Saturday, December 14, 2013

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - a little more on giving food related gifts

It looks like Christmas at my house!
I have nothing really new this morning, just a little reminder that gifts of food and emergency items can be a very good thing.  We had a short term power outage recently and I was thinking how handy my inexpensive flashlight I keep in the coat closet was.

The thought crossed my mind that "a dollar flashlight is better than nothing in an emergency". What ummm.... deep thinking.

Actually, I am giving a very good flashlight as a gift this year to one who had no flashlight when I was at their home and one was needed.  I gave them the flashlight I carried in my purse just so they would have one!  That same person is receiving a few emergency supplies for their car for Christmas as they are on the road quite often in bad weather.

I also want to send out a reminder that if you have loved ones on a very fixed income (for instance... grandparents or single mothers), they would most likely love a gift card to their grocery store, a national store such as Target, or a favorite restaurant. If they shop through Amazon at all... an Amazon gift card is absolutely amazing.  And if they have e-mail and they live far away, how simple it is to send them a gift card online!

When you are working full time and bringing in a regular income, it is difficult to imagine that someone would appreciate a gift card to a grocery store, a gas station, or anything so practical.  I cringed last year when I was watching a TV program where the "expert" put down the giving of gift cards, saying she had a tendency to set them aside and lose them. Obviously this young woman has never had to count her pennies!

Even those on a slightly tight budget usually appreciates such a gift.  I was talking to a friend recently who told me she loved getting such gifts because her family's income has to go to necessities.  It is truly a gift for her to have the freedom to do a little shopping.  Her husband has worked at the same place for more than a decade but his salary is modest.

Here are some gifts I am making this year:

I put together a few jars of favorite hard-to-find spice mixtures such as sumac and garam masala (the latter a delicious blend used in Indian cooking).

I can only find sumac at the Asian food store but a couple grocery stores carry the small bags of garam masala.  Both are quite inexpensive when purchased this way.

I have researched sumac since buying the bag for only a couple recipes and found out it is used a great deal by various chefs for its' citrus-y flavor.  I not only have it in a jar but I placed some in a shaker for when I want to sprinkle it over hummus.

My favorite herbs from my garden were dried for herbal teas and baking.  This is simply lemon verbena in a jelly jar.  My husband only uses Bonne Maman and we save all the jars.

I made a small batch of this cinnamon maple butter for gifts this year.  It is delicious!  It is not only good on toast and biscuits but it would be wonderful on baked sweet potatoes and squash.

The recipe is on one of Elizabeth Foss' blog posts, just scroll down and you will find it... hereNote:  This is a different link than I gave here last time to her blog for recipes.

This afternoon I will be making a few batches of shortbread in this delightful Christmas-y mold.  I purchased some course sugar at the gourmet shop a few months ago with this recipe in mind.

I sprinkle it over the "warm from the oven" cookies and press in ever so gently so it sticks.  Of course, shortbread and sugar cookies not made in molds would have a sprinkle before going into the oven.  :)

Sooo... nothing really new or exciting but hopefully will spark a few ideas. And do check out that recipe on Elizabeth's blog for the cinnamon maple butter!  Yum...


Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

It does look like a snowy Christmas at your home! It pouring rain here which hopefully won't translate into an ice storm tomorrow!

Great ideas as always! I personally have always loved receiving a GC. I know several people who don't like them as they consider them impersonal gifts. Not me!

suzanne said...

Brenda, I am very envious of your snowy scenery. Regarding gift cards, I have never understood people who "poo-poo" them as gifts. To me, they are wonderful very useful. And yes, if you are on a budget (aren't most people these days?)receiving a gift card to a grocery store, or a retail store is like receiving an extra surprise. Can't wait to try the recipe for cinnamon maple butter. That sounds right up my husband's alley!

Deborah Montgomery said...

Homemade gifts are such special treats -- my sister sends us cookies and fudge every year, and we always look forward to her package. It always seems to come on a snowy afternoon when I'm sitting down for a cup of tea!

The idea of packaging up special hard-to-find spices is a great idea!

Vee said...

That pan is very darling! What a great way to bake up shortbread. Some of us don't know how the rest of us live. That could be the title of a great post. Ha!
The cinnamon maple butter sounds delicious and so I'm off to see how to do that. Your snow certainly does make things look merry and bright!

Unknown said...

My youngest son age 20 is receiving a Target card this year. He's three hours from our home and fridge for the first time :) He can buy groceries or a video game, but I know he can use it.

Is it difficult to remove the shortbread from the stoneware molds> I've wondered about them. So pretty!

Unknown said...

Sorry, I didn't know if the first comment went through. I am a computer-ninny at times!

Anonymous said...

I made your Christmas jam recipe last week to give away. It's wonderful, and I thank you for it.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

These are such good ideas! I love thinking of lovely gifts like this, even on a budget!

I am going to try my hand at making a homemade body scrub this year for some gifts. I've seen many easy recipes around the web.

We love gift cards around here! I've been asking for one to B&N! I love books but don't always have the budget for new ones! I have a few tea shop mysteries that I haven't read!


Little Penpen said...

Your Christmas house is lovely... yay, snow! I love the consumable gift idea. The older I get, the more I appreciate these...not so much that I 'need' them at this point in my life, but it's nice to use it up and not have another 'trinket' to dust. LOL said...

Our house/snow scene looks almost like yours! The snow stuck to the trees and branches, it's just so beautiful. I did manage to get a few good pictures that I hope to enlarge and display...just from my little point and shoot camera.