Gifts from your kitchen

A gift from your kitchen is a wonderful way to say thank you. May it be homemade chutney, herbed olive oil or a basket of cookies, these homemade or home-wrapped gifts demonstrate forethought and individual expression. Below are some suggested gifts that not only will please your host or hostess but will be fun for you to pull together.

  1. ROSEMARY OLIVE OIL: Place fresh rosemary sprigs in a decorative glass bottle and pour a good quality olive oil over. Either cork or cap the bottle and tie the top with raffia string.
  2. HOMEMADE MULLING SPICE: Fill a glass jelly jar or decorative tin box with whole cloves, Cinnamon sticks, fresh peeled orange zests and all spice berries. This mulling spice could also Be tied in a bundle with clear cellophane and secured with raffia or ribbon and then placed in a large coffee mug.
  3. CULINARY HERB PLANT: Plant thyme, oregano or any other culinary herb in a decorative or moss covered terracotta pot. Moss can be grown by covering a new clay pot with buttermilk and then placing it in a dark, damp area such as a basement, garage or even a cardboard box that has been covered with a plastic bag for approximately 3 weeks.
  4. HOMEMADE PESTO SAUCE: Present the following recipe in a decorative container on its own or in a basket with other items such as fresh or dried pasta, sundried tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella, olives, assorted salamis and olive oil.
    PESTO SAUCE (1 1/2 cups)
    2 cups fresh basil leaves
    1/2 cup walnuts, pine nuts or almonds
    4 tablespoons capers
    1 cup Parmesan cheese
    2/3 cup olive oil
    Combine in a food processor or blender the basil and nuts until finely chopped. Add capers and cheese to basil-nut mixture and process until thoroughly mixed. Add oil in a steady stream and process until mixture is smooth. Toss with 1 pound of cooked pasta.
  5. CINNAMON SUGAR: Combine ground cinnamon, turbano sugar and cinnamon sticks In a glass jelly or mason jar and tie a pretty grosgrain bow around the lid. Aside from putting on toast, this sugar can be used on oatmeal or even used to garnish or sweeten your cappuccino.
  6. TARRAGON VINEGAR: Place tarragon sprigs in a decorative bottle and cover with red wine vinegar. Cork and store at room temperature for no longer than 4 months.
  7. HONEY MUSTARD: Combine 2 cups Dijon mustard with 1/2 cup honey and season with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon light brown sugar. Blend well and place in a covered container such as a ceramic jar. Refrigerated this mustard which is excellent on ham will keep for a month.
  8. DRIED FRUIT AND NUT BASKET: In a decorative basket, place in groups various nuts and fruits such as dried apple slices, pineapple rings, apricots, pears, papaya wedges, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts. Cover the basket with clear cellophane and secure the ends with a ribbon, raffia or a tassel.
  9. BAKER'S DELIGHT: Fill a decorative basket with cookie cutters, unsweetened cocoa powder, semi sweet chocolate, almond paste, shredded coconut and vanilla beans. Cover the basket with clear cellophane and secure the ends with a ribbon, raffia or a tassel.
  10. EDIBLE FLOWERS: In a decorative pot or planter, present packages of edible flowers seeds such as as nasturtiums, violets, pansies and scented geraniums. Once grown, the petals of these flowers may be mixed in green leaf salads or used as a garnish for plates, serving platters and even such baked goods as cupcakes.
  11. "NO ONE WILL KNOW" GIFTS: There are many food items that may be given as gifts that you can purchase and simply re-pack in a decorative and creative manner. Sweet breads such as banana, carrot and zucchini could be wrapped in a decorative napkin and the ends secured in a knot or by a coordinating ribbon that is tied in a bow. This presentation would also be nice for an interesting round loaf of bread such as olive or even cookies. Baskets and antique tins are also wonderful to fill with such purchased food items as biscotti, cheese straws, peanut brittle, chocolate truffles, marzipan fruit, macaroons, chocolate covered macadamia nuts or yogurt covered pretzels. By using your imagination in the presentation, no one will know or care that the gift was purchased and not made in your kitchen.
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