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Gifts from the kitchen

Prairie Fare: Giving gifts from the kitchen is a fun way to share a little of yourself with others this holiday season

If you prefer the kitchen to the mall, you still have plenty of time to make homemade edible gifts for the people on your list.

Your recipients will appreciate a tasty treat and be touched by the sentiment and creativity you put into their gift. And you get to reminisce about each recipient while you’re creating their delicious gifts.

Here are some ideas and recipes to inspire you.

Baking

You simply cannot go wrong with wrapping up some of your best baked treats. Consider cookies, cakes, breads, loaves or bars that represent something special about you, whether it’s your culture, childhood memory or your family’s favourite shortbread recipe. Last year, I shared one of my family’s Christmas traditions by giving German Stollen to close friends and family. Fellow food blogger, Amanda Cortens gave out some of her delicious Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti (recipe below).

Mixes in a jar

For anyone who enjoys giving or receiving more practical gifts, convenient homemade mixes for everyday use are ideal. Consider hearty soup mixes, seasoning mixes, pancake mixes, granola, cookie or cake mixes, instant oatmeal packages, seasoned rice mixes or dehydrated fruits and veggies. While unwrapping a jar of quinoa veggie soup mix may seem odd on Christmas morning, it’s much appreciated weeks later when it’s served for supper on a cold, busy winter night.

Preserves

Jam, jelly, salsa, chutney or pickled vegetables make ideal gifts for close friends and family who know and trust your commitment to safe canning practices. If the canning process is too much for you, consider making infused vinegar or honey. Neither of these require hot water bathing but still offer beautiful preserves. The lemon ginger-infused honey shown below also doubles as a home remedy for soothing sore throats. A pretty, delicious and helpful gift.

Beverages

Hot or cold, boozy or not, homemade beverages or mixes make excellent gifts for young and old. My young nieces adored their hot cocoa mix in a snowman tower just as much as their dad enjoyed a bottle of cranberry-infused vodka. Mulling spices, chai tea mix or custom blended herbal teas are other quick and easy beverages for gift giving.

Chocolate

Who doesn’t enjoy a little chocolate? While some recipes are super easy (chocolate-covered pretzels), some require a candy thermometer for perfectly tempered chocolate that results in a glossy coating that won’t instantly melt in your hands. Common homemade chocolate gifts include truffles, brownies, filled chocolates, nut clusters, fruit or nut barks, homemade turtles or caramels, fudge or chocolate-dipped cookies.

Nuts and seeds

If you’re looking for more health-conscious edible gifts and soup mixes just aren’t your style, look to nuts and seeds. They’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fibre. Look for trail mix, energy bar, protein ball or spiced nut recipes. Other recipes like nut brittles, chocolate bark with nuts or nut clusters still offer the health benefits of nuts but come with a large dose of sugar.

Once you’ve prepared your favourite recipe, package it in cute jars, boxes or tins with plenty of ribbons and colourful embellishments. For an extra thoughtful touch, attach a personal note saying why the gift recipient is special to you. And of course, always include an ingredient list, storage instructions, best-before dates and further cooking instructions to eliminate any concerns about allergies or how to best enjoy the food.

Have a warm, wonderful holiday season.


Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs (one egg separated)
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 3 candy canes, finely crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and sugar.
  3. Beat one entire egg and one egg yolk.
  4. Add egg and oil to flour mixture. Mix well. Fold in finely crushed candy canes until evenly distributed.
  5. Using well-floured hands, shape dough into a log shape. Transfer to cookie dish and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove biscotti log from oven and let cool completely (half-hour).
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F.
  8. Transfer cooled biscotti log to cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut into equal-size pieces.
  9. Transfer biscotti cookies to an ovenproof wire rack placed on a cookie sheet. Return to oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
  10. Cool completely prior to serving. Serve with coffee or strong English breakfast tea.

Cranberry-Infused Vodka

Ingredients

  • 1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries (or saskatoons, pomegranates, blueberries, cherries)
  • 1 tbsp. orange peel
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 c. vodka

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a clean, sterilized mason jar (boil for 10 min.)
  2. Store in a cool, dark place for 2 to 3 weeks, shaking periodically.
  3. When desired flavour has been reached, strain vodka and pour into sterilized bottles.
  4. Seal, decorate and label.

Hot Cocoa Mix in a Jar

Ingredients

  • c. skim milk powder
  • 1 c. cocoa
  • 1 c. powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Sift together ingredients and mix well to ensure all lumps are removed.
  2. Pour into jars or baggies. Seal and label with directions.

Directions

Mix 3 tablespoons with 1 cup boiling water. Stir well and top with tiny marshmallows.

Makes: 4 cups of mix, approximately 12 mugs.

Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti makes a lovely gift from the kitchen.
photo: Amanda Cortens

About the author

Contributor

Getty Stewart is a professional home economist, speaker and writer from Winnipeg. For more recipes, preserves and kitchen tips, visit www.gettystewart.com.

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