With the holidays coming up quickly and belts everywhere tightening, it can be hard to come up with great gifts for friends and family… that is, unless you’re a fellow crafty person! Just a few basic ingredients and a little time and effort will produce delicious gifts nearly everyone on your list will love.
For instance, see that elegant cruet of rosemary infused olive oil? If you have a rosemary bush nearby, bottles with firm stoppers or caps, a stove and some olive oil, you’ve got a great gift for the foodie on your list. Just follow the simple instructions at Lulu’s Bites and delight your friends!
Oh, and don’t forget that you can use the same method with a lot of other herbs, too. Thyme? Or maybe even some chili peppers? And citrus zest is a winner, too.
But how about some things that are ready to eat rather than an ingredient for future cooking?
How about homemade truffles? Nearly everyone likes chocolate in some form, and truffles are a lot easier to make than most people realize. The key, as I’m happy to note is firmly stated in this fabulous how-to article at Not Without Salt, is using the best chocolate you can get. Well worth noting: she includes instructions for a white peppermint ganache as well as the traditional chocolate, some handy ideas for further flavorings, and alternate uses for leftover (if you have any!) ganache. Did you ever think about using it to make hot chocolate? That’s an idea that’s going straight to the head of my to do list!
Then again, everyone gives chocolates. Who gives homemade pancake syrup? You can find recipes for five different varieties in this article at Simple Bites. A jar of syrup (I can’t wait to try the molasses cinnamon [pictured above] and the orange honey!), a homemade pancake mix, a few tips on care and handling of the syrup, and a festive ribbon would make a grand gift to the pancake lover in your life.
Of course you can always do what I do for the neighbors. I usually bake a cake, a pie, or a spicy quick bread for each of them. Last year was a delectably gooey ginger cake that I may just have to make again, it was so good.
Then again, the lure of making vanilla extract is tugging at me. All that takes is a pint of vodka, a vanilla bean, and a sharp knife. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise without cutting it entirely in half, put it in the bottle of vodka. Close the lid tightly and store in a cool, dark place for a couple weeks. Voila! Vanilla extract fit for the most important baking project!
Bon appetite, to you and your kin!