If you have finished all of your Christmas shopping, well then today’s post is not for you. However, if you have a long list of friends and relatives that you still need TO buy for – well, read on. Unfortunately, I’m not up on the latest and greatest, so, I can’t tell you what to buy for your spouse, your mom and dad or your best friend. However, I can make a few suggestions of what NOT to give to more or less anyone.
Fruitcake. A perennial non-favorite, fruitcake is THE what-not-to-give gift. The world’s most popular re-gift, this sticky-sweet cake is an acquired taste; one that few acquire. I’m guessing that hundreds, even thousands, of re-gifted fruitcakes have been bouncing from one house to the next for decades.
Socks and underwear. Forget coal, socks and underwear are what bad little girls and boys find in their stocking on Christmas morning.
Appliances. Unless you are ready to sleep in the garage for the next month or two, never, ever give your spouse a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. Same goes for a dish washer or washing machine.
Exercise equipment. Buying a loved one exercise equipment is a sort of like hesitating before answering the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” The same holds true for a gym membership, a diet book or, heaven forbid, a scale.
The obvious re-gift. Re-gifting is somewhat controversial. While few admit, many do it. Controversy aside, there are re-gifts and, then, there are re-gifts. If your initials are monogrammed on the cuff, don’t re-gift that shirt. Yes, even if it makes your skin look sallow. Keep it for a Halloween costume or donate it to Goodwill.
Now, are there exceptions to any of these rules? Of course, there are always exceptions. Well, make that usually exceptions. I can’t think of a soul who is pining for a fruitcake. As for that canvas bag with your initials? Sorry, throw it in the truck of the car. Orange may not be your color but it will be great for grocery shopping.
Anyway, back to exceptions. You can break the socks and underwear rule if your gift is beyond special. The key to socks is finding pairs that your friends would never buy for themselves. Simple black, navy and brown or athletic socks are not for gifting. Colorful rainbows, alligators and pink flamingos work for me. Nor should you give a three-pack of tidy-whities to your sweetheart. Think lingerie, silk and sexy. (But make sure you get the right size. Otherwise, you could be sleeping in the garage until Valentine’s Day.)
While a vacuum cleaner never works, a young foodie who is assembling her first kitchen will be delighted with a gourmet gadget or fancy cookware. Think food processors, stand mixers and pasta makers. Or one of those fabulous French cast-iron pots.
Although they make great clothes racks, forget the treadmill or stationary bike. However, it may be okay to give the kids the latest athletic status symbols. Or maybe not. If one of the kids on your list failed the bean bag toss and has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, well, you might want to think again.
Happy shopping and bon appétit!
Garlicy Shrimp with Tomatoes & Olives
This quick dish is perfect for the busy holiday season (and that fabulous French cast-iron casserole). Enjoy!
Serves 8 for dinner & 12-16 as a small plate, tapas or appetizer
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch or to taste red pepper flakes
About 1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes*, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
About 2 pounds extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined
About 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
8 slices thick cut ciabatta or country bread, toasted
Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and sauté until they begin to bubble. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about 1/3.
While the tomatoes simmer, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high, add the shrimp and toss to combine. Cook the shrimp, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until pink.
Transfer the shrimp to individual shallow bowls.
Add the olives, capers and butter to the skillet and toss to combine. Stirring frequently, cook the sauce for about 2 minutes.
Spoon the sauce over the shrimp, sprinkle with chopped basil and parsley and serve immediately with a slice of toasted ciabatta or country bread to soak up the sauce.
* You can use regular tomatoes but I find that the ones in my grocery store have little taste during the winter months. If you use regular tomatoes, seed and chop.
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One Year Ago – Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Mushrooms & Kale
Two Years Ago – Maple-Nut Sundaes
Three Years Ago – Rosemary Cashews
Four Years Ago – Greek Stuffed Mushrooms
Five Years Ago – Ginger Crème Brûlée
Six Years Ago – Aunt Anna’s Pecan Pie
Seven Years Ago – White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle
Eight Years Ago – Chicken with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Penne
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
What about you? How do you get in the holiday spirit? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016