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Gifts for all seasons and reasons

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Gifts for all Seasons or Reasons

Gift giving, in this country, is a social norm...like it or not. We’ve all received gifts for which we have little or no use. Unknowingly, we may have given gifts like this as well. For many of us gifting can be time consuming and expensive. With Christmas approaching, now is the perfect time to get your ’s gifting priorities in order – GivingGrinch style.

Imagine always having the perfect gift – something personal that anyone would appreciate – on hand. I have three gift ideas you can make today, but first the criteria I came up with:

1. Something personal (preferably homemade)
2. Something anyone can use
3. Ability to make and store in bulk
4. Economical to make, but not something others will find cheap
5. Long shelf life

Spices and Rubs
There are tons of spice and rub recipes available on the web. One you can buy at the store is Emeril’s Essence. Instead, make your own and “spice it up” as a gift. Mr. Lagasse provides this recipe on his website, http://www.emerils.com/. Adjust the ratios to make in bulk.

• 5 tablespoons sweet paprika
• 1/4 cup salt
• 1/4 cup garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons onion powder
• 2 tablespoons cayenne
• 2 tablespoons dried oregano
• 2 tablespoons dried thyme

Spice/Rub Shelf life: Dried leafy herb mixes will last 1-3 years, ground or powdered herbs retain freshness up to a year.

Homemade Herb Infused Olive Oil (for drizzling or dipping)

1. Choose your herbs. Popular choices are rosemary, basil, mint, tarragon, thyme or marjoram. Another option, whole garlic.
2. Wash and thoroughly dry the herbs. Slightly tear or bruise the herbs so that they release their aroma and flavors.
3. Heat olive oil over a low flame until warm (not hot). Use a pot or pan with a wide base, like a sauce pan, to evenly warm the oil.
4. Stuff herbs into bottles. A little goes a long way.
5. Pour oil into bottles.
6. Let the bottles sit for a while until cool.
7. Place cork or rubber top on bottle and set in a cool dark place for about a week. If you use garlic, refrigerate the oil to avoid botulism.
8. Strain out herbs or garlic and you’re ready to consume or gift.

Storage: Cool, dark place

Homemade Jam

My family picks berries every year to make jam. I asked my Mom to send me a starter recipe. Here is her No Cook Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe:

1. Measure 1 1/2 cups sugar into bowl.
2. Add contents of one Ball Company Fruit Jell Freezer Jam Pectin pouch (available at large grocery stores)
3. Stir until mixed
4. Crush fruits, 4 cups (crushed) and add to pectin mixture.
5. Stir 3 minutes
6. Ladle jam into clean jars leaving half inch headspace; apply lids.
7. Let stand until thickened (about 30 min.)

Yield: Five 8 ounce jars. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze for longer storage - up to one year.

So there you have it - gifts with personality and utility without tasking your mind or breaking your bank.

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