Thursday, November 29, 2007

Homemade Gifts for the Not-so-crafty

There was a conversation over at 4Real today about gift-giving to large families. It seems I have it pretty easy in my family. Most years we don't even see very many folks and Eric's side of the family includes several people who every year claim they are "going very simple" this time around. That never really turns out to be the case especially when it comes to our children who are the only little ones for the time being. In any case, I do see it as permission to keep things simple ourselves which this year is much appreciated.

It is very challenging to find gifts to purchase that are both inexpensive and meaningful. Unless, as is the case with my husband, you are a lover of used books or other second-hand goods. Giving homemade gifts seems like the best route. Homemade gifts show the giver that you appreciate them enough to invest in a thoughtful gift but they do not require a lot of expense (usually) and can help foster a simpler attitude towards Christmas gift-giving. I am not at all crafty and I am wary of giving gifts that ask to be displayed in someone's home. I was waffling on the idea of food gifts until I got a Harry and David catalog in the mail. There are whole industries devoted to food gifts: I guess people like them. I'm a pretty good baker, but baked goods are abundant this time of year. In my search for something original, simple, elegant and healthier-than-average I hit on the idea of "gourmet" spice mixes. I've pulled them from the pages of The Grassfed Gourmet by Shannon Hayes, which is an excellent cookbook. Before I received it as a gift last Christmas our family thought we just didn't like grassfed meats. Every recipe in this book is delightful and I've gotten profuse compliments every time I've served food prepared with these rubs. There are about a dozen spice rub recipes in the book. These four were chosen for variety and because they are a good mix of traditional and adventurous. I'm planning to make enough for about 12 half-cup gifts. I'm able to buy bulk spices at a good price and, before packaging, these will come in at $3.00 per set of four mixes.

Barbecue Spice Rub (pork, beef, chicken)
1/2 c. chili powder
3 T ground black pepper
4 T sugar
3 T coarse salt
2 T paprika

Cumin-Cinnamon Rub (our favorite on beef steaks)
1 1/2 T chili powder
1 1/2 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 1/2 T coarse salt
1 t. sugar
1 t. ground pepper
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cayenne

Garlic-Herb Rub (pork, lamb,veal, venison, goat, beef)
1 T dried thyme
1 T dried rosemary
2 T dried oregano
1 t. ground fennel
2 t. garlic powder
1 1/2 T coarse salt
2 t. ground pepper

Moroccan Spice Rub (pork, lamb)
2 T ground nutmeg
1 T coarse salt
1 T ground ginger
2 t. ground pepper
2 t. ground mace
1 t. ground cinnamon
2 t. ground allspice

Happy gift-giving all!

My series on making my house fair is at an end, I'm afraid. My sister is coming into town tomorrow for some Christmas shopping (ironic given that I don't have any to do!). It's been a good, motivating week, and I'm looking forward to acquiring some much-needed desk organization materials on Saturday so I can get to the bottom of The Basket.


Robyn said...

I love your blog. When you post, I pretend it is a little gift just for me.

don't tell anyone.

Susan said...

Are you kidding, Robyn? Of course it's a gift just for you.

Donna said...

Susan - these are great - I am sending my sister and BIL a gift subscription to Cook's illustrated and I think these will add a more personal touch!

stef said...

Oh, I wish I had seen this before! Spice mixes were on my list of "possible gifts" but I didn't get the chance to get started on them. I'm saving your post for next year! Or maybe for my friends'/families' birthdays/anniversaries. Thanks!