Ed­i­tor Jane Wrig­glesworth makes a case for home­made and home­grown gifts.

NZ Gardener - Gifts from the Gardens - - Contents -

While most peo­ple’s re­frig­er­a­tors are filled with eggs, milk and other es­sen­tial food­stuffs, mine is chock full of rose­wa­ter and aloe vera gel, cer­tain car­rier and es­sen­tial oils and home­made face creams and cos­met­ics that are free from preser­va­tives. I have a sep­a­rate shelf, too, for seeds – herb, flower and veg­etable seeds col­lected from home­grown plants, and an­other shelf full of home­made jams, chut­neys, pick­les, kom­bucha, kim­chi and one sour­dough cul­ture that’s kept me and my fam­ily in bread heaven for nearly three years now.

It’s the typ­i­cal fridge of a hand­crafter – a con­sum­mate cre­ator of all and sundry. I have long been a hands-on maker – a sewer, a DIYER, a baker, even a can­dle­stick maker, a herbal medicine and nat­u­ral per­fume maker, a pre­server… and of course a gar­dener. What I love best is mak­ing a gift from the heart… that’s also from my own back­yard.

Ob­vi­ously that in­cludes de­li­cious edi­ble treats made us­ing my home­grown har­vests.

My favourite foodie gift of all time is my sugar-free mango chut­ney. I’ve been mak­ing this for sev­eral years now and it al­ways gets rave re­views. The thing is, no one can tell that it has no sugar. I grow ste­via by the bucket-loads, and I have a moun­tain paw­paw, which pro­duces non-stop through­out the year.

The fruit is not par­tic­u­larly palat­able fresh, but cooked it takes on a more agree­able flavour.

(Do you grow your own ste­via? It’s a cinch to grow at home, and for those who think it has noth­ing but an un­pleas­ant af­ter­taste, you can­not de­tect even a hint of ste­via in this recipe. The vine­gar also al­lows for long-last­ing preser­va­tion.)

For my sugar-free mango chut­ney you need:

• 500g moun­tain paw­paw (or use mango) • 400g to­ma­toes, peeled and chopped (or use tinned to­ma­toes) • 2 onions, chopped • ½ cup raisins • 2 cloves gar­lic, finely chopped • 1 tea­spoon finely chopped fresh gin­ger • 1 tea­spoon salt

• 1 ta­ble­spoon curry pow­der • 1 ta­ble­spoon raw ste­via pow­der (the pow­dered leaves of dried ste­via) • 1½ cups ap­ple cider vine­gar (can use malt vine­gar) • ½ cup le­mon juice

Mix all in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a non-aluminium bowl. Stand for 12 hours, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Pour into a stain­less steel saucepan and bring to the boil. Re­duce the heat and sim­mer, un­cov­ered, un­til thick (1 – 1½ hours). Pour into ster­ilised jars.

My sec­ond favourite home­grown home­made gift is Thai basil co­conut marinade. It’s de­li­cious for flavour­ing fish or chicken. While it’s not ex­actly a con­ve­nient gift, I like to at­tach this recipe (printed on fancy pa­per) with a kaf­fir lime tree and a packet of Thai basil seeds as a house­warm­ing gift.

For the marinade, you need: • hand­ful Thai basil leaves • 2 kaf­fir lime leaves, roughly chopped

• 2 cloves gar­lic • 1 shal­lot • 2cm piece gin­ger, roughly chopped • 2 ta­ble­spoons fish sauce • 200ml co­conut milk • juice of half lime • 2 tea­spoons ground co­rian­der • ½ tea­spoon chilli flakes.

Place all in­gre­di­ents in a food pro­ces­sor and blend un­til smooth. Use for mar­i­nat­ing fish.

Birthdays, fes­tive and spe­cial oc­ca­sions, and times of “just be­cause” are op­por­tu­ni­ties to present gifts to peo­ple you care about. Take a peek at the fol­low­ing pages and be in­spired to make your own sim­ple and sweet gifts from the heart

– home­made and home­grown.

Birthdays, fes­tive and spe­cial oc­ca­sions and times of “just be­cause” are op­por­tu­ni­ties to present gifts to the peo­ple you care about.

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