Homemade food gifts from your kitchen are the most priceless present you can give to a friend or family member. They are made with tender loving; they bear your own creativity and talents. A simple pound cake or loaf of bread says “welcome” to a new neighbor. Something beautiful with your (very best baking) in mind consoles a shut-in or a new widow.
Your specialty might be in canning garden relishes, jams, jellies or even homemade mincemeat. There is something wonderful about giving these presents to family and friends. Perhaps it is the wonderful smells that fill your kitchen while preparing these. Maybe it is your sense of pride and accomplishment when presenting these presents. These homemade food gifts are items that cannot be purchased making them extra special.
If someone close to you comes down with a bad cold, nothing is more appreciated than a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. You know many say this is a sure cure! When I had my restaurant, customers would come in just to get my homemade chicken noodle soup. One man came in when he was getting a cold, then the following days he came in to take the soup to his family who were sick. He swears the soup heals the cold! NOTE: Try replacing chicken with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving recipes.
A hearty pot of beef stew is one of the best homemade food gifts for someone returning from the hospital. The fresh homemade aroma says “welcome” after a stay in the hospital eating hospital food. With all the vegetables in most of the beef stew recipes it is so healthy. Beef stew is also very convenient to heat up and serve for several meals; a great factor for someone recovering.
In giving homemade food gifts, use your imagination and creativity for special celebration foods. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas. I have given presents of cakes, pies, cookies, carved melons, relish trays and many others. Two presents I remember brought about great excitement and appreciation. One was for a birthday and I gave it to her on her way home from work. I baked a large circular loaf of bread; when it cooled, I stuffed it with meats, cheeses and vegetables. I wrapped in clear wrap with ribbon decorated for her birthday. As she said, it took care of her worries for her family’s dinner.
The other present was for an older woman for Easter. This nice lady was very good to me. She thought for days of some type of Easter bonnet she could make for an annual parade. After much thought she asked me; all I could think of was “food”. I shaped a wide brim hat from bread dough. When it cooled, I attached small butters, jellies and little plastic knife. It turned out so cute! I wrapped it securely in plastic wrap so it still would be edible if she wanted to eat it later. The lady wore the hat in the Easter bonnet parade and won first place.
Think of the presents that you have received. Do you remember anything more outstanding than homemade food gifts from the kitchen of a good cook? Every year I receive a pumpkin roll from a neighbor; it is always delicious. Believe me if she forgets me one year I will be at her door! Another present that I have received was a canning jar of “quick mix” to make pancakes from a family of small children. The pancakes were delicious! I was so impressed with the little girls who prepared the mix, which made the present extra special.
Packaging recipe ingredients in pretty jars for homemade food gifts is a great idea. Measure ingredients carefully and decorate them for the special occasions. You can put several of these packages in pretty baskets for larger gifts. These make great convenient presents for people who like to cook, but usually don’t have time and don’t keep everything in the kitchen. By using a little imagination you can come up with unique gifts. Often they are more economical and the receiver appreciates them more.
STRAWBERRY BREAD RECIPE
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Puree strawberries and pour into small saucepan; heat to boiling for 1 minute and cool.
Cream together until light and fluffy the butter, sugar and eggs.
Combine sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.
Alternately add flour mixture and water to creamed mixture mixing on low speed.
Stir in strawberries and nuts; spread in greased and lightly floured loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour or until pick comes out clean; cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.
GRAPE JAM RECIPE
Wash, drain, stem and measure grapes; press to separate pulp from skins.
Chop skins and boil 20 minutes in just enough water to prevent sticking.
Boil pulp without water until soft; press through sieve of food mill.
Mix pulp, skins, sugar and salt together; boil rapidly almost to jellying stage.
Pour mixture into hot sterilized pint canning jars; seal immediately.
NOTE: Decorate with lid covers or ribbons to give as gifts.
SPICY PEACH BUTTER RECIPE
Bring peeled cut peaches with water to a boil; reduce heat.
Cook over low heat until smooth and turning brown about 4 to 5 hours stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add spices and honey to mixture; cool and press through sieve.
Sterilize small canning jars and lids in boiling water.
Fill jars with peach butter and seal with hot lids immediately.
HOW TO MAKE BEEF STEW
Brown beef in hot oil; add hot water, onion, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, salt, pepper, paprika, allspice and sugar.
Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours; add more water if needed.
Add carrots, potatoes and celery and cook until vegetables are tender.
COOKIE MIX IN A JAR
This recipe of cookie mix in a jar is one of the nicest homemade food gifts. Package it in a nice container decorated for the occasion. Be sure to print out the recipes clearly; punch a hole in one corner of the cards and attach with a ribbon. This is very economical and will be greatly appreciated. You might want to give the entire mixture as a gift or you could divide it up and maybe give enough for two recipes.
Spoon flour lightly into measuring cup and level off with a knife.
Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a very large bowl
Add shortening and mix on medium speed until crumbly.
Place in pretty air tight container for a gift.
Makes about 11 cups of mix; use within 10 to 12 weeks.
NOTE: To mix dip measuring cup in mix and level off.
Making Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 350F degrees; lightly grease cookie sheet.
Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and nuts in a large bowl; mix well.
Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Makes 3 dozen cookies
Making Cereal Cookies
Preheat oven to 350F degrees; lightly grease cookie sheet
Combine mix, butter, milk vanilla and egg in a large bowl; mix well.
Stir in cornflakes, coconut and nuts; shape mixture in 1 inch balls.
Place balls on prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown; cool 1 minute and remove from baking sheet.
Makes 3 dozen.
Making Peanut Butter Cookies
Preheat oven to 375F degrees; lightly grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, butter, vanilla and egg; beat on medium until blended.
Add cookie mix and milk; mix until blended.
Shape mixture into 1 inch balls; place on prepared cookie sheets.
In crisscross pattern flatten balls to about 2 inch diameter.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until set. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
How to Make Chocolate Bars
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In large bowl combine mix, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 to 2 tablespoons milk and egg.
Blend mixture until crumbly; press in bottom of ungreased 9 X 13 inch baking pan.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
Sprinkle hot crust with chocolate chips and spread as they melt.
In medium saucepan combine syrup, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoons milk.
Bring mixture to a boil and boil 1 minute.
Stir butterscotch chips and peanuts into hot mixture; cool slightly.
Spread peanut mixture over base and melted chocolate chips; cool completely.
Cut into 36 bars.