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Pam R

Food Gifts

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Food, in many different forms, makes a great gift.

A couple of weeks ago a basket of fruits, cheeses, crackers and a large assortment of sweets was delivered to my house. It was a gift from a very generous and wonderful customer for the Jewish New Year. When we moved our business this year, another basket arrived full of interesting coffees and flavourings, chocolates and cookies.

A couple of birthday gifts that I have received and love included a cookbook stand, a mortar and pestle and a cute measuring spoon set for a dash a pinch and a smidge.

Friends who go on vacation bring little treats - macadamia nuts from Australia and Hawaii, chocolates from Israel, dates from California.

Gift certificates to hoity toity restaurants or cookware stores are common gifts in these parts.

I reciprocate in kind.

I've been thinking of putting togther some 'food giftware' to sell in my shop lately. Dry cookie ingredients with a recipe in a cute jar, ditto for soups. Maybe a kosher Japanese starter kit. Of course the standard baskets.

What are some of your favorite food gifts to give and receive?

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Many of the ones you mentioned are favorites. Additionally (and not food but food-related) is the www.heifer.org where you can donate a heifer in someone's name and it will have a good ripple affect in a community. A business associate did that for me and I thought it was quite nice.

Let's see...also homemade versions of Bailey's Irish Cream, Kahlua or Amaretto seem to be popular.

A variety of cookie cutters and rings of various sizes can be tied together with a ribbon, used as an ornament immediately, then used to bake or create vertical platings after the holidaze. I once received a Butter Bell and, while I would not have purchased one myself, I have enjoyed it.

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We do cookies, cookies, and more cookies. Each one has a twist to it so it isn't your regular chocolate chip or oatmeal. I sometimes give home made jams but didn't make any this year.

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I once received a Butter Bell and, while I would not have purchased one myself, I have enjoyed it.

That's one of the best things about gifts - they are often things you don't buy for yourself. :smile:

BarbaraY, how could I have left cookies off the list? Something homemade is a great gift.

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I wait with sweet anticipation every year for a jar of thyme flower honey from Cyprus, a treat friends bring back after visiting relatives there. There's nothing like it, except eggs from same friends flock of exotic chickens.

When a friend or relative asks what I would like for a birthday or Christmas, the answer is always food. A truffle oil, good chocolate, a selection of cheeses, a good bottle of wine, I'm so happy with any food item really.

I tend to reciprocate this way as well. An ace cheese grater with a great piece of reggiano impressed the hell out of my mother-in-law one year and since my partner and I travel a great deal, what better gifts to bring than regional food. So much better than a tacky tourist souvenir.

I bring back food from travels as well. My latest was 10 kilos of handharvested, sundried sea salt from the Pacific Coast of Mexico. They made great gifts for my foodie friends.

s

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I give the same two food gifts every year - white chocolate peppermint bark (recipe from epicurious) and Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. People start asking me if I'll be giving them again right after Halloween.

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Shelora - I, like many others, couldn't leave Victoria without a few bags of Murchees tea for people back home.


Edited by Pam R (log)

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I like to give things I make that are somewhat unusual as homemade gifts - candied ginger, glacé fruits, dried fruits, dried sliced shallots, dried sliced garlic, things that most people no longer do at home. Also dried herbs from my garden, bay and/or rosemary and sage wreaths. Tea herbs such as anise hyssop, various mints, sachets made from lavender, costmary (also known as "bible leaf") etc.

I sometimes still make cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, other fresh cheese. Occasionally aged cheeses but no longer as much as I did in years past.

I also make some cakes that keep well, some fruited cakes, a cocoa/fruit cake that is unusual and tasty.

I used to make a lot of cookies but not this year.

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For the holidays, I bake cookies and make up assortments for friends here. For mailing to friends out-of-town, I choose local products such as coffee and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

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I often give cookies as a gift. My friends have been known to raid my freezer in search of cookies. :raz: I also like to give a small bottle of 8 year old balsamic vinegar as a gift.

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Nice Fruit (delivered)/Quick Breads (homemade)

Gift Certificates

SB :smile:

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Bah. Humbug.

I too used to make lots of food gifts: chocolate truffles, biscotti, spiced nuts, etc. But I stopped doing it, in part because, well, I got a lot of real crap back. (Yes, not acting in the spirit of the season, I know.)

Hillshire Farms smoked sausages. Baskets with "gourmet" sugared almonds. Bizarre bottles overstuffed with cheap vinegar and hot peppers. "Homestyle" pancake mixes ("just add farm-fresh milk and eggs"). Saccharine-laced mustards.

You know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you?

I used to be tormented by guilt when I got such gifts. You know, they were well-intentioned, trying to make the "foodie" happy, blah blah blah. Not any more. Now if someone gives me that sort of thing, I rant, rave, and (in my best imitation of Peter O'Toole as Alan Swann in My Favorite Year) throw a genuine, foot-on-the-floor, snot-nosed hissy fit, ceremoniously tossing the junk in the garbage. Very cathartic. Try it.

Like I said. Bah. Humbug.

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I think the gifts that are most appreciated are those that one would not make or buy for oneself, as mentioned in an earlier post.

Last year when I told my co-workers I was giving out cookies, they just kind of stared at the floor. I think they all get plenty of cookies and other sweets at holiday time. But when I brought them pizelles, they were really excited, and I got lots of thankful feedback.

I'm not sure what all I'm going to do this year. I am surrounded by people who are pretty much meat-and-potatoes types, so I'm going to have to give it some thought.

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My husband, who knows very little in the way of cooking, has bought me All-Clad pans and Henkels knives for recent Christmases, so I'll stick with those as my Christmas wishes. :wub: I can source my specialty ingredients on-line.

I've given home-made fortune cookies as a gift. Very fun to make! Also, spiced nuts. Eh. A bit boring. I prefer to make things that really get me excited. My Mom is a real fiend for chocolate so perhaps I'll make her Ling's brownies this year.

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In years past I've made a lot of vinegars and jams with local berries. This year I decided to do my friends a favor and made liqueurs with those berries - I have raspberry and blueberry liqueurs and blackberry brandy ready to go (if I don't drink them up first!) I also made vin de noix, with green walnuts. I think everyone will be a lot happier to see me coming this year!

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I don't really like most sweets, but I definitely appreciate the thought when they're given to me, and I usually just share with my kids and/or co-workers. I would LOVE to get a bacon of the month or wine of the month club gift, though! Mmm, bacon. Good kitchen utensils are always greatly appreciated, too.

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my rule is unless i ask for something specifically give me either food or wine.

that said i usually ask for recipe cards and champagne flutes. in the past i have asked for whole nutmegs and mixed peppercorns things that are inexpensive enough for those on a limited budget to afford.

johnnybird, being the smart man he is, went to Gary's Wine and Marketplace last year and picked up a mixed case of champagne. each holiday i get one or two of the bottles. he timed it out so he will have to restock after valentine's day 2006. :biggrin:

in the past i have given mother-in-law #1 "dinner with paul newman" - an autographed picture of paul newman, spaghetti, a jar of his sauce, a bottle of his salad dressing and a nice sized bowl to eat the pasta from while looking at his picture.

mother-in-law #3 wanted one of lydia's books so i got her that and picked out several of the recipes and purchased one or two ingredients for them. since i also know she rarely cooks at home i also bought her a jar of rao's and patsy's sauces.

for johnnybird's friends i make fudgy bourbon brownies or tea cakes - cranberry orange, banana, toast dope streusel - or last year was crumb cake. this year i am considering some home concocted spice rubs for my brother-in-law(along with his Bad Kitty calendar), individual frozen soups for my mother-in-law #1's freezer and a copy of the Joslin recipe book along with one or two of the dessert type thingies for mother-in-law #3 since she has developed type-2 diabetes recently. haven't figured out what to do for the guys, yet.

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Bah. Humbug.

Chris,

you obviously have to become better friends with the other people posting here... they give fantastic gifts. :biggrin:

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The best thing someone gave me last year was some pink sea salt from Hawaii plus a couple of herb and spice blends based on Hawaiian salts and some hot sauces, also from Hawaii.

My relatives like to receive those fancy holiday treats from the Williams and Sonoma catalog. Sometimes they (the treats that is) are even marked down right before Christmas. One of my sisters always wants marrons glacees and she gets them if I can find them not too steeply. I also send them selections from The Spice House.

People sometimes send me pears from Harry and David and I have to admit I like them. I realize they are just comice pears but those are not all that easy to find or cheap around here.

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Falling into the "never would go out and buy for myself" category, but super thoughtful: My wife recently got me a knife carrier for our anniversary. It coincided with the classes I'm taking with a few other eGs at a local cooking school. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I've gotten for a long time! And I just got her a cardigan... (Which also coincided with our trip to France, and therefore was also thoughtful, so I hope this reduces the tsk'ing.)

Like many others have stated here, my favourite gifts for giving and receiving are things that you just cannot get wherever you are. I managed to smuggle some saucisson back from said France trip, and gave some to my FIL. He was both horrified (he works for the airline we flew) and appreciative of this gesture.

Similarly, a friend of mine in NYC once gave me a genuine Manhattan deli beef salami that was just excellent. (I've forgotten which deli, just in case you were going to ask.) It truly isn't the cost that counts, but the thought.

Although I am also quite happy to receive truffle oil or 25 year old balsamic or just good old booze.

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I'm not a good gift recipient. I buy whatever I want/need, and rarely have I been given a food related gift that I truely enjoyed. It's usually something that gets put on a back shelf, never to be seen again......

On the other hand, when we entertain, I always bake bread, and bake enough that we have a loaf to give to every guest couple :)

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I used to be tormented by guilt when I got such gifts. You know, they were well-intentioned, trying to make the "foodie" happy, blah blah blah. Not any more. Now if someone gives me that sort of thing, I rant, rave, and (in my best imitation of Peter O'Toole as Alan Swann in My Favorite Year) throw a genuine, foot-on-the-floor, snot-nosed hissy fit, ceremoniously tossing the junk in the garbage. Very cathartic. Try it.

Like I said. Bah. Humbug.

Better than a tantrum might have been to say "my I'm sure the people at work will enjoy these when I put them in the kitchen!" That would be a serious insult to me.

I only have two friends who give me food gifts. They know me well and choose very well. My mother asks very specifically what I want or gives me a gift certificate to the cheese place, or ecookbooks. My husband just tells me to go out and buy what I want, then he puts a bow on it.

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If I get a food gift, it's usually a gift certificate to Sur La Table. My SIL gave my husband and me both gift baskets one year (the year we were all supposed to be giving handmade gifts and I did chocolate and caramel sauces AND threw handmade ceramic bowls for the ice cream :angry: ) with "gourmet" gifts like hot chocolate mix, cans of mini cookies, and the plastic spoons covered in coating chocolate.

The past couple of years I've done the chocolate and caramel sauces, and last year it was all candy, each selection hand-picked based on what I thought the people would like: peppermint bark, sea salt caramels, chocolate candied almonds, pâtes de fruits (5 flavors), nougat de montelimar, candied orange and lemon peel, and English toffee.

And for all that work, what was the most universally preferred treat? The peppermint bark, followed by the caramels. Right. This year it will just be bark and caramels.

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I like to give theme gifts, like a great pair of salad tongs and salad produce from my garden.

Some years I've given my sis, sil, and mom my favorite new kitchen gadget from that year -- for instance, the Le Creuset silicone spatula.

This year, I wish somebody would give me Molly's braising book and a Le Creuset French oven... :-)

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To receive: gift certificates. Barring that, equipment or cookbooks, and as a distant third, spices/salts/other seasonings.

Sadly, most of the "goodies" that people give as holiday gifts are not on our eating plan, so while we might sample a little, most of them are given away or thrown out. (Of course, the person is thanked profusely for their thoughtfulness and wished a very happy holiday.) For those who I'm close to, I usually manage to work it in to our conversations at some less stressful time of the year that while their gift was very thoughtful, we weren't able to make use of it as we might have liked.

To give: tea assortments or nuts. This is only after asking potential recipients or those close to them if they'd appreciate/be able to use such things. I'd rather people were honest with me about it - I'd rather find something they would like than send them stuff they won't use.

Marcia.

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