Chocolate Bark, Dressed Up Olives and Poppycock make mouthwatering, personalized gifts this holiday season.
One of my favourite stories, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” has this amazing hunk about Christmas—pure Dr. Seuss genius:
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
If you are looking for ways to reduce the commercial aspect of Christmas, but still want to do something personal, think about making food gifts. The fun thing is that you can make them not only for Christmas but also for birthdays, hostess gifts and other occasions. And it’s easy to find inexpensive baskets, bottles and boxes to gussy up your gifts.
I bet you have lots of similar recipes. Let’s start a collection! Send them along. Here’s a few from my kitchen to yours.
2 packages (16 squares or 500 g) semi-sweet chocolate, melted.
Toppings: dried fruit (raisins, candied peel, cranberries), nuts (pecans, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews)
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Melt chocolate, pour on the paper and spread to about 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle with toppings, pat gently into the chocolate then place in the freezer to set, 20-30 minutes. Break in pieces. Store in a cool, dry place. Package for gifts in wide-mouthed jars or decorative boxes.
4 cups olives, rinsed (can be an assortment)
1/2 C olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 bay leaves
peel of 1/2 orange thinly cut
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
extra oil for filling jars
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Split into four jars. Top up with oil. Refrigerate. Decorate jars with ribbons, flowers or sprig of pine.
3/4 C popping corn and a little oil
large bag of salted peanuts
1 C margarine
1/2 C corn syrup
2 C brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Cook the popcorn and cool. In a pot, boil the following for 5 minutes: margarine, corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Add vanilla and soda and stir. Mix in popcorn and peanuts. Spread on two large cookies sheets and bake in 250 oven for 1 hour. Cook and package in pretty cans or jars.
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 C nuts (any combination of pecan halves, peanuts,
almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Melt butter. Add Worcestershire sauce to butter. Place nuts in 13×9 baking dish. Add butter mixture and mix again. Sprinkle spices over everything and mix again. Bake in 325º oven for 30 minutes, stirring 3-4 times. Cool and package in jars, decorative boxes or cans.
All food photos © Sandra Phinney
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