A lot of us give the gift of food all year round.
Planning meals and cooking for family and our friends can be a labour of love. But when it comes to the holidays, I think about giving the gift of food all over again. I'm not really into giving trinkets that collect dust on the shelf or gift certificates that get lost and aren't found again until after they expire.
The part I like best about the holidays is spending time with people I care about, over food of course and surviving the constant threat that my cranberry fizz will eject from my nose from laughing so hard.
So this year, instead of wandering aimlessly around a mall trying to remember where to buy lavender soap, whether or not the generic brand of socks will do and how the heck I find the exit to the department store vortex before I collapse from dehydration, I have a better plan. I am going to do what I love, which is curl up with a cup of tea and a stack of cookbooks. This year my gift to my close friends will be a delicious (I hope!) multi-course dinner party.
For the people I can't fit into my apartment or those who (sadly) live elsewhere, I can still give the gift of food. There are tons of fun edible delights that can be jarred, wrapped, tagged and covered in bows. I love homemade gifts as they seem so personal. The receiver feels warm and fuzzy that something was made especially for them and the gifts are put to good use (i.e. they are consumed shortly after receipt).
Here are some great options for edible inexpensive gift options:
Curried lentil soup in a jar
- Cute little jars of layered soup ingredients look pretty on the shelf and provide a quick and easy nutritious lunch for the lucky recipient. Remember to add a little tag with the directions for the recipe!
Homemade flavoured vinegars
- I love this idea. Making flavoured vinegars is easier than I would like to admit. Fruit and herbs each make delicious options and their vinegars can be used in salads, vegetables and sauces (and it's not a food safety risk like homemade flavoured oils). The bottles look beautiful too!
Customized flavoured coffee
- Adding 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon or the seeds from 3 or 4 vanilla beans to a pound of freshly ground coffee gives a personal touch. Package it in a tightly sealed tin or in a coffee bag with a coated lining to keep the coffee fresh.
Your favourite muffin, cookie or quick bread ingredients in a jar
- Layering the dry (shelf-stable) ingredients for your favourite nutritious baked goods in a clear jar makes a great gift. Use recipes that don't have many liquid ingredients so there isn't a lot for the recipient to add. Try this Best Ever Chocolate Cookies recipe (leave the eggs and butter out of the jar). Include a little label or tag with the recipe on it to attach to the jar. If you want to go the extra mile, tie a wooden spoon to the jar as part of the gift.
- Granola made from oats, dried fruit, raw nuts and a touch of honey is delicious as a topping for yogurt and looks great in a little decorated tin. Using dried cranberries will add a festive flavour to the mix. Remember to store the granola in the fridge.
- Mixing some spices together to create a signature rub for meat is a great gift. Try a cajun or Indian mix for something that evokes that warm feeling during the winter.
I'm always looking for new ideas…what food gifts have you given or received? Share your holiday stories with us!