Savings Tip (Dec. 1): Make pasta in the microwave

You don't have to leave the area or break the bank to find great holiday gifts. Local shops offer a variety of items for less than $20. The Bee sought out budget-friendly, original gift ideas from area merchants.

Name of the store: The Dented Chef

Item: The Fasta Pasta Maker

Price: $15.99

Description: This gadget cooks small amounts of pasta in the microwave, store owner Judi Rackley said. Pasta goes from start to finish in 16 minutes, and won't boil over, said Rackley, who's used it herself. "It's easy. And people want easy."

This is a perfect gift for: Single people or couples, college students. "Anybody that's tired, home from work and wants some pasta and doesn't want to get out 14 pans," said Rackley.

About the store: The Dented Chef, opened in July 1997 as a restaurant supply salvage store, serves restaurateurs and food enthusiasts who like to cook at home.

Pertinent info: 1018 13th St., Modesto, open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 238-3688 or

Got some creative, low-cost gift ideas of your own? Send them to We'll post them at