounce) Freezer Jars

Stir sugar, brown sugar, contents of pectin package, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg into a bowl until well blended. Set aside.

Zest orange. Set zest aside. Cut orange in half. Over a one-cup liquid measure, squeeze orange halves to yield ¼ cup juice. Set aside.

Pulse cranberries in a blender until finely chopped. Add apples, orange juice and lemon juice. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add cranberry-apple puree and orange zest to the pectin mixture. Stir three minutes.

Ladle jam into clean 8-oz, plastic freezer jars to fill line. Twist on lids. Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to three weeks or freeze up to one year.

From Ball Canning Test Kitchen, Fall 2007

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .