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Gifts From the Kitchen
Posted By Jessica Harlan On December 22, 2009 @ 2:56 pm In Green Living | No Comments
Recently I re-read the entire “Little House ” series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, books that I was enchanted with as a child. As an adult, there were plenty of things I noticed that had escaped me as a child, from the occasional whiffs of prejudice against Native Americans to Ma’s displeasure at her husband’s wanderlust ways.
But most of all, I was struck by Ingalls Wilder’s descriptions of Christmas mornings, when gifts like a fresh orange, a pair of hand-knitted mittens, and a piece of maple-sugar candy would render Laura speechless with delight.
We’ll never return to such simple times, but my Christmas gift budget this year sure has me wishing we could. I don’t think anyone on my gift list would appreciate receiving an orange, but I’m hoping they might like a slightly more impressive food-related gift , such as a sea salt herb blend, a cookie mix, or a box of chocolate truffles…particularly if I made it myself.
A bag of groceries, and materials to make pretty containers and wrappings are all that’s needed to make a batch of homemade goodies. While it’s easy enough to find beautiful little tin, glass and cardboard containers at stores like The Container Store , you can also get even more crafty by finding online resources  to make your own gift bags or boxes, or to find recycled glass or cardboard containers . If you plan ahead, you can even save up glass jars and other appropriate containers throughout the year, soak off the labels, and decorate them with your own labels or fabric glued onto the lid.
Here are a few of my favorite ideas—maybe next year I’ll get even more ambitious:
• Flavor-infused vodka or liqueur  in a beautiful glass bottle with a decorative stopper
• Spiced or candied nuts  in a gift tin or inexpensive gift-wrapped serving dish
• Cake or cookie  mixes, particularly from a family recipe, layered in a jar or a paper bag. To adapt a recipe, just mix together all the dry ingredients, or layer them in a jar, then include measurements and instructions for adding wet ingredients and baking.
• Granola  in a large glass jar with a wooden scoop
• Jams  or preserves…if you have canning equipment
• Spice rubs  in a tin or jar, with recipe ideas
Tune in next week for my recommendations of the best healthy food and cooking books to give as gifts.
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URLs in this post:
 Little House: http://www.littlehousebooks.com/books/
 gift: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/Gaiam-Gift-Guide-Something-for-Everyone-on-Your-List.html
 The Container Store: http://www.containerstore.com/browse/index.jhtml;jsessionid=MFNZZL1WPZVG1QFIAILSM5GAVABBQJVC?CATID=62522
 online resources: http://www.eco-artware.com/crafts/crafts_11_02.php
 recycled glass or cardboard containers: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/index2.html
 chocolate truffles: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Chocolate-Truffles
 Herbed Sea Salt recipe: http://www.lime.com/blog/jessicaharlan/2007/12/12/herbed_sea_salt
 researching ideas: http://life.gaiam.com/gaiam/p/Top-10-Green-Gift-Wrap-Ideas.html
 recipes and ideas: http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=535537
 online: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/344299
 liqueur: http://www.edining.ca/viewarticle.asp?ID=132
 nuts: http://www.giftsfromyourkitchen.com/nuts/nuts.html
 cookie: http://www.ehow.com/how_2134762_chocolate-cookie-mix-jar.html
 Granola: http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/ah_recipes_snacks/article/0,,HGTV_3196_1380914,00.html
 Jams: http://www.pickyourown.org/jam.htm
 Spice rubs: http://www.budget101.com/seasoning_mixes.htm
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