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9 Weeks ’til Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

So I’ve been counting down to Christmas and sharing some of my best gift ideas with you over the past few weeks. Catch up at the beginning with 12 Weeks to Christmas.

This is one of the simplest gifts you can give your family. And, it doesn’t have to “cost” you anymore than time spent with them and a bit of grocery money.

This book is not just a cookbook, it’s a journey into learning to provide a cleaner diet for your family.

I love Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution right from the opening statement on his website. . .

“This food revolution is about saving America’s health by changing the way you eat. . . it’s a movement for you, your family and your community. If you care about your kids and their future take this revolution and make it your own. Educate yourself about food and cooking. Find out what your child is eating at school. Make only a few small changes and magical things will happen. Switching from processed to fresh food will not only make you feel better but it will add years to your life. You can…”

It’s about throwing away the packets, bottles and stuff sitting in your freezer in boxes pretending to be food. It’s a simple enough concept. Our mothers and grandmothers knew it like the backs of their hands.

You begin with a few essential tools.

And a well-stocked pantry. All the more essential when you live in the boondocks, like I do.

Jamie Oliver’s food revolution, and his cookbook, based on the movement, is about learning how to cook with real ingredients – simple ingredients.

Rediscover the cucumber salad – with four delicious variations.

Or try it out with tomatoes.

Salad dressings are really incredibly simple to make, but we’ve all become so accustomed to the colorful commercial varieties, it feels like a gourmet venture to whip up our own. How crazy is that?

In this household, we’ve made a concerted effort to rid our diets of packaged and processed food over the past few years. And, I’ve taken the time to teach some basic techniques to my kids. Teenager makes a killer chicken noodle soup from scratch, and in a pinch, Wee can whip up scrambled eggs and bacon.

My mom cooked everything from scratch. I swear the only items she purchased at the grocery store were flour and sugar.

Oh, and ketchup. But, she even made that herself for a few years.

I wish she had taught me to cook back when I was a kid, but then I probably wasn’t very receptive to it. I likely would have choosen the barn over the kitchen any day of the week.

But, nowadays, I like to cook. In another life, I lived in the city with a girl who was French Canadian and taught me how to make things like caesar salad dressing and spaghetti sauce from scratch.

The connection between the heritage and recipes beats me too. But, her love of cooking from scratch and entertaining awakened the same qualities in me.

She’s become my lifelong friend, and we still exchange recipes. Cooking together is something we both look forward to when we meet up.

Nowadays I can make a beautiful and healthy lasagne from scratch. But, someday soon, I’m going to try Jamie’s.

I’ve always loved the “it takes a village” concept and Jamie’s philosophy embraces it. He’s spent a lot of time teaching ordinary people in his neighbourhood how to cook and dispersed throughout this cookbook are their stories. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the book.

Meet Tracey & Andy. They now own Sunday dinner roast.

Geoff, who has the most amazing set of coffee mugs above his windows!

and Julie, who learned how to cook out of her traditional box.

Last night I made this. Yum.

So, if you’re still haunting the aisles of your local Costco freezer section, go out and buy this cookbook, I dare you to.

It’s loaded with photos and step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. Perfect for the beginner cook, for lazy cooks, for busy horsepeople, like me, like you, who don’t have time to spend all afternoon in the kitchen, and for anyone who just needs a little bit of inspiration in the kitchen.

If you already practice clean diet, aka, cooking from scratch practices, pass it on! To your kids, your spouses, your friends, and neighbors. I promise it will be one of the best gifts you can give – at any time of year.

Besides, how hard is this guy to look at. . .

Ahhhheeem, where were we on that recipe?

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