Spring 2021 gift guide

Suggestions for those who love to shop, cook and eat!

With each passing year, I find I am getting more requests for gift ideas. As some traditional gifts for weddings or baby showers seem to have fallen out of favour, it appears that many people are eager to provide those they care about with items that are truly useful. I’ve collected up a few ideas that just might fit the bill for any upcoming gifting you may have (even for yourself). If you’re keen on a few more products which we are recommending based on personal testing, please check out the Culinary Gift Guide category on this site for previous roundups.


Reducing one’s environmental footprint by shopping hyper-locally has never been more in vogue than right now, and bringing home the goods is easier than ever thanks to VOOMcart, the very best personal shopping cart from an innovative new Canadian company. Forget your grandma’s bundle buggy – this stylish carrier is lightweight yet super sturdy, easy to manoeuvre and has a huge capacity. There’s no need for shopping bags and it’s easy to separate fragile items from heavier ones. Best of all, the baskets are removable to make it easy to bring your shopping into the house, plus it comes with a cellphone mount and beverage holder. We love that it’s also collapsible for easy storage (or to bring on public transit), as well as being washable. Be forewarned – when you step out with your VOOMcart, you’ll likely to elicit lots of questions and envious comments. Order online at voomcart.com.

Crumb & Co. cookie kits

Perfect for those who love to bake as well as those who wished they love to bake, these cookie kits yield superlative results. Available in regular, gluten-free and vegan versions, there are a dozen different varieties to choose from (with more on the way) and the kits have a three month shelf life. We sampled the sweet and salty cookie kit, with chocolate chips, Skor bits and pretzel pieces; all our taste testers found the cookies to be soft, chewy and dangerously delicious. Instructions are simple; kits make approximately 4 dozen cookies, with the baker only needing to supply butter and eggs (or their vegan equivalents). The company offers free delivery in the Ottawa area and provides shipping across Canada. Order online at crumbandco.ca.

Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker with Tendercrisp Technology

Given how crowded many people’s kitchen cupboards, counters and pantries can be these days, a tool that offers multi-functionality is sure to be appreciated. This one pot wonder does it all – use the pressure cooking settings when speed and tenderizing are your goals, then swap in the crisping lid to give the meal a golden finish. It’s also ideal for air frying, baking, roasting, broiling, and even dehydrating foods for long term storage. We were already fans of the original Ninja Foodi Air Fryer but this product is next-level. It comes with several accessories and a well-written manual. Available at major retailers and ninjakitchen.ca.

Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune

Celebrity Canadian chef Michael Smith’s latest cookbook – his ninth – is bursting with delicious recipes and anecdotes from his world-renowned Prince Edward Island seaside inn. The property’s substantial organic farm inspires how he leverages his culinary knowledge and passion for flavour. Similarly, this book’s impressive collection of recipes and gorgeous photographs gives home cooks a chance to be inspired by the ingredients of the Island and learn how Chef Smith and his team work to pull off the inn’s legendary five-course FireWorks Feasts. Recipes are easy to follow and rely primarily on ingredients which are not too difficult to source at most food retailers. The cookbooks is available at many local booksellers, as well as online book retailers. Visit Penguin Random House Canada for more information.

Mountain Road Foods’ salmon products

This Ottawa Valley company sources from Canadian West Coast fish companies that catch only the best wild caught Pacific Northwest Salmon and follow strict quality control, and sustainable fishing practices. They also use Canadian companies to help produce their line of shelf-stable (for up to 5 years) ready to eat, pouch-packed cold-smoked salmon, candied salmon and candied salmon jerky. Free delivery (order minimum) in the Ottawa and Ottawa Valley regions plus they ship across Canada, the US and the UK. Visit mountainroadfoods.com.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

4 thoughts

  1. I am so intrigued by these air fryers, but i don’t know how they would help me. It seems that they are healthier, and save time. At this point in my life, time is not a factor. And even when my kids were little, and I was extremely busy, I’d bake my own healthy bread rather than buy white crappy bread. I’ll look into your Ninja, though. Thanks for this list!

    1. Like you, time is not an issue for me however I do appreciate tools that make my time in the kitchen a little more efficient. I find the results produced by the Ninja Tendercrisp pressure cooker to be superior to traditional oven baking (my go-to rather than frying or deep frying) and I like that there isn’t a lot of mess to clean up afterwards. So this tool to save time while I patiently craft sourdough loaves that take 60 hours from start to finish. 🙂

  2. perhaps i should already know this but why do people ask you for gift ideas? were/are you a personal shopper? 🙂 have you worked in retail?

    1. Fair question! People in my city and surrounding area who know me through my rules as food editor of Ottawa At Home magazine and as the host of a television cooking show are aware that I am frequently sent products for testing. I believe that is what I get requests for gift suggestions for items related to food and cooking.

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