Okay not so much recipes, but simple ideas for homemade gifts that may involve recipes.
Recently my pal Pamela put up a post up on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog about shopping local this holiday season. A commenter responded wanting to know (paraphrasing) how to shop local while on a Wal-Mart budget, since locally-made items from specialty shops can be pricier that its mass-produced, big-box store counterpart.
This really struck home for me because we always try to give homemade gifts for the bulk of our presents. We're not lavish gift givers anyway, and I suppose when push comes to shove, we give gifts we make as our own personal stand against over doing it during the holidays. It's not like we're against buying anything ever. We like "stuff," but we hate cheap cluttery crap and aren't frivolous. During the holidays our focus is always on family and not spending 'til we're broke. For us, it's a conscious choice to be this way.
I was thinking about how to focus more on giving locally sourced homemade gifts and I realized as I reflect back over the years of gifts that I've made that using local ingredients wouldn't have significantly increased the cost of the item.
For those looking for simple homemade gifts, I'll share my list of things I've made and given, and I'd love it if you shared yours, too!
- Ruby Cordial—A cranberry "liqueur" made with cranberries, sugar and vodka, could be made with Hangar One vodka (recipe calls for raspberries, but I use smashed cranberries, then strain)
- Limoncello—Could be made with local Meyer lemons and Hangar One vodka (I don't use everclear, just vodka)
- Kahlua—Ditto the Hangar One
All of the above were fun to make and give as gifts, but you have to start a month in advance...so start now!
- Bread: I like to give rustic, misshapen loaves of country bread as gifts. Flour would be hard to source locally, but everything else shouldn't be too hard to find.
- Pie: Ditto for the pie. It's one of my favorite gifts to give. Who doesn't love a pie? A pie made with local fruit or nuts + a pint of locally made (or homemade ice cream)? Perfection.
- Pasta: If anyone has a local (SF area) source for 00 flour, please let me know. Pasta is a fun gift to give. You don't even need a machine. Just roll out the dough and cut into thick ribbons (pappardelle) or purposely uneven small "hankerchief-like" shapes.
- Cookies: J. bakes the holiday cookies in our house. They are legendary. Local ingredients: chocolate, dried fruit, eggs, milk, butter.
- Flavored olive oils (lemon, garlic, garlic/rosemary): We're lucky to live in an area where olive oil is made. It wouldn't be too hard to use local herbs and fruits. Note: herb garlic olive oil must be refrigerated (botulism issues)
- Seasoned vinegars (tarragon, herb, garlic): Around these parts, it wouldn't be too difficult to source locally made vinegars and herbs.
- Herbes de Provence: I dislike the medicinal flavor of lavender in most Herbes de Provence mixes so I make my own using dried herbs (and leaving out the lavender pour moi). Local herbs would be easy to find. A cheap and easy gift.
- Tea: Stand in the bulk bin of a good health food store and get inspired by the many tea combinations you can create: chamomile/rose, mint/verbena, the possibilities are endless. A little packet of homemade tea + a strainer and/or a pretty cup and saucer is another cheap and easy gift idea. I just might do this again this year.
- Spice mixes: make your own garam masala or curry mix. Attach recipes using your spice mixes to give the recipient inspiration.
- Flavored sugars: vanilla sugar, easy. Local? Not so much. But still, yum!
There you have it. You can shop local, make some fun and tasty gifts, and not break the bank. Happy gifting!