CBC News

Gifts that keep giving

by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

I'd love to say I bake homemade cookies or lovingly jar jams and jellies over the holidays for my friends and family.

I’m a procrastinator when it comes to presents. The clock is ticking down to Christmas, not to mention various friends’ birthdays, so what to do? Bless e-commerce, is all I have to say.

For gifts of the kitchen — and economical — kind, I turn to Lee Valley Tools, established in 1978 in Ottawa with three employees, and now with stores across the country and a lovely website to boot.

A spurtle is a traditional Scottish stir stick. (Lee Valley Tools)

On top of their woodworking and hardware products, the company has some great ideas for the chef in your life.

You know, those sleek, long microplane zesters TV chefs like to use? The original design came from a rasp tool used to shape wood. Lee Valley sells the graters for $14.50; I’ve seen them in gourmet stores for $22 and up!

The porridge lover may give you eternal thanks for a spurtle that keeps lumps to a minimum.

And a microtorch just might be the gift that keeps on giving: provide a flame that burns at 1300°C; get invited for crème brulee!

If you’re looking for a present that makes more of a difference, check out Kiva, a micro-lending website. It makes small loans to people in developing countries who don’t qualify for traditional bank credit.

You can buy gift certificates in $25 increments on Kiva’s site and allow your recipient to choose who to loan the money to. When the money is paid back, you can withdraw it or lend it to someone else.

Among the entrepreneurs are many restaurateurs and grocery store owners.

Last year, I lent $25 to a farmer in Cambodia to purchase more farmland for rice and vegetables, and $25 to a butcher in Azerbaijan who bought two calves.

They haven’t missed a monthly payment and in a year have repaid 61 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.

Now that’s a gift that truly keeps on giving.

Share your unique holiday gift ideas. What are your favourite presents to give or receive?

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.




I love your suggestions, especially the $25 loans to the farmer in Cambodia and the butcher in Azerbaijan.

A late thankyou for the great ideas.

Posted December 25, 2008 04:42 PM

Dorothy Lefebvre

good day i hope everyone is doing find, what i would like to no is how to make hard candy's , they are xmas candys , they are called pillows candys is there anyone now a better way or any picture to show me please

Posted January 5, 2009 03:36 PM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment


Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Food Bytes »

About the blog

From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

About the writers

Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.


Food features

Recent Posts

Chinese banquet dinner
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Share your Easter recipes
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Ode to the sandwich
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Sweet treats and salty science
Monday, April 6, 2009
Peeking into your kitchen
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Subscribe to Food Bytes


April 2009 (6)
March 2009 (10)
February 2009 (9)
January 2009 (9)
December 2008 (16)
November 2008 (13)
October 2008 (12)
September 2008 (11)
August 2008 (9)
July 2008 (12)
June 2008 (10)
May 2008 (16)


Agriculture (12)
Amber Hildebrandt (22)
Amuse-bouche (32)
Andree Lau (24)
Culture (43)
Elizabeth Bridge (7)
Health (13)
Industry (26)
Jessica Wong (26)
Kevin Yarr (15)
Leigh Felesky (3)
Politics (11)
Tara Kimura (29)
Trends (33)
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

World »

Police shooting: White Missouri officer shoots, kills black man who pulled gun near Ferguson video
The mayor of a St. Louis suburb urged calm Wednesday after a white police officer killed a black 18-year-old who police said pointed a gun at him, reigniting tensions that have lingered since the death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.
Ebola outbreak: CDC monitoring tech for possible exposure
A laboratory technician for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been placed under observation for possible exposure to the deadly Ebola virus due to an apparent mix-up in lab specimens, the Atlanta-based agency says.
Live Santa tracker: Follow St. Nick's journey across the globe with Norad
Santa Claus and his reindeer are making their annual Christmas Eve trip on a sleigh loaded with gifts for boys and girls around the world.
more »

Canada »

Video Green Christmas to greet millions of Canadians video
Christmas Day may be "one of the greenest Christmases we've ever seen" in much of the country, Environment Canada's senior climatologist says.
Edward Greenspan, criminal lawyer and legal pioneer, dead at 70 video
Canadian criminal defence lawyer Edward Greenspan, whose high-profile clientele and impact on helping form the legal system earned him international renown, has died at age 70.
Surrey carjacking suspect facing multiple charges video
A pregnant woman injured during a multi-vehicle carjacking in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday has a cracked pelvis and is in a lot of pain, her husband tells CBC News. A suspect faces multiple charges.
more »

Politics »

Canada's Peace Tower carillon bells mark 1914 Christmas truce
Canada's Peace Tower carillon on Parliament Hill was among carillons in 11 countries that marked the 100th anniversary of the Christmas truce by playing Silent Night on Wednesday afternoon.
John Baird to push for Mohamed Fahmy's release in Cairo next month
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will travel to Egypt next month to push for the release of imprisoned Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
Analysis What should be on the federal leaders' polling wish list?
Each of the federal leaders would like to see some better numbers in the polls this holiday season as they look ahead to an election year. Polls analyst Éric Grenier writes their wish lists for 2015.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

The Interview gets Canadian online release video
The Interview is now available in Canada for rent or purchase online.
Video Top 5 films of 2014 video
Check out our (much agonized over) list of the best movies of the year, and a lengthy addendum of honourable mentions we couldn't bear to leave out.
Jackie Chan says he feels shame for his son's drug charge
Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan said he feels shame for his son, Jaycee Chan, who is charged with sheltering others to use drugs.
more »

Technology & Science »

Smartphone-touchscreen use altering brain activity
Increasing use of smartphone touchscreens is altering brain activity in relation to fingertips, a new study says.
Sun's X-rays captured as image for 1st time by NASA telescope
NASA scientists are excited over what they say is the most sensitive image of the sun ever taken.
How Norad tracks Santa's fabled flight around the globe
Volunteers at the North American Aerospace Defense Command are 'monitoring' Santa Claus as he makes his storybook Christmas Eve flight. Find out more about the 59-year-old program and the people behind it.
more »

Money »

Stock markets, Canadian dollar inch up as Christmas break begins
Major stock indexes in Canada and the U.S. both finish in the green in a shortened trading session before markets wrap up for the Christmas break.
The Interview gets Canadian online release video
The Interview is now available in Canada for rent or purchase online.
Walmart's U.S. website will accept gift cards from other stores
Walmart's U.S. website is testing out a pilot program that will let shoppers trade in gift cards from other retailers and get a gift card that can be used at Walmart instead.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
NHL: Wish list for Canadian teams
With the holiday season upon us, here is a wish list for the seven Canadian NHL teams.
In Depth The team Wayne Gretzky never thought he'd make
Canada's entry for the 1977-78 world junior hockey championship in Montreal was the first time an all-star team represented the country at the event. It included a boy named Wayne Gretzky. He was pretty good.
Video P.K. Subban gives young fans a holiday surprise
Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban gave young Habs fans the surprise of a lifetime as a way to give back for the holidays.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »