Non-edible gift ideas for food-types in Canada

(because we can’t eat everything)

Just in case you missed the memo, Christmas in November is now a thing.

The pandemic has been rough in many different ways, so if you have already decked the halls for some extra festive feels there is no judgement here. And let’s face it: big chains like Costco and Amazon are going to be just fine post-pandemic. There is a lot of power in our purchasing dollars, especially when shopping small. Here’s a list of some of my favourite non-edible things that makes food-me as excitable as Doug from Up (yes, the dog):

Support independent bookstores

Canada is home to a fair number of indie bookstores that need your help this festive season (and always). Instead of that big brand with a fake soulless smile, Kelowna is home to Mosiac Books – family-owned and operated since 1968. That’s also how long they’ve been supporting Canadian authors, as well – take a bow!

You might have heard that I’ve co-created a different kind of book club, one that focuses on the food stories of writers who have lots to say but have a difficult time getting heard. Recommendations from our work-in-progress list:

Milk, Spice & Curry Leaves / Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama. Just the first Sri Lankan cookbook to be published in Canada, no big deal! Stuffed cover to cover with 85 lickable family recipes that will satisfy meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. With a few firsts under my belt, I am excited for what’s to come for those who follow.

Notes From a Young Black Chef / Kwame Onwuachi. Not only a stellar must-read, but the audio version is also brought to life with Kwame’s ‘umami-voice’ (it’s a thing).

In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers in Eight African Countries That Touch the Indian Ocean / Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen. Umm, the title of this cookbook-meets-travelogue speaks for itself.

Braiding Sweetgrass / Robin Wall Kimmerer. Oh, man, it’s so beautifully and romanticly poetic – Robin’s writing makes me swoon.

Jubilee / Toni Tipton-Martin. The James Beard award-winning author takes us on a journey of Black history whilst we pile into her home kitchen with 100 or so recipes with purpose.

I have more book recommendations for you, but I guess I’ll stop.

Buy it: Mosaic Books | 411 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna | Black & Indigenous-owned (click click)

Support local musicians

Music is a big part of how I function on the daily – whilst driving, in the shower and definitely when cooking. To get you in the zone in a hyper-local way, why not listen to the sounds of our crazy talented local musicians, too? Who are my favourites, you say? Well, Chloe Davidson, Andrew Judah, Post Modern Connection, Andrew Allen, Rinnovare, Kansas Lee, Joshua Smith, Leila Neverland, Kentucky Eileen are just a few who conveniently have direct downloads too (hint hint). Kitchen entertainment is vital when adding the love part, so fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.

Support social enterprises

Supporting local is all about the bigger picture by looking out for the planet. Ditching plastic is easy when you have a market tote with the words, Delicious AF, printed on it (umm, don’t eat the bag)! The Paisley Notebook’s bag is handmade in Vancouver by a non-profit social enterprise that employs and empowers at-risk women by teaching them how to sew, printed with eco-friendly water-based inks, and exudes girl power.

Buy it: The Paisley Notebook | online

Buy from local crafters

The oh-so-talented Jackie of Oak Handmade has been making my plating fingers look extra twinkly for years with her beautifully crafted, sustainably-mind range of bracelets and jewellery.

Buy it: Oak Handmade Jewelry | online or from the Kelowna Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market 

 

Next, candles because…mood. There are a lot of candle makers across the Okanagan, but some of my faves use 100% soy that’s hand-poured. From Crush Candles who repurpose empty Okanagan wine bottles from your go-to wineries to save the repurpose and reuse to Wildnerness by Okanagan Candle Co. when I need the forest in my life. And then there Anupaya’s gorgeous new tapers for your next dinner party. Love and light, people – it’s coming!

Buy it: Crush Candles; Okanagan Candle Co.; Anupaya | online

Now, let’s talk about having insanely pretty handmade things to match all that locally inspired food you’ll be itching to try. If you’re in the Okanagan, check out Drift Ceramics (oh, their teapots), Kiln 9 Ceramics (speckled plates), Alix Parisotto Ceramics (more speckled things like mugs), or the cute prints of Wayne & Freda at the Penticton-based coffee shop. Check out JustPotters collection of mugs for Nelson the Seagull in Vancouver, and if you’re looking for the most beautiful of all artisan plates, look no further than Vancouver’s Janaki Larsen – the go-to artist to all the fancy west coast chefs.

 

Buy it: Drift Ceramics; Kiln 9 Ceramics; Wayne & Freda; Nelson the Seagull; Janaki Larsen | online or in-store

 

Meet Canada’s knife shop

After watching The Last Samurai, I suddenly felt the urge to become a samurai – being gifted an elegantly crafted, built-to-last-forever Japanese knife from Knifewear is the closest to fulfilling that dream. Since successfully dropping a shit-ton of hints to my sister, I have added another two to my knife roll because sharp things matter in the kitchen.

Buy it: Knifewear | online or stores across the country (but no longer in the Okanagan – boo)

Support Canadian artisans in other provinces

Sexy French rolling pin, anyone? Andrew Glazebrook, based out of Red Deer, is all a wizard when it comes to turning Canadian maple into something equally as delicious with his tapered rolling pins. Talk about amping up your dough game.

Buy it: Andrew Glazebrook | online

French rolling pin

And then comes my fellow serial-entrepreneur-of-a-friend from Anupaya (which means ‘the pathless path’). From the coolest Canadian-made fedoras and blankets to prints and now things for your home, Shannon is all about sustainability in an ethical, transparent, and accountable way. McSpoony (that’s my new name for her) has dropped kitchenware that spans from the cutest fucking spoons (mental note: I must not use turmeric), cosy kitchen linens, and boho-chic aprons. Their ‘One Pound Pledge’ means they commit to removing one pound of waste from the planet with every purchase (promise). And yes, I’m very proud of my friend, what she does and how she goes about doing it.

Buy it: Anupaya | online

 

That’s quite the list of awesomeness, right?

Shop small. 

Shop early. 

Support Black & Indigenous businesses. 

Be kind. 

Be merry.

I’d gladly accept gifts (just kidding, unless you want to).

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