Show­ing you care

Ed­i­ble gifts are a gen­er­ous way of show­ing your love and ap­pre­ci­a­tion

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

The sea­son of ex­cess has be­gun, wreak­ing its an­nual havoc on our credit cards, stress lev­els and our liv­ers. When it comes to Christ­mas, we all love presents but in­creas­ingly we don’t want stuff we don’t need.

By con­trast, the idea of home­made, sec­ond-hand presents or re-gift­ing has a lot of ap­peal. It’s a great way to em­brace a “less is more” life­style with­out feel­ing like a scrooge.

With this in mind, I’ve com­piled a list of a few home­made gifts that will bring joy and plea­sure to the lives of those you love.

Bak­ing mixes

For a gift that keeps on giv­ing, layer the dry in­gre­di­ents of your favourite bis­cuit, cake or slice into a jar and at­tach a pretty la­bel that ad­vises if any other in­gre­di­ents need to be added to make the recipe. With their mixes of flours, grains and seeds, the in­gre­di­ents for lavosh and other savoury seed crack­ers cre­ate at­trac­tive lay­ers in large jars. If lay­er­ing a sweet bak­ing mix, choose a recipe where you melt but­ter, then mix in the jar of dry in­gre­di­ents, rather than one where you beat the but­ter and eggs first, be­cause for that method the sugar needs to be added separately to the rest of the dry in­gre­di­ents.

Gut good­ness

Make a big batch of kombucha, sauer­kraut or kim­chi, then stick the recipe on a la­bel on the out­side.

Home­made pre­serves

Home­made jams and pre­serves make a nice lit­tle gift and are a per­fect way to say thank you to peo­ple who have helped you over the year. Herb and berry vine­gars are de­li­cious and su­per-sim­ple to make. Put a cup of chopped berries or a cup of herbs, such as tar­ragon or rose­mary, into a clean wine bot­tle, top up with white wine vine­gar and leave to in­fuse for 2-3 weeks (it will keep its flavour for a good year). This time of year is also a great time to make lemon curd, limon­cello and pre­served lemons.

Hol­i­day fridge fix­ings

Of­ten when you’re head­ing to the bush or the bach for the Christ­mas break, it’s hard to ac­cess sup­plies other than the ba­sics from the cor­ner dairy or camp store. If your friend is off on hol­i­day this sum­mer, fill a pretty bot­tle or jar with your favourite vinai­grette or another tasty dress­ing, or make fridge fix­ings, such as tape­nade, chilli jam, peanut sauce, harissa or dukkah. If they’re go­ing off-grid, choose a recipe that doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge.

Herb and salad planter boxes

It’s not too late to fill a lit­tle planter box with seedrais­ing mix and grow basil, rocket or mixed salad green seedlings to take on hol­i­day. For a gift that keeps on giv­ing, add in a packet of seeds for re­plant­ing in the box.

SWEET CHER­RIES IN VANILLA RED WINE SYRUP

Ready in 30 mins Makes 3 medium jars

2 bottles mer­lot (you don’t have to use ex­pen­sive wine)

4 cups sugar

3 cups wa­ter

1 vanilla pod, split, or 2 tsp vanilla ex­tract

2 tsp whole cloves

2.5kg cher­ries or wild cher­ries, stems on

Com­bine wine, sugar, wa­ter, vanilla and cloves in a very large pot and bring to a sim­mer, stir­ring to dis­solve sugar. Sim­mer for 15 min­utes. Add cher­ries and re­turn to the boil. Boil reg­u­lar cher­ries for 12 min­utes or wild cher­ries for 8 min­utes. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 4 weeks or, for longer stor­age, di­vide be­tween ster­ilised jars and cover with syrup to over­flow, re­mov­ing any air bub­bles by run­ning a knife around the in­side of the jars. Seal with ster­ilised lids. They will keep for months in a cool place.

Annabel says: Bottles of these jewel-like cher­ries bring the taste of sum­mer to win­ter desserts.

SWEET CHER­RIES IN VANILLA RED WINE SYRUP

For more gift recipes, see Annabel’s new an­nual A Free Range Life: To­gether, writ­ten with her daugh­ter Rose (Annabel Lang­bein Me­dia, $24.95). It’s avail­able now at Pa­per Plus and all good book­stores and su­per­mar­kets na­tion­wide. Find out more at annabel-lang­bein.com or fol­low Annabel on Face­book and In­sta­gram.

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