THE TIME FOR GIFTING is almost here -- so I wanted to give you a heads-up on some great gadgets and such that I've had a chance to check out.
At the very top of my list is the Rose Beater Blade, a far better mix attachment to the KitchenAid mixer. The blade, designed by noted baker Rose Levy Beranbaum, eliminates the need to lift and mix the dry stuff from the bottom. It literally hits every surface with a rubber swipe. It's pure genius. I'm guessing that the KitchenAid team is kicking itself for not dreaming up this innovation themselves. Either which way, WE WIN. But this for every baker who has a KitchenAid. He/She will LOVE-love it. I promise. or details, go to

SINCE MOST PEOPLE love eating and a whole lot of them like to cook as well, when it comes time for gifting, food and food-related items are often right on target. Here are some of the best food gift ideas that have landed in my inbox.
For the Green-minded

Those who want to take the extra step to ensure that they are not infusing their food and their environment with toxic chemicals should consider the new Eco-logic Cookware, a new line of non-stick ware that's coated with porcelain. The cookware is expensive -- it starts at $60 for a small saute pan -- but it performed really well in a one-month marathon test.

For the Wine-O 

Cheese Tiles from Placetile Designs
Only a true cheeselover (ME!) would appreciate the super elegant, embossed ceramic tiles that you write on with a dry-erase marker. Write the name of the cheese and either poke the pointy part into a soft cheese or tuck it under. I realize these aren't a must-have, but they are very classy.  They're $29.95 for a set of four.
Silly pads
For the wine aficionado who has a sense of humor, check out the "Knock Knock" pads, a series of notepads relating to food and drink. I like the "Rate that Wine" pads that ask the drinker to fill out the normal info re: a wine, including vintage, grape type and price, but also comments such as "Murky as a polluted lake" and "Rotten Eggs." Drinkers are asked to give overall rating via the question "Drink again?" -- to which the answers include a resounding "Hell, No!" The pads are $6.99 at specialty stores or online at

The Artful Winemaker
Now this gift is not cheap. It's more for the big-budget spender who needs a gift for someone who loves wine, and might like to dabble in the art of making wine herself. It's a winemaking system, ie: a container that comes with juice, yeast, bottles, caps and everything else you need to make and bottle a dozen bottles of your very own wine. The process takes 28 days, start to finish. Since my wine is still in the barrel, or plastic vat, as it were, I have no idea if it will be worth drinking or not. But the process is definitely a lot of fun. The kit is $99 through Dec. 31; $149 thereafter. Shipping is $19.95 in the continental U.S. *note that you get to choose what kind of wine you'd like to make.

For the Foodie

 If you know someone who loves baking and likes to make their food special, there's the Breville Personal Pie Maker. I love this thing. It's about the size of a panini press. You put pastry dough into the four pie-shaped holes, use a form to press it in; fill your pies with anything, top them and close the lid. What you get is something that reminds me of my youth -- little pies that look like those Swanson pot pies. Love it. We filled them with pumpkin mash for Thanksgiving. $79.99 at Williams-Sonoma.