Tuesday’s Tip: Easy Peasy Holiday Kitchen Preparation Tip #7: Gifts from the Kitchen

December 14,2010
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Growing up my mom’s brothers lived in Columbus, while my mom and her sister lived in Cleveland.  We saw my Aunt D very regularly, and to this day I consider her three children siblings more than cousins.  I loved having this family connection, since our nuclear family was rather small.  

One of my favorite Christmas memories is that each Friday after Thanksgiving, my mom and I, along with with Aunt D, and her two daughters J and K (and later their brother D) would gather to make our annual Christmas chocolates.  This was no simple feat; my mom would go to a little local cake and candy store and gather up chocolate moulds, colored chocolate tubes and small candy gift boxes for our creations.

The five of us would spend hours meticulously painting the inside of chocolate moulds with the colored chocolate, sometimes even using a toothpick to get just the right touch of color for an eye or small detail.  All in all, we would whip out hundreds of chocolate pieces of art and once we were wary from careful creativity, we would dip hundreds more pretzels and sometimes, nuts.

These chocolate gifts were such a joy to share with neighbors and friends.  I can remember new recipients of our confections looking up from an newly open box and asking things like, “you *made* these?!”  There is such fun in making your own Christmas gifts.  That being said, we have not dipped chocolates with my aunt and cousins in years.  As we all slowly moved away to college, and then I to Washington, DC, our chocolate making became more irregular and eventually waned all together.  My hope (mom, are you reading?) is to perhaps start this tradition up with R and G when they get just a wee bit older.

My weekly Easy Peasy Holiday Kitchen Preparation Tip #7 is this:  your time in the kitchen, creating a simple gift, will be greatly appreciated.  Even if you are a beginning chef or baker, there are endless ideas out there for holiday kitchen gifts.  I’ve shared some recipes about this in the past, but here are some quick ideas for holiday kitchen gifts:

Soup Mix (you don’t even have to cook, just measure!)
Dipping Oil
Candied Nuts
Homemade Mustard
Flavored Vinegars
Cheddar Cheese Straws
Muffin/Bread/Cookie Mix
Spice Mix or Rub
Caramel Corn
And of course, Homemade Chocolates!

Most of these gifts are very, very simple to make... you can find various recipes on the internet, recipe books and other websites.

The best thing about a homemade gift is that they can be personalized and won’t break the bank--a great thing this time of year!