Posted by: Kath Usitalo | December 13, 2011

Classy Gifts For Food Lovers

Give a gift of heritage cooking with Bygone Basics

Another in a series about Christmas Gift ideas from the Great Lakes State.

Still working on your Christmas shopping list? Better get cooking!

Whether your special someone is a gourmand or can barely boil water, consider wrapping up a gift of a cooking or baking learning experience.  There are classes for all levels and interests, and you may decide to double the pleasure by joining in on the fun.

Last year I wrote about Bygone Basics, a wonderful program located in the home of Valerie Hanson, who is doing her best to keep alive heritage home arts like bread baking, home canning, and making jam.

With Bygone Basics I learned to make the perfect apple pie

When I spent a day learning to can tomatoes and bake a perfect apple pie Valerie lived in Whitehall, about mid-Mitten near the Lake Michigan shore.

She’s since moved to neighboring Montague, and I imagine the Bygone Basics experience is that much more memorable in the kitchen of her historic 1874 home.

Valerie tailors each session to the interest and experience of the participants. It’s a personal and hands on approach taught by a patient mother of 8. This would be a fun gift for families, couples, and small groups of friends.

Check out my December 2010 blog post and story in the Chicago Sun-Times about Bygone Basics.

Zingerman’s, the legendary more-than-just-a-deli in Ann Arbor, offers 2- and 4-day BAKE!-cations and individual classes ranging from “Baking with Beer” and “Hungarian Coffeehouse Tortes” to family friendly pizza-making sessions.  They usually sell out, so plan well ahead.

If you’re lucky the grateful gift recipient will share the bounty of his/her newfound skills with the gift giver.


November 28: Birth of a New Tradition

November 30: Ahoy There! 

December 1: For Great Lakers with Good Taste

December 6: Doggone Good Cherry Treats

December 12: Agate Art

At her Bygone Basics classes Valerie Hanson (center) takes the mystery out of kitchen traditions like canning tomatoes



  1. Thank you for including Bygone Basics in the wonderful series on buying Michigan. I have a wonderful note from a young 20 something woman that the gift of a day at Bygone Basics with her dad, mother and sisters was the best gift she’d ever received. We are so blessed to be a part of such memories.

  2. Sounds like some good ideas. Thank you, Kath! (And Merry Christmas…)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: