I spend a lot of time trolling Instagram. Over the past nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have noticed quite the baking trend. Unfortunately, the baking bug hasn’t bitten me, rather, leaving me eating raw cookie dough because the oven takes too long to preheat. With that being said, I am doing my holiday shopping on-Island this year, of course, to support our local businesses, but also selfishly to avoid the jam-packed Post Office. I decided it would be fun and useful to give my friends and family things they could use when they are baking. My idea was a bit more difficult than I anticipated, but I was determined to stick with my gift theme and do baking this year. You can insert an “I bit off more than I can chew” or “My eyes were bigger than my stomach” pun here.
My mother likes to be organized; she hasn’t posted many photos of the food she’s made, but before she went back to work from her temporary COVID hiatus, she told me she was doing a lot more in the kitchen, baking and cooking. I decided she would put to good use an iPad stand. I found a small, affordable display easel at Granite in Edgartown. It isn’t a techy design stand, and is probably designed to hold a fancy dinner plate: in my case, her iPad. It will match her kitchen nicely, and do just the trick. When she uses it, she will be able to bring up the recipe she is making on the screen, and keep it clear from anything sticky. I am hoping that having her iPad in the kitchen with her will inspire her to take pictures and upload them to her Instagram. I am crossing my fingers she doesn’t venture into making TikTok cooking videos too.
Also at Granite I found a brûlée torch, also known as a culinary torch. I wasn’t originally going to buy it, but I found after doing a little research on them that there are quite a few uses for the tool other than the obvious crème brûlée. I figured my boyfriend would really like this; he’s a pyro at heart, and this will surely keep him entertained in the kitchen. Some other uses include browning the topping on mac and cheese, making a tuna or patty melt, roasting peppers, browning meringue, toasting marshmallows for s’mores, or crisping the layer of cheese onto the top of French onion soup. Another gift for him is an oven mitt from Rainy Day on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. “I’ll bake love to you,” it reads. I hope he appreciates my humor as much as I appreciate his perfectly gooey baked brownies.
Every year I try to send my grandmother of a couple Island-specific gifts. At this point I am not sure how many more Black Dog T shirts she needs. This year I found a navy apron at Rainy Day; it has the shape of the Island and map coordinates printed on it. Also at Phillips Hardware in Oak Bluffs, I found a wonderful handmade cookie cutter of the Tabernacle, as well as a lobster. The packaging adds to the authenticity and charm, in true Island fashion.
I have two significantly younger sisters, ages 14 and 12. They are easily my favorites to shop for. An ultimate Unicorn baking set, a Mini Cupcake Set (Rainy Day), Gummy Bears + Worms mold kit (LeRoux), edible glitter and sanding sugar (LeRoux), were just a few of the kid-friendly baking gifts I found shopping in Vineyard Haven. I know they will have a blast with the two baking kits I picked out, and I can already hear them laughing while they unintentionally make a mess of the kitchen with the sprinkles and edible glitter. I also snuck an extra jar of edible glitter into my shopping basket for a treat to myself — if they say everything tastes better with butter, I think the same will ring true for glitter.
Last, my brother: The closest thing he does to baking is getting baked. I have decided to order him a pound of velvety chocolate peanut butter fudge from Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Oak Bluffs. They offer gift wrapping along with including a message, which I will take advantage of, as well as specifying when I would like the fudge to ship out. (See benandbillsmv.com/shop.)
My hope is that my loved ones will not only use their gifts, but will be inspired to bake and think of me. Selfishly, in return, I anticipate sharing some of their kitchen creations. Hint, hint.