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Food Gifts


Pam R
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I love so many of these ideas. I think there are some very lucky people receiving wonderful things from you lot. I hope it's reciprocated!

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 love the idea of making these items youself and giving them as gifts - can I ask how you do the drying? Do you need to buy one of those special drying machines or is there another trick? I've never even thought of making my own dried herbs, candied fruit, etc. but I'm intrigued!

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!

When I was a child my father used to make fruit liqueurs and share them with friends :wub: - they will definately be happy to see you - though I'd guess they'd be happy with the vinegars and jams too.

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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:

I'm not sure I'm off to such a good start...

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.

Erp.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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One of my gift-giving problems is that I have a hard time thinking of non-food gifts. I know there are other choices out there, like toys and music and clothes and books, but I end up thinking about neat gourmet treats and cookbooks and gadgets...I mean anyone can use a microplane, and it is so cool to be able to share with someone who has never tried one before.

A favorite homemade treat for sharing was a jar of a homemade spice rub, tied together with a cedar smoking board, hot mit, and a recipe card. And a microplane with a hunk of Permesan or good chocolate. A salad spinner with tongs and a bottle of homemade vinagrette.

Some of the best gifts on the receiving end include a nice roasting pan to replace the big ugly I had before, and last year when my b.f. bought me a new chef knife, and I bought one for him.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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I love giving food gifts. I give my best friend's parents cake and stuff all the time, for no special reason. :smile: I give cookies and brownies most often, because they are easy to transport. For the holidays, I do fancier plates with several different types of baked goods...I usually gave those to my then-bf's parents. I also give pies, biscotti, and cheesecakes.

This year I plan on adding jars of lemon curd! :smile:

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Well I guess my husband and I are a little bit different than most. We like to send apples from upstate New York. I know the holidays are meant to be indulgent but my in-laws like healthy food, and the gift conveys a local flavor of where we live.

But don't let that stop any of you from sending me your best sweets! :smile:

*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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I'm giving homemade vanilla-bourbon extract. I've already had to shoo the hubby out of the Jack Daniels, cause he wanted to have a 'shot'. I let him smell it to clarify what I was doing and he REALLY wanted a shot of it then....it's either not strong enough or too strong. I hear the scent of vanilla is a real male turn-on, I may have a good thing going here.

I need to put up another bottle!

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I've made and given the Union Square spiced nuts many times over the years. They are always well received.

Last year everyone in the Basilman's family got panetonne from Trader Joe's.

I've also made and given pepperoni bread and spicy olives, that went over well with my sister but not with my brother (not an olive fan - who knew?).

This year we have many, many dried peppers from the garden that we will be packaging up and giving away.

I've done Neuske's a few times, but it can get pricy.

This year I'm giving my bosses Graber's olives, which remind them of playing golf at Augusta.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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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.

Not to stray off-topic but a friend gave me some pink sea salt from HI and I was surprised by how not-salty it was. It wasn't bad or anything...just had to put shovel-fuls in/on food to even notice. How 'bout yours? If anyone else has comments on this, I will open a new thread.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I love so many of these ideas.  I think there are some very lucky people receiving wonderful things from you lot.  I hope it's reciprocated!
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 love the idea of making these items youself and giving them as gifts - can I ask how you do the drying? Do you need to buy one of those special drying machines or is there another trick? I've never even thought of making my own dried herbs, candied fruit, etc. but I'm intrigued!

I have 2 large Excalibur dehydrators but herbs can be dried at room temp or in a very low oven. Some people even dry them in a microwave.

Fruits can also be dried in an oven.

When I was a child, peaches, pears and apples were halved or sliced and dried on the galvanized roof of a shed, covered with screen cloth to keep birds and bugs off. The metal roof would get very hot with the sun shining on it.

Where I live is desert and we get a lot of sun. I often dry tomato slices in the sun on a sheet pan with fine nylon netting stretched over it. They will dry completely in a day when the temps are near 100.

One of my friends, who lives in a tiny studio apartment with a miniscule kitchen, dries fruits and herbs from her landlord's garden, spread on a homemade screen over the tub in her bathroom using a heat lamp suspended about 2 feet over the screen.

I think this is very clever but have never tried it myself. Gail also makes turkey jerky for gifts using this same method.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Well, obviously I bottle Limoncello and give that to good friends. It's a good thing that's easy to make in big batches. I've also given chef friends bags of Fleur de Sel which is always well received. I've given Briggitine Monks Fudge as a gift several times as well as gourmet hot cocoa mixes to chocoholic friends, and that is always appreciated.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I often give food gifts. I have cousins that are constant recipients of my baking experiments- usually cookies and brownies, mainly because I like to bake and I can't eat all that stuff myself.

At the holidays I always make chocolate-coated buttercreams and sugarplums. I make other candies depending on the recipient- pralines, truffles, etc. Also quick breads.

I have made homemade cassis before which people are always intrigued by.

I just started canning for the first time this fall and was surprised at how easy it is.

So far I have jars of homemade pear-raisin chutney and spiced peach jam.

I always appreciate food gifts, though I don't really want people to give me sweets as I always have plenty around the house already. However, I do have a friend who gives me a big box of petit fours from Divine Delights- I love those things.

My favorite food related gift is a cookbook or dinner at a restaurant I couldn't normally afford.

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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.

Not to stray off-topic but a friend gave me some pink sea salt from HI and I was surprised by how not-salty it was. It wasn't bad or anything...just had to put shovel-fuls in/on food to even notice. How 'bout yours? If anyone else has comments on this, I will open a new thread.

Interesting-- just off the top of my head I would say maybe Maldon, which is our default, has more bite to it, but I hadn't thought of the Hawaiian salt being not-salty.

In other salt news, I just acquired some Fumee de Sel as a Christmas gift for a salt-loving relative. It's (surprisingly enough) a smoked salt and I found the flavor quite intriguing on taste test. Not sure what I'd do with it. Hopefully the person who gets it will think of something.

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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.

I think you should put together a basket (using a soup pot as the basket) that includes your cookbook and some of the non-persishable ingredients used in some of the soups. You could have a "chicken noodle soup" basket, a "chocolate soup" basket, etc. I like baskets that include cooking equipment, so if you did cookies mixes, for example, including cookie cutters or a cookie sheet, or using a nice bowl as the basket, is a nice idea, too. For the higher price point baskets, that is...

I once gave someone a sangria basket that included small bottles of all the liqueurs needed, red wine, a carafe, and a recipe. That went over very well, and the carafe was used for years before it broke (and it was always used for sangria!).

And for people like me, I'd love to get a Kosher starter kit. :smile: My parents actually knew a lot about Jewish food, but with the exception of chicken soup with matzoh balls, and the occasional potato pancake, we didn't eat it much.

I also love getting gift certificates for food stores (even Safeway!), fine quality teas (anything from Mariage Freres is always welcome!), cookbooks, etc. I don't really care for restaurant gift certificates, unless they're for places I really like, or have wanted to try. Too many people give certificates to places like the Old Spaghetti Factory or the Keg.

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I have given.. good homemade fruit cake, chocolate truffles, chocolate ganache dessert sauce, and spaghetti dinner kit. I used to give my children's teachers the chocolate sauce and the kids claimed that it brought them a small measure of fame. Lately, I have given nightscotsman's homemade marshmallows. If it needs to be sent, then Minn wild rice and recipes. My gourmet group will get a small bottle of my own vanilla this year.

I like to receive... my sister's black currant jelly, Champagne and really any decent wine, unusual crackers, useful quality kitchen tools ( silicon spatulas, olive wood spoons, linen towels) and cookbooks. I once got some fabulous balsamic vinegar for coaching a team of kids.

Since I am the one with the "foodie" label among my friends, I frequently get offered the odds and ends of their holiday baskets. Now from the friend who does not drink and gets sent unbelievably fine wine, I happily take the hand-me-downs. However, I am amazed at the poor quality of many of the items in those baskets. I remember one pate that was distinctly dog foodish.

Good idea - what about gourmet (kosher? )dog biscuits - there are tons of recipes and and a bottomless market. They are not perishable and easy to package attractively.

What about attractive serving pieces and other dining room accessories rather than kitchen related?

How about " house " spice blends - herb salts, flavored sugars, BBQ rubs. There is a small high quality manufacturer in Minneapolis who has an excellent and distinctive line and ships all over the upper midwest. I don't think customs would get snippy about it. ( My brother ships horse feed from Canada to the US so I know a little about snippy customs officers).

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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.

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.

This is the problem I am running into... I want to make something where people will say "wow! I can't believe you actually made these!" But, my extended family and most of my friends sometimes think the things that I think are perfectly "normal" and exciting, are weird!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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The best unexpected food related present I received was a gift certificate to a local butcher. Awesome. Most if not all the stuff I get nowadays is off a list that I make up and send out. No imagination from anyone I know including family is the reason. I hate doing it but I'd rather get what I would appreciate and use rather than a 6-pack of mustards from around the world.

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I like salty cheesy junk food. When my mother lived with me for the last ten years of her life (which I tend to think of as the lost ten years of my life) she would give me a big can of Pepperidge junk food each Christmas. One year she gave me a big can of popcorn, caramel, cheddar, and butter flavored. .

I asked her, politely, why she had given me a big can of popcorn in three different flavors.

She said "I thought you might like a change".

I said "Mother, I've spent my life determining what I really like, and popcorn got crossed off the list years ago"

Mother, by the way, resisted, detested, and obstructed change whenever it threatened to intrude in her life.

Once when she was going to be hospitalized for a week, and I was still living at home, she gave me a whole list of menus for dinner for the week, and stocked the fridge and freezer so I'd have everything, I needed to cook dinner for my father and myself. Wednesday night dinner was pannbroiled chicken, which I cooked and served with the usual rice, pan gravy, and some green vegetable.

My father barely ate anything.

"What's wrong with your dinner?" I asked.

"I don't like chicken" my father said.

So when Mother came home from the hospital I asked her why she had instructed me to cook chicken for the Wednesday night dinner if Father didn't like chicken.

"Because we always have chicken on Wednesday" she said.

Edited by Arey (log)

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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I have made Irish cream liquers in the past to give as gifts. Cookies, peanut brittle etc.

This year, I'm going to put up big batches of BBQ sauce, bottle it in some nice bottles and give that to close friends.

And I just have a thing about Hickory Farms gift baskets. I give these to all sorts of people.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I have made Irish cream liquers in the past to give as gifts.

How do you stabilise the cream liqueurs? I gather Bailey's uses some sort of seaweed extract to keep it stable at room temperature, but I guess (I hope!) you're not doing that. Or do you just tell people that the liqueurs need to be refridgerated and drunk by a certain date?

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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I love all these ideas for savory gift foods. It's so easy to get overloaded with sweets and baked goods during the holidays, so I've been trying to come up with non-sweet (or if sweet, non-perishable) items I can give.

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I have made Irish cream liquers in the past to give as gifts.

How do you stabilise the cream liqueurs? I gather Bailey's uses some sort of seaweed extract to keep it stable at room temperature, but I guess (I hope!) you're not doing that. Or do you just tell people that the liqueurs need to be refridgerated and drunk by a certain date?

It's been a long time since I made any, but no, I don't recall using any seaweed extract. :biggrin: I bottle it in smaller bottles and I do tell people to refridgerate it and drink it within a month. It's a bit of a pain though and BBQ sauce keeps much longer. :smile:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I think the most successful gift I've given was the dark chocolate loaf cake in Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess. It's a bit like a chocolate-flavoured gingerbread - plain, but moist and good and improves on keeping.

I baked them in these paper cases like these:

http://www.surlatable.com/common/products/...cfm?PRRFNBR=328

then just wrapped in plastic.

Those paper cases are probably my best suggestion for useful gifts - good for making your own gifts or giving as part of a basket, as you can bake right in them and don't need separate pans. There are lots of different shapes I've seen.

Not sure what I'll do this year - liked the pictures of chocolate bark in the new Michael Recchiuti book though...

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