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