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HunterHunted

Gifts: Food, Drink, and Gustatory Adjacent

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Inspired by a request by @DeLurker in the "What's Your Poison?" topic, I thought it might be nice to have a place to regularly talk about consumable gifts we've made or purchased and ask for ideas about gifts.

I've done nearly everything. I've done cookies and brownies, cookie and brownie mixes in mason jars, homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows, jams, homemade cheese and crackers, marinated cheese, preserves, chocolate, candy, home brewed beer, infused alcohol, bitters, cured meats, spice rubs, wine (my homemade wine is always kind of crappy because I start it too late), ove gloves, and gift baskets (pizza night, movie night, spa, tea, brunch, and what have you).

My all time favorite homemade gift was a gift basket with wine, crackers, homemade duck prosciutto, homemade fig salami, some mixed cheeses and tomatoes that I had marinated, and my own recreation of Hum Liqueur.

Lately, I've been pondering this idea of doing slightly upscale instant mac and cheese gifts. You can buy powdered cheese, milk, heavy cream, and butter online or make it yourself with a dehydrator and some maltodextrin. I was thinking a classic cheddar, truffle, and maybe a green chile mac.

Edited by HunterHunted · Reason: I forgot about the Ove Glove. I give a lot of those out as gifts.
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I have been making bitters, cordials, and homemade liqueurs recently so for two of my friends birthdays in August I gave them a calendar and each month they are getting one of them along with a cocktail recipe to use it in. 

Last month was a Raspberry cordial (my bff and I are Anne of Green Gables fans) and this month because of the great tomatoes I made homemade Bloody Mary mix.

Edited by biakbiak
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3 hours ago, biakbiak said:

I have been making bitters, cordials, and homemade liqueurs recently so for two of my friends birthdays in August I gave them a calendar and each month they are getting one of them along with a cocktail recipe to use it in. 

Last month was a Raspberry cordial (my bff and are a Anne of Green Gables fans) and this month because of the great tomatoes I made homemade Bloody Mary mix.

I LOVE the idea of a monthly gift. I'm always futzing around in the kitchen, trying out new recipes, and what not. A monthly gift is a great way to offload my experiments. Though I would never give anything that really didn't seem to work.

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23 hours ago, biakbiak said:

I have been making bitters, cordials, and homemade liqueurs recently so for two of my friends birthdays in August I gave them a calendar and each month they are getting one of them along with a cocktail recipe to use it in. 

Last month was a Raspberry cordial (my bff and I are Anne of Green Gables fans) and this month because of the great tomatoes I made homemade Bloody Mary mix.

That sounds amazing and really thoughtful.    Can we be friends????  I can reciprocate in homemade poundcake and cat pictures. ;-)

It's interesting, I like cooking and baking and taking risks in those areas, but I'm too reserved/nervous to do anything outside my few basic cocktails. 

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On 9/22/2018 at 1:53 AM, biakbiak said:

I have been making bitters, cordials, and homemade liqueurs recently so for two of my friends birthdays in August I gave them a calendar and each month they are getting one of them along with a cocktail recipe to use it in. 

Last month was a Raspberry cordial (my bff and I are Anne of Green Gables fans) and this month because of the great tomatoes I made homemade Bloody Mary mix.

Well, hello, BFF, I didn't know you posted here.  LOL.  Anne and the raspberry cordial is my 2nd favorite Anne storyline.  (Next to the mouse in the pudding sauce, lolololol.)

My friend and I do a "candy factory" every December for Christmas gifts for those folks that you don't want to spend a lot of money on, but feel an obligation to give them something thoughtful.  We do toffee, caramels, a peanut butter crunch, truffles-hazelnut, raspberry, and amaretto.  We will also sometimes throw in some chocolate covered pretzels or cookies or something else if we have the time and inclination. 

I've thought about doing infused olive oil and vinegar sets for friends, maybe using their favorite flavors or combinations to make a vinaigrette or whatever.  Anyone with experience in that?

I make loads of jam in the summer to give as hostess gifts.  The favorite of friends is my freezer strawberry jam, which is absolutely divine.  I love my Apricot Habanero jam, which is the ultimate topper for soft cheeses on a charcuterie board.  It's particularly beautiful with brie, but works with goat cheese and other milder soft cheeses.

I also make pickles for gifts, when I can get pickling cucumbers since my mom's cancer has kind of put an end to her vegetable garden.  English cucumbers are not good enough!  Relish is fairly easy to make, since I can use zucchini or other vegetables in lieu of cucumbers and there's no difference in the end result.

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My grandmother used to make sweet and spicy squash pickles. My husband loved them. Unfortunately, we didn't find out how she made them before she died. We would have had to be with her during the process, I think, as I doubt she had anything written down, and if she did, she didn't really follow it. She wasn't making them any more for some time before she died, however, but just giving what she still had left.

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14 hours ago, larapu2000 said:

I also make pickles for gifts, when I can get pickling cucumbers since my mom's cancer has kind of put an end to her vegetable garden.  English cucumbers are not good enough! 

Will Persian cucumbers work?  They have my favorite flavor among cucumbers I've had (which are basically the ubiquitous, watery things [bleh], English [good], and Persian [great]), but I don't know what makes a good pickling cucumber.  I eat pickles, I've just never paid attention to what they're made of.

14 hours ago, larapu2000 said:

Relish is fairly easy to make, since I can use zucchini or other vegetables in lieu of cucumbers and there's no difference in the end result.

Boy howdy.  Last summer, a friend used her grandmother's relish recipe to try to make a dent in her zucchini overload, and damned if any of us could tell a difference between it and that made with cucumbers.

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8 hours ago, Bastet said:

Will Persian cucumbers work?  They have my favorite flavor among cucumbers I've had (which are basically the ubiquitous, watery things [bleh], English [good], and Persian [great]), but I don't know what makes a good pickling cucumber.  I eat pickles, I've just never paid attention to what they're made of.

Boy howdy.  Last summer, a friend used her grandmother's relish recipe to try to make a dent in her zucchini overload, and damned if any of us could tell a difference between it and that made with cucumbers.

Persian cucumbers are the closest thing to a pickling cucumber!!  Pickling cucumbers generally have less water content than the "regular" ones and even the English ones.  There is one grocery near me that carries them, but sporadically, and I never know if I'll be able to get 1 cucumber or 25.  

I would love to know someone that grows zucchini and DOESN'T have a zucchini overload.  The earth could be hit by a meteor, and the zucchini plant would still be producing.

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The stores near me (just north of Houston) have just this year started carrying Persian cucumbers on a regular basis.  I can get them at Trader Joes usually and at HEB. 

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On 9/24/2018 at 8:43 AM, larapu2000 said:

I've thought about doing infused olive oil and vinegar sets for friends, maybe using their favorite flavors or combinations to make a vinaigrette or whatever.  Anyone with experience in that?

I've done shrubs and this

https://edibleparadise.com/canning-and-preserving/flavored-vinegars/how-to-make-cherry-balsamic-vinegar/

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On 9/24/2018 at 8:43 AM, larapu2000 said:

Well, hello, BFF, I didn't know you posted here.  LOL.  Anne and the raspberry cordial is my 2nd favorite Anne storyline.  (Next to the mouse in the pudding sauce, lolololol.)

My friend and I do a "candy factory" every December for Christmas gifts for those folks that you don't want to spend a lot of money on, but feel an obligation to give them something thoughtful.  We do toffee, caramels, a peanut butter crunch, truffles-hazelnut, raspberry, and amaretto.  We will also sometimes throw in some chocolate covered pretzels or cookies or something else if we have the time and inclination. 

I've thought about doing infused olive oil and vinegar sets for friends, maybe using their favorite flavors or combinations to make a vinaigrette or whatever.  Anyone with experience in that?

I make loads of jam in the summer to give as hostess gifts.  The favorite of friends is my freezer strawberry jam, which is absolutely divine.  I love my Apricot Habanero jam, which is the ultimate topper for soft cheeses on a charcuterie board.  It's particularly beautiful with brie, but works with goat cheese and other milder soft cheeses.

I also make pickles for gifts, when I can get pickling cucumbers since my mom's cancer has kind of put an end to her vegetable garden.  English cucumbers are not good enough!  Relish is fairly easy to make, since I can use zucchini or other vegetables in lieu of cucumbers and there's no difference in the end result.

@larapu2000, it’s been a year since you posted this comment, so I hope you are still on this board! I wonder if you would please be willing to share your freezer strawberry jam recipe which seems to be a favorite of your friends? I am thinking about gifts for the upcoming season and this sounds wonderful! Thank you!

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14 hours ago, Spunkygal said:

@larapu2000, it’s been a year since you posted this comment, so I hope you are still on this board! I wonder if you would please be willing to share your freezer strawberry jam recipe which seems to be a favorite of your friends? I am thinking about gifts for the upcoming season and this sounds wonderful! Thank you!

Is it disappointing to tell you that it's the Sure Jell recipe from inside the box?  😬😬😬😬

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9 hours ago, larapu2000 said:

Is it disappointing to tell you that it's the Sure Jell recipe from inside the box?  😬😬😬😬

Thank you! I just found it online and am thinking about substituting some Chambord (berry liqueur) for some, not all, of the water. Years ago I purchased the most amazing raspberry jam at Fauchon’s in Paris and the Chambord sent it over the top! 

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39 minutes ago, Mindthinkr said:

I need a hostess gift idea. I’m going to Italy and need to take something to my hosts. They don’t speak a English. Any ideas? 

Is there a really, really good artisan chocolatier in your area? Maybe a box of their truffles? It’ll be hard to top anything they can get in Italy but sharing something from your area would be nice. 

Edited to add...we have one that does a darling chocolate snowman and when you pour hot milk over him, he melts so you have your hot chocolate!

Edited by Spunkygal
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On 10/6/2019 at 7:51 AM, Mindthinkr said:

I need a hostess gift idea. I’m going to Italy and need to take something to my hosts. They don’t speak a English. Any ideas? 

I'd take something that has something to do with your geographic area. I'd take something that has a connection to Annapolis/Chesapeake Bay. Historic Annapolis has a nice gift shop Plus there is a local pottery store that has nice things.

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Just now, chessiegal said:

I'd take something that has something to do with your geographic area. I'd take something that has a connection to Annapolis/Chesapeake Bay. Historic Annapolis has a nice gift shop Plus there is a local pottery store that has nice things.

For the very pious cousin (93 years, but he never misses a day of Mass) I’ve gotten 2 sand dollars. One to break to see the doves and one to keep whole. I’m also getting the postcard with the legend of how they relate to Jesus and will have it translated by my nephew’s wife. It’s the other people that I’m in a quandary over. They are in the 80’s and don’t like Knickknacks (autocorrect changed that...I hope that’s correct) or tea towels. I might just bring them a large bouquet of flowers. I should go to the local museum store and check out what they have. I’m usually so good at this. I don’t understand why I’m flummoxed. 

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On 10/7/2019 at 8:18 PM, Mindthinkr said:

For the very pious cousin (93 years, but he never misses a day of Mass) I’ve gotten 2 sand dollars. One to break to see the doves and one to keep whole. I’m also getting the postcard with the legend of how they relate to Jesus and will have it translated by my nephew’s wife. It’s the other people that I’m in a quandary over. They are in the 80’s and don’t like Knickknacks (autocorrect changed that...I hope that’s correct) or tea towels. I might just bring them a large bouquet of flowers. I should go to the local museum store and check out what they have. I’m usually so good at this. I don’t understand why I’m flummoxed. 

Do they like bourbon?  Good American bourbon is very hard to come by in Europe.  Only the really large brands like JD or Maker's even have a presence there.  A quality boutique bourbon (maybe Blanton's, or something similar?) might be a good pick?

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1 minute ago, larapu2000 said:

Do they like bourbon?  Good American bourbon is very hard to come by in Europe.  Only the really large brands like JD or Maker's even have a presence there.  A quality boutique bourbon (maybe Blanton's, or something similar?) might be a good pick?

That’s a good idea...but nothing I see them as enjoying. Thx for your response. 

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On 10/6/2019 at 6:51 AM, Mindthinkr said:

I need a hostess gift idea. I’m going to Italy and need to take something to my hosts. They don’t speak a English. Any ideas? 

On 10/7/2019 at 7:12 PM, chessiegal said:

I'd take something that has something to do with your geographic area. I'd take something that has a connection to Annapolis/Chesapeake Bay. Historic Annapolis has a nice gift shop Plus there is a local pottery store that has nice things.

Even though I started this topic and this is not a food related gift, Time, Life, and National Geographic have great coffee table books about American geography, National Landmarks, American natural landmarks, American advertising, Route 66, and what have you. I always find those to be really good because they don't have many words, great pictures, and really shows the great geographical diversity, which a lot of foreigners don't really understand.

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2 hours ago, HunterHunted said:

Even though I started this topic and this is not a food related gift, Time, Life, and National Geographic have great coffee table books about American geography, National Landmarks, American natural landmarks, American advertising, Route 66, and what have you. I always find those to be really good because they don't have many words, great pictures, and really shows the great geographical diversity, which a lot of foreigners don't really understand.

Good idea. They’ve never been to the US and by looking at the book they can travel here virtually. I’m thinking about a book of our National Parks. Thanks. 

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My attempt at strawberry freezer jam was not successful. I read every comment on various websites before making it and made sure to drain excess liquid after mashing the fruit. It has a good taste and will be good as strawberry sauce, but that’s not what I wanted.

However, I did have success at another recipe to jar. I signed up for a meal train for neighbors down the street who just had a baby so after watching America’s Test Kitchen recently, I decided to take over banana split fixin’s along with the dinner entree. I just made ATK’s hot fudge sauce and it is SO good and rich (and easy). I am so pleased with it that I’ve decided that for Christmas gifts for the school’s office staff where I volunteer, I am giving them each a jar of hot fudge sauce and a mini pound cake loaf in one of those cute Winterberry mini loaf ceramic pans. I got 4 of the mini loaf pans from Pfaltzgraff’s website for under $30. 

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On the gifts to take to Europe. Everyone suggested that I take something that reflects where I live. They are religious so I got everyone two sand dollars. One to break (to see the 5 doves and the Star of Bethlehem) and one to keep whole. If you aren’t familiar with their legend, google it. It’s interesting. Sorry I can’t do links. 

Edited by Mindthinkr · Reason: It was missing words so that it made sense.
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On 10/6/2019 at 7:51 AM, Mindthinkr said:

I need a hostess gift idea. I’m going to Italy and need to take something to my hosts. They don’t speak a English. Any ideas? 

Don’t forget to be sure you can bring whatever it is, if it’s a food item, in through Customs (or TSA/international airport security) so you don’t lose your gift before it even reaches the intended recipient. Some kinds of foods can’t be brought in through Customs (or TSA/international equivalent). I’m sure you’re a well-traveled person who already knows this, but I didn’t think a reminder would hurt. Apologies if any offense was taken; none was intended.

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On 10/26/2019 at 10:56 AM, Spunkygal said:

My attempt at strawberry freezer jam was not successful. I read every comment on various websites before making it and made sure to drain excess liquid after mashing the fruit. It has a good taste and will be good as strawberry sauce, but that’s not what I wanted.

However, I did have success at another recipe to jar. I signed up for a meal train for neighbors down the street who just had a baby so after watching America’s Test Kitchen recently, I decided to take over banana split fixin’s along with the dinner entree. I just made ATK’s hot fudge sauce and it is SO good and rich (and easy). I am so pleased with it that I’ve decided that for Christmas gifts for the school’s office staff where I volunteer, I am giving them each a jar of hot fudge sauce and a mini pound cake loaf in one of those cute Winterberry mini loaf ceramic pans. I got 4 of the mini loaf pans from Pfaltzgraff’s website for under $30. 

Oh no!!!!  I know that I have had some trouble every few years or so with getting a firm set.  The batch I made 2 years ago was made with berries so sweet and gorgeous that I had to murder the 4 million picnic bugs trying to eat themselves to death, and that jam was PERFECTION.  I do think ripeness is a factor in the internal pectin of berries, so perhaps that was also a contributing factor?

If it makes you feel better, my batch this year was very loose, even with ripe berries.  It's still delicious, and even works on PB sandwiches, but yeah-much looser than the year before and I know the berries were nowhere as good.

If I notice that the jam isn't thickening up enough, I sometimes double dose the pectin.  In case you forgive me and decide to try again, lol.

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22 minutes ago, larapu2000 said:

Oh no!!!!  I know that I have had some trouble every few years or so with getting a firm set.  The batch I made 2 years ago was made with berries so sweet and gorgeous that I had to murder the 4 million picnic bugs trying to eat themselves to death, and that jam was PERFECTION.  I do think ripeness is a factor in the internal pectin of berries, so perhaps that was also a contributing factor?

If it makes you feel better, my batch this year was very loose, even with ripe berries.  It's still delicious, and even works on PB sandwiches, but yeah-much looser than the year before and I know the berries were nowhere as good.

If I notice that the jam isn't thickening up enough, I sometimes double dose the pectin.  In case you forgive me and decide to try again, lol.

Ha! It’s not your fault and I may try again. I did end up doing a double dose of pectin and it is a tasty dessert sauce. I did read several comments of others whose jam didn’t set so I guess it’s just a pectin roulette wheel! 

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