Skip to main content

The Manual’s Southern Food Gift Guide

the manuals southern food gift guide grounds and hounds
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Stumped for a great holiday gift? Food is a great alternative for those who already have most everything they want. Okay, we’ll admit, maybe the stereotyped fruit cake won’t win smiles when the gifts are opened, but we’ve found some items that your family and friends will rave about. Even better—you’ll be toasted as the best gift giver of the bunch.

Mimi’s Mountain Mixes

beer bread mixesIf you are headed to a party and need to take a dish, believe it or not there’s a way to create a coffee cake or pan of cornbread by using a clever mix that requires only one additional ingredient—a bottle of your favorite beer.

mimi's mountain mixesMimi’s Mountain Mixes, based in Hendersonville, N.C. produces a delightful variety of mixes. Dump the contents in a bowl and add 12 ounces of your favorite beer, whisk together, and then bake. If you don’t care for beer, you can put in just about any type of carbonated beverage.

There are several varieties: Red Pepper Chili Beer Bread, Old Tavern Original Beer Bread, Italian Herb Beer Bread, and Corn Beer Bread. They also sell a mix for Cinnamon Spice Coffee Cake, Mountain Cocoa Cookies, and Beer Batter, which you can use to fry up chicken, fish, and vegetables (think okra!). Each bag of mix retails for $6.95; a 5-pack sampler sells for $32.

Lord Nut Levington

Lord nutOther peanuts are going to taste a bit bland after you experience the savory flavor combinations produced by Lord Nut Levington. You won’t be able to get enough of these flavors: Spicy Bloody Mary, Hot Buffalo, Zesty Chili Lime, White Cheddar & Jalapeno, and Thai Curry & Lemongrass.

Each 8-ounce tin sells for $4.99, but we recommend stocking up with The Nut Case. Select an assortment of six flavors (any configuration) for $26.99. Shipping on a case order is free.

Barkley’s Mill Stoned Happy Grits

A family-run farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina takes grits to a whole new level. Barkley’s Mill, located on a farm 20 miles north of Asheville, grows gourmet Barkley's Mill_hr_grits 1_heirloom corn, harvests by hand, dries it naturally, and then stone grinds it in small batches to create Stoned Happy Grits. The girts are Gluten-Free Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified.

Three generations of the Barkley clan work side-by-side to produce their product. The grits are packaged on-site and shipped direct to customers. The cost is $21 for a two-pound bag, plus shipping.

The family backs its grits with a 30-day/100% money back guarantee. Try them. We bet you’ll be back for more.

Mad Hectic Oatmeal

Mad Hectic Oatmeal Chocolate RasperryPack some of this oatmeal in a gift basket or delight your overnight holiday guests with a bowl for breakfast. Mad Hectic Oatmeal, based in Houston, Texas, has perfected a really great tasting oatmeal that cooks in just one minute. You won’t see mystery flakes or artificial colorings in these packs. You’ll see real ingredients like whole raspberries, chocolate chips, and almonds.

You can definitely see a difference when you heat up this oatmeal. It seems to puff up much bigger than the ordinary varieties. That’s because the organic oatmeal is combined with protein powder (all-natural, ultrafiltered whey protein that contains NO pesticides, herbicides, rBST growth hormones or antibiotics), and other ingredients like organic flaxseed meal, organic sesame seeds, freeze-dried fruit and tree nuts. Delicious!

Seven varieties to choose from: Just Plain Good, Raspberry Almond, Almond Pecan, Chocolate Raspberry, French Chocolate, Red Raspberry, Strawberry Pecan. The plain retails for $8. Other flavors are $8.50. A custom box of 12 is currently $97.

Steeplechase Toffee

steeplechase toffee

After graduating from the University of Alabama and starting his career in Chicago, Zack Joyce ultimately returned home to Waynesville, N.C., where he’s taken over the 20-year-old Steeplechase Toffee company originally created by his mother, Barbara Joyce.

Decadent is an understatement when it comes to the mouth-watering toffee the Joyces have perfected over the years. Each small batch is hand crafted using the finest ingredients and copper kettles. The toffee is free of additional fillers or any type of preservatives.

The traditional Old English toffee remains the fan favorite, but there are also five other flavors: plain (nut-free with graham cracker crumbs), tropical (cashew and coconut toffee), Butter Mint (white chocolate infused with peppermint extract), Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, apple cider and white chocolate), and Peanut Butter and Chocolate.

There are several different price points for the toffee ranging from $18.75 for a 16-ounce gift box to $52 for a 48-ounce tin.

Grounds & Hounds

If your definition of happy includes starting your day with a great cup of coffee and being greeted by a wagging dog’s tail, then here’s a company you definitely need to know about: Grounds & Hounds.

GH_GiftPack-2014-450x450px_1024x1024You’ll fall in love with the bold flavors of their fair trade, organic, whole bean coffee, but you’ll also be helping your four legged pals. The company donates 20% of its proceeds to no-kill animal rescue organizations.

Bags of whole beans are, on average, nine bucks each. Flavors include Morning Walk Breakfast Blend, Paper & Slippers Blend, Sit & Stay Blend, and Alpha Blend, among others. The Sunrise Rescue Gift Pack is a great way to sample three flavors plus receive a mug and tote—all for $43. 

Marla Milling
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Marla Hardee Milling is a full-time freelance writer living in a place often called the Paris of the South, Sante Fe of the…
The definitive guide to South African cuisine, a diverse food culture
This unique cuisine is something for your taste buds to check out
Bobotie South African dish

The podium for global cuisine is too often hogged by countries like France, Italy, and China. But there are incredible food cultures all over, such as the rainbow nation of South Africa.

Admittedly, many Americans can't name a South African dish. We couldn't pick out bobotie from biltong -- at a restaurant or in general. But in the name of broadening your mind and palate, we are here to change that. South Africa boasts dish after interesting dish, informed by both indigenous communities as well as immigrants and even former rulers.

Read more
The top 7 grilling mistakes, according to a Pitmaster and Food Network champion
This Master of ‘Cue shares what not to do when lighting up the grill this summer
Erica Roby Headshot

As one of the country's leading female pitmasters, Erica Roby is an absolute goddess when it comes to all things barbecue. You may know her as the season 2 winner of Food Network’s “BBQ Brawl,” which earned her the official title “Master of ‘Cue.” In May 2022, Erica also competed at the world-famous Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest. Though it was only her second time competing at this prestigious event, she tied for first place in the brisket category and fourth in the rib division, a journey that was filmed for Food Network’s “BBQ USA."
After her time on “BBQ Brawl,” Erica decided to document the world of barbecue in her award-winning digital series, "The Pit Stop with Blue Smoke Blaire." In the hit show, Erica travels the United States in her RV, interviewing everyone's favorite food personalities and highlighting the passion, struggles, and dreams of pitmasters around America.
As she travels the country, Erica is committed to spreading love through barbecue and works together with Operation BBQ Relief to provide meals to those in need. She also spends her time guest lecturing America's youth, spreading inspiration to pick up tongs and find joy through food and culinary passion. Last year, Blue Smoke Blaire's Barbecue Academy opened its doors to teach the new generation of pitmasters the art of BBQ.
We are thrilled to highlight such an impressive woman who is not only a culinary powerhouse and grilling expert but also has a tremendous passion and heart for spreading so much goodness and inspiration as she travels the country.

Knowing that 96% of Americans are planning to fire up their grills this summer, Roby shared with us the top grilling tips and seven mistakes to avoid a culinary catastrophe.
Starting with complex recipes

Read more
It’s time to learn about bourbon – here’s your guide
Put down the IPA and meet the actual coolest drink in town — bourbon
Bourbon in a glass

Hello, class, and welcome to Bourbon 101. Don't worry; we're not like those other schools where you aren't allowed to drink during class. We're cool. Now, get your notebooks and a glass of whiskey ready because it's time to dive into the history of this American spirit.

It would be hard to find something more American than bourbon, except for maybe a bald eagle draped in an American flag with a baseball and an apple pie clutched in its talons. In any case, the history of bourbon follows the highs and lows of our country, as a whole, with good times, great times, and really bad times. It was built with ingenuity in a time of great hardship and flourished despite the best efforts of outside forces.
What exactly is bourbon?

Read more