Bakery treats are nice, but it's easy to empty your wallet with daily—I mean, um, weekly—special treats. Perhaps it's time to try baking at home. Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson's new The Grand Central Baking Book will show you the way. It includes recipes for Grand Central's most popular items, reconfigured for the home kitchen, as well as excellent "workshop" recipes with detailed directions for perfecting complex projects like beautiful birthday cakes (no more lopsided blobs), flaky butter dough (hello, croissants!) and cookie decorating (taming children with sugar?). $19.97. In Good Taste, 231 NW 11th Ave., 248-2015, ingoodtastestore.com.
Think canning fiends need nothing more than another pack of Kerr Mason jars from Bi-Mart? How about a clay replica to show his or her allegiance to preservation? Pigeon Toe Ceramics has crafted a handmade cast Mason jar ornament, perfect to hang on the tree, decorate the mantel, or carry around as a nightlight (wire handle and tea light candle included). $28. Ink & Peat, 3808 N Williams Ave., 282-6688, or pigeontoeceramics.com.
Homemade cheese sounds like an oxymoron. Cheese is one of those things that just magically appears at the grocery store, right? Urban Cheesecraft is changing that mentality with its DIY Cheese Kits. The kits include just about everything you'll need to make cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella, short of the milk. With simple directions and lots of troubleshooting tips, even a cooking newbie can make her own oozy dairy goodness. $23. The Urban Farm Store, 2100 SE Belmont St., 234-7733, urbanfarmstore.com.
Ever walk outside your front door and find yourself faced with a humorously large mushroom-type thing? Is your first thought "Can I eat this?" Check out Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest by University of Washington mushroom experts Steve Trudell and Joe Ammirati first. It contains color photos of, and information for, every possible fungus you could encounter in your backyard, on the hiking trail or at a small liberal-arts college. Get informed, not poisoned. $27.95. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651, powells.com.
You can buy only so many cute aprons. This year, add to your kitchen wardrobe with an awesome rolling pin shirt from Land, the brick-and-mortar version of online handmade gift store buyolympia.com. It's white (all that flour will blend right in) and it's punny ("This is how I roll"). Make all your foodie friends jealous and wear it to your next slow-food event. $14.95. Land, 3925 N Mississippi Ave., 477-5704, landpdx.com.