After months of cooking, who couldn’t use something tasty to eat that they didn’t have to make themselves? Here’s a list of five exclusive, locally made items that you can still buy and get to everyone on your list in time for Christmas. Any of the these gifts would not only make your friends and family feel special, but would also offer them something delicious to nosh on during their socially distanced holiday celebrations this winter.
Boxes of Macarons by Brittnee Klinger
Brittnee Klinger recently moved to Vancouver after working at a Las Vegas bakery that was featured on Food Network’s “Vegas Cakes.” She also competed on Food Network’s “Big Time Bake” before taking a job at Vancouver favorite RosyCakes until it closed several months ago. For Christmas, she’s offering something she loves to make: macarons.
“I became obsessed with them a couple years ago. I made them every day and my family thought I was crazy,” Klinger said. “It’s hard to find fresh ones in the store because most places buy them from the same company so I decided to make them myself.”
For the holidays, Klinger bakes four flavors: peppermint; gingerbread with an eggnog filling; white chocolate cranberry with a cranberry jam filling; and a kid-friendly hot chocolate with marshmallow buttercream. She sells them as a dozen for $36 in gift wrapped boxes. Orders can be placed by sending a direct message to Klinger through her Instagram account at www.instagram.com/brittneeklinger. Pick up at a site near Cascade Middle School in Vancouver.
Sugar Spruce Cookie Boxes
Kristen Johnson-Slate of Sugar Spruce Baking Co. returns this year with her popular sampler cookie boxes (four flavors per pack, a dozen for $32). Offerings include her signature rosemary-walnut shortbread, ginger molasses and mini decorated sugar cookies. For 2020, she added cocoa bombs — decorated chocolate balls filled with chocolate, cocoa powder and marshmallows.
If you want to waste some time, Google “cocoa bombs” and then spend the next hour mesmerized by TikTok and YouTube videos showing oversized chocolate orbs land in hot milk then slowly unfurl to reveal cocoa powder and marshmallows tucked in their center.
Johnson-Slate and her daughter started making the cocoa bombs for fun. When she posted some on her Instagram they sold out quickly. For the holidays, she offers bombs in classic milk chocolate, peppermint with a snowman face, a chocolate Grinch-colored bomb, double espresso mocha, ruby pink made with Belgian ruby chocolate, and a shiny gold Mexican hot chocolate bomb ($6-$8 per bomb).
You can order the cookie boxes or bombs by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. When you order, Johnson-Slate will send you a time to pick them up at a spot in Felida.
Manja Creations Pasta, Sauce and Chocolate Gift Bag
Manja Creations, a local business run by mother-and-daughter team Marleen and Amy Cords, began selling sauces, pastas and chocolates in 2015. Marleen rediscovered her joy of cooking after her housecleaning business in Battle Ground declined in 2010. Around that time, her father lived in a nursing home and she would feed him and the other residents her homemade dishes. After her father died in 2011, Marleen and her daughter, Amy, focused on their business, Manja Creations. Since then, they’ve sold their sauces and pastas at local shops and the Salmon Creek Farmers Market.
For Christmas, they’ve put together a gift basket of their best sellers bagged and ready to go. Each gift bag has a jar of Mama’s Marinara sauce, two bags of freshly made pasta, mango pepper jelly, ten assorted pieces of hand-dipped chocolate agave caramels and four hand-wrapped agave caramels.
Amy uses the marinara sauce as a dip for fried calamari or cheese sticks, as a base to cook meatballs in a slow cooker, and as a layer in lasagna. The mango pepper jelly with its mix of sweetness, spice and sugar has many possibilities. She likes to use it as a glaze on grilled salmon or mixed with chicken or pork in a slow cooker. One new customer at the Salmon Creek Farmers Market bought a jar of this sweet and spicy jelly, ate the entire thing slathered on a loaf of bread in his car, and quickly returned for two more jars.
The pastas — egg with roasted garlic, and spinach with roasted garlic — are freshly made and shelf stable for a couple of weeks or longer in the freezer.
Bags can be ordered directly by emailing Manja Creations at email@example.com or through the Second Mile Food Hub (secondmilefoodhub.localfoodmarketplace.com), which delivers along the Interstate 5 corridor from Vancouver to Ridgefield. Ordering through Second Mile allows you to add some items for yourself, like lavender sachets, natural soaps, honey, nut butters and locally grown produce, as well as Italian sausages and ground beef from Greene Jungle.
Starter Bread Share
Feeding a sourdough starter and making your own bread seemed fun in March or April when we thought life would return to normal sometime soon. At this point, most of us have abandoned the quest. Fortunately, Matt Kedzie formerly of Lovely’s Fifty Fifty and Handsome Pizza/Seastar Bakery, offers subscriptions for his wild yeast slow-fermented breads flavored with locally sourced heritage and ancient grains.
Kedzie likes the richness he gets from using flavorful and nutritious whole grains from local mills. The variety of tastes that theses grains add to the bread greatly varies, much the way different varieties of apples have flavors ranging from sweet to tart. Past bread offerings include moist, chewy loaves made with single grains like polenta, emmer, durum, barley, spiced rye, or moon bread made from grains sourced from Moon Family in Eastern Washington. Loaves arrive at the weekly pickup site still warm, ready to slice and slather with butter or jam.
Subscriptions are available monthly ($40-$50) or for several months ($120-$130) through the Starter Bread website (www.starterbread.com). Loaves are picked up every Monday at a site in Vancouver’s Lincoln Neighborhood. Kedzie emails a weekly newsletter to subscribers giving information to them about their bread including an explanation of the grains used and their history.
Sauce Boxx Subscription
Madeline Bache, a busy momtrepeneur with four small children and two businesses that she runs with her husband, Nate, dreamed of opening a sauce subscription service before COVID-19 hit. Bache, like her customers, is a working mom trying to feed her family interesting meals with limited time. Her goal was to create fresh products that make it easy to prepare meals that pop with flavor.
“I wanted to offer something to make it all come together,” she said.
As the pandemic spread, the combination of more people cooking at home while limiting trips to the grocery store and chefs looking for work helped her food delivery business, Sauce Boxx, rapidly expand. Bache isn’t a chef, but she’s been able to recruit a team of chefs who were furloughed due to shutdowns. She found Chef Paul Linthacum, who apprenticed at clarklewis and was formerly lead cook at Embassy Suites, through a friend. Linthacum is one of her team of chefs featured in the instructional and inspirational videos she regularly posts on her company’s Facebook and Instagram sites. Bache’s enthusiasm and goofy personality in her videos make cooking dinner actually seem like fun.
Each month Sauce Boxx subscribers get three products delivered to their house that may include sauces, marinades, dressings, jams and flavored butters, along with recipe cards explaining how to make use of them. The Everything Basil sauce, loaded with fresh garlic, basil, and lemon, is a customer favorite and comes with each subscriber’s first box. Past offerings include Loaded Garlic and Herb Butter with thyme, rosemary and chives as well as seasonal offerings like Fresh Berry Ruby Port Sauce or Wild Mushroom and Cabernet Sauce. For the holidays, Sauce Boxx offers a Send a Sauce Boxx special for $30 per month for one to three months with free shipping.