Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Food for Giving

When it comes to gift giving, I often run around like a chicken with its head cut off, looking for the perfect present. Then, after wasting many hours, I decide to make it. A fruit jam, an onion marmalade, a sweet treat—or maybe some combination of these three. The most recent gift I needed was for Jim’s mother (whom I hadn’t yet met) for her eightieth birthday. Clearly it had to be special. Since strawberries are in season, strawberry jam seemed ideal. And since the scones I baked could have been used as hockey pucks, I whipped up a batch of my famous (at least in my family) shortbread. Tucked prettily into tea towels in a bamboo bowl from Vietnam, they made a fetching package.

I don’t know why I ever go to stores looking for “just the right thing.” Any time I give a gift of homemade food, the entire experience is satisfying—the making, the presentation, the giving, and often the sharing. And I always make sure there are leftovers. In this case three extra jars of jam and eight stray pieces of shortbread, which I gave to my dad—who ate all of the shortbread (except half a piece he gave to my mom) and most of a jar of jam in one sitting!

Rather than posting a new recipe (and I do have a couple good ones I’ll soon share), I’m including links below to my favorite recipes for giving as gifts, just in case you need something for a wedding shower, birthday, or simply “I’m glad you’re my friend” present.

The strawberry jam mentioned above is based on the raspberry pear jam recipe that this links to. Just substitute strawberries for the raspberries and pears. I also suggest cutting back on the sugar, depending on how sweet the strawberries are.

This recipe comes from Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking. It’s one of the first foods I learned how to make for myself as an adult after college out in the “real world.” I’m re-reading the book again, and all I have to say is … buy it, read it, remind yourself how easy it can be to be to create happiness in your life. As for the shortbread recipe: this time around I made it in an 8x8 pan and scored it in squares, rather than the wedges suggested in the blog post.

Red Onion Marmalade
For friends who like savory foods, this is a never-fail gift. Served with a sharp, hard cheese, it’s the best appetizer ever!

No comments: