Give the gift of local food from one of the area’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. Buy a share in a local farm and reap the bounty all harvest season. Receive weekly produce at convenient locations. Details vary from program to program, so access the listing of local CSAs on the magazine’s website, edibleomaha.com.
You may find Mallory Finch and Chelsea Taxman of Black Iris Botanicals foraging in Omaha fields and forests for herbs. Calendula, for example, is infused into oils to make their Kiss Stick shades extra nourishing. Locally sourced beeswax and pork tallow make excellent ingredients for beauty products. Subtle perfumes and salves are blended with essential oils. Find selections in Omaha at Paradigm Gardens, Omaha Bicycle Company in Benson, Provisions by Grey Plume and V. Mertz.
Combine tallow from an Elk Creek hog farm, sunflower oil from Ord, Nebraska, recycled grocery bags for labeling and two enterprising guys—that’s Benson Soap Mill. Ryan Cook and Tim Maides turn unwanted kitchen fat from high-end restaurants into fragrant soaps. Their most popular product is the Citrus-Ginger bar, made with blood orange and ginger-grass essential oils. A 4-ounce bar is $5. Buy on their Etsy shop: Etsy.com/Shop/BensonSoapMill.
One-, two- or three-pound bacon-of-the-month programs for the bacon fanatic on your gift list. The Bacon Club uses heritage-bred pork from local farmers and prepares it by traditional dry-curing and cold-smoking over whole locally harvested wood chunks. The result: the kind of bacon your great-grandfather enjoyed. “Best you’ve ever had or your money back,” says Cure Cooking owner Chad Lebo. Can be shipped nationally and available for pick up in Omaha. Find current pricing at the website: CureCooking.com/omaha-bacon-club.
Manly man stuff
When a man says “no more” to razors and grows a beard, he deserves beard oil to make his beard smooth, soft and easy to manage, according to Jeremiah Picard, who developed Captain Bullfrog’s Beard Oil. Various scents including Mountain Man, Buck Naked and City Slicker are available in 1-ounce amber bottles at Open Harvest and Barbers on Arapahoe in Lincoln, Flying Worm in Omaha and online at CaptainBullfrog.com. Also available at his Etsy shop: Etsy.com/Shop/CaptainBullfrog.
Teeny tiny designs, digitized and transferred to fabric, that’s how Rachel O makes wearable custom fabric in her basement studio in Midtown Omaha. So match your button earrings to your activity and wear pizza or wine or apples or…. Shop online at RachelOs.etsy.com, in Omaha at Dundee Gallery or Curbside Clothing and Tsuru in Lincoln.
Spiced sea salt made with fresh bacon and farmers-market-sourced jalapeños, diced, dried and ground by hand the old-fashioned way with a mortar and pestle. “I only use the real ingredients,” says Omaha resident LeTicia Lester, culinary creator of TishsKitchen, an online shop at Etsy.com/Shop/TishsKitchen. A 4-ounce sealed, reusable tin is $6.95 plus shipping. Check for other flavors including cilantro lime and balsamic vinegar.
Welcome to the second Golden Age of Cocktails. Colonel Jesse’s Small Batch Tonic (in cucumber-ginger and lime-lemongrass flavors, so far) is an all-natural, premium cocktail mixer for an artisanal cocktail worthy of your best gin—or as a quirky nonalcoholic beverage (just add soda water). A base spirit developed by professional bartender Jill Cockson and business partner Aaron Funk is distributed by their Rabbit and Turtle Beverage Corp. Find at Spirit World in Omaha and in Lincoln at Meier’s Cork and Bottle, The Still and N Street Liquor.
For your small batch
Cozy 100% cotton Rabbit Skin Creepers with original screen-printed art and eco-friendly water-based inks are also available from Coffee Diem Dry Goods. Choose a ripe carrot, a sweet beet, “Home Brewed in Small Batches” or “Made from Scratch in Small Batches” sayings, sizes newborn up to 12 months ($15), free local delivery in Omaha. Online ordering at CoffeeDiemDryGoods.com.
In the bag
“Artifact Bag Co. began in my basement with a vintage commercial sewing machine I found on Craigslist,” says artisan Chris Hughes. He fabricates each canvas lunch tote (pictured here), garden tote, briefcase, backpack, apron and more by hand in his Omaha workshop using the finest waxed canvas with awning prints and leather. Now receiving national exposure, each product comes with a lifetime guarantee. Buy at Denim Saloon in Omaha and online at ArtifactBags.com.
“I have the most fun modifying traditional candy recipes to include better ingredients and exciting flavors,” says Alison Clark, chief candymaker for Snowshoe Candy. Starting with a family recipe for classic caramels and locally sourcing ingredients, she now has several one-of-a-kind flavor variations such as coconut curry ginger, hot cocoa, gingerbread and chai spice caramels. Find treats from this seasonal business (October through February) in handcrafted festive wraps at Maud Boutique in Omaha or order online at SnowshoeCandyCo.com.
Drink Local Nebraska
Every time you open a local brew, use a wall-mounted bottle opener ($35) from Coffee Diem Dry Goods made out of reclaimed wood and accented by original artwork (can customize with any state name). Jackie, Micah and Jerry work out of a small shop in Bennington, where they create items to “share a little piece of what we value most: hard work, self-reliance, simplicity and community.” Available at Wallflower Artisan Collective in Omaha and online at CoffeeDiemDryGoods.com