Do you struggle to find great gifts?

Well if you do struggle to find great gifts, welcome to the club! Like my grandmother, I’ve never been very good at coming up with thoughtful gift ideas.

But over the years I’ve developed a fail-safe system for choosing gifts for my family and friends. And it really couldn’t be easier.

I do one of two things…

1. I give experiences.
Tickets to events are a favourite but gift vouchers for restaurants or hotels are also great fun. For a more ‘hands on’ gift I love to host a dinner party for the gift recipient(s). They just choose the guests and the time and I take care of everything else.


2. I give the gift of something home made.
Home made gifts are a brilliant way to show you care by giving your loved ones something that you took the time to make just for them. We all know that time is a super valuable resource these days.

As I’ve discovered, home made gifts have many benefits. They tend to be personal and thoughtful. They’re also usually inexpensive. And best of all they are super fun to make.

Here are 3 of my favourite home made gifts

1. BBQ sauce
I’ve been making this super easy sauce for years now and always have a stash in my pantry. Brilliant with sausages, burgers, barbequed meats or anywhere you’d normally use ketchup.

2. Chilli Oil
It may sound ‘fancy’ but basically all you need to do is cook some chillies in oil with a little garlic then pop it in a pretty bottle. Great to drizzle anywhere you need a little rounded chilli warmth. Reminds me I need to make some more soon.

3. BBQ Coffee Rub (recipe below)
A recent addition to my gift giving repertoire, this super simple rub easily gets the most compliments.

Looking for more easy gift ideas?

made with love logo

Well you’re in luck! Doors are now open to the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School for our ‘Made With Love’ class.

In ‘Made With Love’ I’ll show you…

  • How to save money this Christmas by making delicious edible gifts.
  • Over 23 delicious gift ideas.
  • 6 tips for stylish gift wrapping without spending a fortune.
  • How to make edible decorations for your tree and home.
  • PLUS! Each recipe comes with printable recipe cards with suggestions for how to use each gift.

Hurry! DOORS CLOSE 1st Dec 2012.
For more details go to:

BBQ coffee rub

Coffee BBQ rub

Takes about 5 minutes.

I first came across the idea of coffee in a rub at the farmers markets in San Francisco. I wasn’t sure how it would taste, but was very pleasantly surprised. Actually if the truth be told, my Irishman and I became quite addicted to our steaks with coffee rub.

The only problem was that I couldn’t just flit back to the markets on the other side of the world to pick up another jar. So I had to come up with my own recipe.

Even if you aren’t a big coffee fan, it’s worth giving this a try as the flavour is more peppery and smoky BBQ rather than coffee. I’ve included quantities for both a small test batch and a larger ‘gift giving’ batch.

enough for 4 steaks (or 5 cups)
3 tablespoons ground black pepper (240g / 8.5oz)
2 tablespoons ground coffee (140g / 5oz)
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes (40g / 1.5oz)
2 teaspoons fine salt (100g / 3.5oz)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (10g / 0.5oz)

1. Combine ground peppercorns, coffee, chilli flakes, salt and cumin.

2. Store in an airtight container.

Sprinkle the coffee rub over steaks, pork chops or chicken breasts to give an even coating. Grill, pan fry or barbeque as per normal.

If giving as a gift, it’s a good idea to include an ingredients list so your gift recipient will know exactly what they’ve got.

Black pepper, ground coffee, salt, chilli, cumin.

can’t find chilli flakes? – replace with ground chilli powder (if using the teaspoon measurement, decrease the quantity by half).

mild rub – either halve the chilli or just skip it all together.

instant coffee – I haven’t tried it, but I imagine instant coffee would work as well, although it will have a different texture.

video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x

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