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The VFN Member Guide to Holiday Gift Giving

Here are a few holiday good gift suggestions from our members, but don't overlook a gift certificate to your favorite Vermont restaurant. Send a loved one out to eat; a relaxing meal after the holiday rush is sure to be a treasured evening.

Perfect Gifts for the Home Chef 

Encourage homemade creativity with the gift of the cookbook- Cooking Close to Home. This book is a collection of inspirational recipes to guide your cooking through the natural seasons of the harvest, and to help those who enjoy cooking learn more about preparing and buying local foods.  For anyone who has recently joined a CSA, this book will serve as a seasonal guide to using the foods typically received in a farm share.
Diane Imrie of Director of Nutrition Services at Fletcher Allen

There's always gift certificates for dinner at Ariel's, or even better a cooking class, which I give every other Sunday January through March at the Inn at Green Mountain Girls Farm.  
Chef Lee Duberman of Ariel's Restaurant
(You can see Lee’s other suggestions under Vermont Artisan Producers!)

Need a great gift for that hard-to-buy-for foodie in your life? The Essex Resort & Spa has you covered with a two great gift options!
Savor our buy-one-get-one-free offer for any three-hour 2013 Cooking Classes in Cook Academy, including our Supper Series and World Series classes. ($300 value for $149.00).
And for a stocking stuffer, enjoy admission for two to the Amusing Hour in Amuse Restaurant ($20 value for $10). From 5:00-6:00 p.m. nightly, our Chefs prepare a selection of locally-sourced appetizers, amuse bouches, and other culinary inventions right before your eyes. Good any day. Single use only. One per table/visit. Not valid with any other promotion. Present before ordering. Tax and gratuity not included for Amusing Hour. Offer Expires December 31, 2012. No cash value, no refunds. All sales final.
Stop by The Essex Resort & Spa, or call 800.727.4295!
Christine Frost of The Essex Resort and Spa

Vermont Cheese is Always a Hit! 

I always give Cabot Cheddar to folks on our list. They know our cows contribute to making the best cheddar! Everyone loves the seriously sharp. You can give in whatever size fits the person, 8 oz bar to 3 lb block!! Flavors are fun!! Add a Maple Landmark cutting board and it makes a wonderful gift. Top it off with homemade jams, relishes, or any Vermont maple product and you will be the star! From our farm to your table!!
Beth at Liberty Hill Farm

My favorite gift for the holidays is an assortment of Cabot cheese and Dakin bacon.
A variety of combinations are available!
Chris Pierson of Cabot

Vermont Butter & Cheese Bonne Bouche and Shelburne Farms Cheddar along with Lake Champlain Chocolates, of course!  Sea Salt Caramels & Chocolate Covered Almonds....
Meghan Fitzpatrick of Lake Champlain Chocolates

Cheese is the specialty. Boucher Blue is my top pick, along with the Tarentaises of Springbrook and Thistle Hill. A little harder to get, but always delightful, are any of Bonnieview’s cheeses.
Cranberry Bob of Vermont Cranberry Company    

Bring on the MEAT!

We love to give a holiday housewarming gift of our Maple Wind Farm, No Nitrate, Summer Sausage made with our 100% grass fed beef and pasture raised pork. It’s just the item that pairs so well with local cheeses/ fruits and chutneys for a great hors d'oeuvres plate. Think stocking stuffer!
Beth of  Maple Wind Farm

Lamb, pork and chickens - pastured & whole grain fed! Chickens are  processed on the farm - pork and lamb are processed at USDA inspected abattoir. Local, natural, & 100% awesome.
Mary Dollenmaier & Fred Nadon of Callahan Farm

Sausage and chacuterie.
Frank Pace of the Farmhouse Group

Our "Vermontavore" box of bacon, ham and sausages from pork all grown at Greg Finch's farm in Franklin.
Also our RealSticks sampler:  6 pieces each of our three flavors of RealSticks – the 'damn fine tasting, natural and healthy snack sticks with half the fat and salt of leading sticks.  And made with Pineland Farms beef from New York and New England!
Chris Bailey of Vermont Smoke and Cure

A favorite Vermont gift for us is the Family Pack of meats from Graze and Gaze Farm. It is a wonderful practical and delicious gift. A small family pack costs $150 for 20 pounds of grassfed beef, pastured chicken and pastured pork.    The pack includes a nice roasting chicken, 4 packages of hamburger, a pack of pork sausage, some pork chops and some beef steaks. Family packs can be picked up at the farm by appointment.
Loretta of Graze and Gaze Farm

We are giving bacon and sausage from our pigs from our farm, Do Nothing Farm-- though wrapping and keeping frozen is always a challenge!  (It’s usually a give-away what they are getting when we tell them to store their present in the freezer until Christmas morning!).
Sharon Deitz Caroli of The Bee's Knees
(You can see Sharon’s other suggestions under Vermont Artisan Producers!)

Gifts from Vermont Artisan Producers!

I think this goes without saying, but we give Switchel to all our friend and family as holiday gifts!!! We also just started giving our Specialty Switchel Ginger to our local restaurants and food producers to make holiday baked goods and butter! It’s darn delicious.
The Switchel Crew

I am giving Green Mountain Sunshine Vodka, Sumptuous Syrups Ginger Syrup & Urban Moonshine citrus bitters.... because everyone likes a fun cocktail.
I also like to give VT Artisan Coffee with coffee mugs handmade from my friend, Heather Stearns, of Muddy Creek Pottery.... because there is nothing I love better than drinking my morning coffee in one of her mugs.
Sharon Deitz Caroli of The Bee's Knees

Favorite VT go-to holiday drink.....Fresh Apple Cider!  It is sweet, goes with almost anything and is non-alcoholic (unless you want it to be)! 
Adams Apple Orchard

Chef Kali Alvarez from Vermont Works for Women’s FRESH Food enterprise recommends Vermont Brownie Company’s Blondie Brownie. In collaboration with VBC, Chef Kali bakes the Blondie Brownies in the FRESH Food kitchen in Winooski. Support two locally owned, woman run businesses – FRESH Food and Vermont Brownie Company. 
Melissa Corbin of Vermont Works for Women

I give Vermont Pure Maple Syrup as gifts because it is my favorite sweetener. I have it on my Vermont Greek Yogurt or Oatmeal every morning. It is delicious and has so much more character than refined sugars. And Vermont ‘s Maple Syrup is famous around the country so why not spread the wealth!
Irene Maston of Andrie Rose Inn

My favorite Vermont Holiday gift (and also for many other occasions) is Vermont Fresh ravioli and/or pasta and Vermont Fresh sauce to go with it! I love to give this gift because it is always much appreciated and comes with a big thank you! It is a very quick and easy dinner especially during the busy holidays!  Our fresh ravioli only take a few minutes to cook, heat the sauce...mix them together...and presto, a fresh, all natural Vermont dinner! 
Tricia of Vermont Fresh Pasta 

We always send a jar of woods cider jelly, but also have a new item we are featuring in our gift basket from Blake Hill Preserves from Grafton.
Chef Jason Tostrup of the Inn at Weathersfield

I have so many products (over 700!) that is it hard to select just one. However, we just brought on a new producer-partner that is already receiving national attention. Blake Hill Preserves- Even Bobby Flay is a fan!
Bonnie Kelsey, President of Best of Vermont, LLC

(Blake Hill Owner, Vicky is offering  a custom Preserves Gift Bag containing four artisanal preserves-- a perfect gift.)

The holidays aren't complete without cozying up with a cup of Lake Champlain Chocolates Aztec spicy hot coco mix - we add it to our brownie batter and our fondues too! Makes a great hostess and holiday gift with a mug thrown in!
Lisa Rubin of The Farmhouse Catering Co.

I give quarts of delicious and Creamy Egg Nog in glass quart milk bottles from Strafford Organic Creamery & Quarts of VT Organic Maple Syrup in Glass Quart Jars from Kingdom Mountain Maple. Who doesn't love these two VT favorites for holiday traditions? My employees here at CVU work tremendously hard to serve the students the best VT local products we can offer, and my employees deserve to be rewarded with the same great products for their hard work.
Leo LaForce of Champlain Valley Union High School

I generally make a few products and package them for gifts which we sell year round from Ariel's small retail store, in the sitting area of our restaurant.  The gift products that I've been making are:  Lee's A-Maize-Ing Turtles (dark chocolate dipped salted caramel with artisan corn-nuts- gluten free) which I sell in 8oz. packages for $15.00; Toasted Pistachio Biscotti and Finkerman's Original BBQ Sauce.  We also have a well-curated selection of Vt. food related products for sale, especially products made by members of our Floating Bridge Food and Farms Coop, including several flavors of Fat Toad Farm Goat Caramel and Brookfield Bees honey, syrup, candles and soap.  We also love Jeff Tracy's artisanal cutting boards and the amazing linen aprons from Anichini in Tunbridge, both of which are for sale here. 
Chef Lee Duberman of Ariel’s Restaurant

Homemade with Love and Vermont Grown Ingredients

Preserves are always a great gift, and you can make it in advance when all of the wonderful local fruits are in season.
Local Herb infused vinegars are also a nice gift because they are really attractive and you can use whatever you have in season.
Laura Kloeti of Michael’s on the Hill

The Lodge at Otter Creek is giving to our residents and friends a couple of items, one being a freshly baked in house miniature pumpkin bread. Ingredients for the bread include pumpkin grown at Bill Scott's Ferrisburgh farm, Maple Meadows Farm eggs, King Arthur flour, Monument Farms milk and Cabot butter.
George Schreck of Lodge at Otter Creek

I am pretty bad about being able to give out gifts that I can make (pies and the like), mostly due to the fact that it is always super busy at work around the holidays (and of course, because I wait till the last minute). The one thing that is always in great supply is jars of Tomato Jam. All summer long I am asking the farmers for "seconds", which make perfect Jam. I attached (below) the recipe I have been using for years. It's great with soft cheeses, cheddar biscuits for breakfast, and even cheese cake or ice cream!

Tomato Jam: This tomato jam is a truly useful condiment to have around the house. We use it as is on our Vermont Cheese boards, and it lends itself especially to creamy, brie-like cheeses. Adding some chili powder and a hint of clove makes this little sauce stand up to flavorful meats, and adding dijon mustard will make it even heartier. Play with it and you’ll find your favorite incarnation!


  • 6 cups tomatoes – Peeled, seeded, diced and drained of excess liquid
  • 3 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 lemon’s zest and juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive (stainless steel or glass) pot over medium to low heat, stirring to prevent scorching. Cook for 1 hour or until mixture thickens.
  2. Transfer to sterile Mason jars and process in boiling water for 10 minutes (please be careful to follow proper canning technique and procedures). Alternatively, allow to cool and store in a tightly closing container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Chef Charlie Menard of Inn at the Round Barn/Cooking from the Heart

Where do I start with holiday favorites! But here are some that I love:
Cookie Platters: Mexican Wedding Cookies, Thumbprints, Buckeyes, Gingersnaps, Peppermint Brownies, just to name a few!  
Pies: Apple, Pumpkin, Maple Cream, Chocolate Cream, Keylime, plus many more! I love Champlain Orchards and all the wonderful apples they supply me so I can make lots of Apple Pies!!!!
Wonderful homemade bread, Cinnamon Rolls, and Maple Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.
On the savory side: Spinach Balls, Homemade Crackers, Homemade Hummus and Naan, Mango Black Bean Chutney in Won Ton Cups!
Kelly Murphy of Lewis Creek Catering LLC.

My wife and I give our friends and family foods from our garden that we have preserved. We started doing this because we didn't have enough money to buy them gifts, but it became such a favorite that we continued to do so. These usually include canned tomato sauce, fruit jams (we buy the fruit from Adam's berry farm), and pickles. We make a large variety of pickles and give them to family members based on their preference. For example, my mom loves pickled beets and Meredith's grandparents like bread and butter pickles.
Meredith has also made dried herb wreaths out of herbs from our garden. They are decorative and useful, however our mothers couldn't bring themselves to use the herbs because they like the wreaths so much.
Whenever we're fortunate enough to travel to NC for Christmas I make her father's family a meal as their gift. I usually make some sort of stuffed pasta, but I make enough to freeze a dinner's worth so that they can make homemade ravioli for themselves too. Frozen homemade pasta paired with a can of home grown tomato sauce is usually a very well received gift.
Sometimes I like to give my parents a culinary gift that I know they will appreciate, but would never spend the money on for themselves like really good olive oil or a bottle of 20 year old port.
Another idea (not one I've tried) could be a homemade herb or spice blend with a recipe that calls for that blend attached. Infused olive oil is kind of hokey, but I imagine there are some who'd appreciate it.
Phillip Clayton of The Farmhouse Group

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