Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lovely Last-Minute Gifts! My Recommendations

These four items-- all of which I own-- are absolutely lovely.  You'd feel proud to gift them.  (I know, because I've done so!)

1.  Beata Zatorska and Simon Target, Rose Petal Jam: Recipes and Stories from a Summer in Poland (2011).

Such beautiful photographs, with a layout that evokes pretty scrapbooks and old-world textiles! And while this cookbook frames its (unique and plentiful) recipes with memoir, I never felt that Zatorska's anecdotes overwhelmed the material...  Last Christmas I gave this book to both my mother and my mother-in-law; and it was a hit!  My mom and I spent some time going over the recipes together, and my mother-in-law reportedly stayed up late in order to read through her copy.

One hint, though: As Rose Petal Jam offers only European measures, its recipient might need a kitchen scale.  I bought one for my mom, to accompany the book-- and I'm so glad that I did, as it allowed us to launch straight into the recipes!

2. Beata Zatorska and Simon Target, Sugared Orange: Recipes & Stories from a Winter in Poland (2013).

Companion volume to the above, this beautiful cookbook (if anything, still more beautiful!) guides you through a Christmas season in old-world Poland.  This one, too, I gave to my mom last year.  As with the previous volume, European measurements make a kitchen scale a practical companion gift.

While I know it's sophisticated to scorn British cooking, here's a confession:  I love it.  Pub food especially. During a semester in England (in the 1990s, before everyone and their brother went abroad!), I liked nothing better than a pub lunch or supper-- bangers and mash, or toad-in-the-hole, or leek soup, etc., washed down by a pint of my favorite Caffrey's Irish Ale.

So when I saw this book in the library, I had to check it out; and then I had to buy it; and then, I had to buy it for someone else (identity undisclosed, for obvious reasons)!  If you have an American Anglophile on your list, this is the gift... (Warning:  If the person is actually British, he/she may be put off or even offended by the very American slant of the author's comments.)

Ever since children joined our Polish-American family, I'd been looking for a good recording of koledy in English-- and at last, here it is!  Accustomed to reverent choral interpretations, I was at first unsure of the contemporary, even slightly "country" feel; but I quickly accepted this album on its own terms.  (Shouldn't carols be living things?)  

And the kids love it!  "Today in Bethlehem," "To the Stable," "Quickly on to Bethlehem," and "Lullaby Sweet Jesus" are their special favorites; and I also have a special liking for "Come Shepherds to the Stable" and "In Night's Still Silence"... It feels good to know that we're all growing more familiar with these old lovely melodies!  And because I never learned Polish, I also appreciate the English lyrics.

Happy last-minute shopping!  I'm still at it online... Same old story, right?  Best of luck.

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