Can you believe that it’s that time of year again? I know, me either. And while I’m super excited about Summer and holidays, like everyone, there’s a long list of jobs to get done before the celebrations begin. Not least of which is my Christmas shopping.
Since I’ve been getting into minimalism, I’ve found myself shopping less and less. That’s what happens when you decide you don’t need more stuff. But I’m also not feeling that excited about the whole gift buying thing this year either.
To be fair I haven’t ever been a talented gift giver. You know how there are some people, like my gorgeous friend Missy Helgs who have the knack for knowing exactly what you’d love and buying the perfect thing? Like some rustic antique pottery mixing bowls in the photo here that she so thoughtfully organised for my birthday this year. Well I’m not one of those people, although there are times that I wish I was.
This year I’m planning to give experiences OR make my gifts from scratch. There has to be something to be said for gifts made with love. So I thought I’d share a few ideas for gifts I’ve been toying with and it seemed like the perfect excuse to share my latest obsession: homemade BBQ sauce – if homemade gifts aren’t your style do consider making a smaller batch for yourself. It’s seriously the best.
9 christmas gifts to make at home
1. preserved lemons
I blogged about these recently so they were top of mind on the gift idea list. There are few things as pretty as a jar of preserved lemons.
If you’re worried that your recipient may not know what to do with them, then include a link to the post or print out the suggestions I mentioned.
2. marinated olives
If preserving or making jam scares you, marinated olives might be just the thing, particularly if your loved one(s) are olive fans. Feel free to play around with the flavourings in the recipe here. Lemon makes a lovely change from orange zest and thyme or bay leaves can be switched for the rosemary.
My mum was the best jam maker ever. For those of you in the southern hemisphere, we’re coming into prime jam making season. Yay. The recipe for my mum’s jam is in my first print cookbook, And the love is free. If you follow the link, the jam recipe is visible in the preview – it’s page 130 so you’ll need to scroll through for a while.
Dukkah is orginally an Egyptian blend of spices and nuts. It is usually served with olive oil and bread for dipping but can also be sprinkled on dishes for a hint of nutty spiciness.
It makes an excellent gift on its own or can be teamed with a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. The my stonesoup dukkah recipe pre-dates my 5 ingredient ethos but manages to stick to the limit. There are a list of possible uses included with the recipe – it might be a nice idea to print them out and include with the gift.
Another Moroccan specialty, this is one for friends and family who love their chilli. Again there are suggestions for what to do with it along with the recipe.
6. BBQ sauce
Homemade savoury sauce may not be the first thing that comes to mind for gift giving, but I know heaps of people who aren’t into jam that would kill for a bottle of something like this (recipe below).
Wonderful with anything cooked on the BBQ from steak to pork to halloumi and even mushrooms and eggplant (aubergine). It’s also lovely with bangers and mash or as an unusual smoky accompaniment to poached or fried eggs.
7. puddle cookies
If the sweet tooth in your life also happens to be gluten or dairy intolerant, then I have just the thing. These puddle cookies made with just egg whites, cocoa powder, sugar, nuts and vanilla are every thing that a sweet treat should be.
8. chocolate chip cookies
This recipe predates my 5 ingredients pledge, so they’re a bit on the complicated side. Am making a mental note to work on a 5 ingredient version in the new year. But for now, these are bound to get rave reviews – I had a lady email me recently saying that her kids wouldn’t eat any other cookie.
9. homemade peanut butter
My Irishman is the brains behind this phenomenon, but if you know someone who loves their peanut butter, this is probably the best gift you can give. It’s a bit on the labor intensive side, but well worth the toil.
makes approx 12 cups
This sauce will keep for months in the pantry if you take the time to sterilise your jars (read – pop them in the dishwasher on the highest setting just before you use them.) But will need to be refrigerated once a bottle is opened. If you can’t be bothered with the sterilising thing, it will still keep for months or even longer in the fridge.
If you can’t find smoky paprika, just substitute in regular paprika, the flavour won’t be as smoky but it will still be delicious.
With the chilli, leave the seeds in if you prefer a hotter sauce and remove them if you’re more of a mild person. You could always make a big batch without the seeds then bottle half and add the seeds or some dried chilli and cook for a little longer so you have a mild version and a hot one.
Feel free to decrease or increase the batch size depending on your needs.
10 brown onions, peeled & quartered
25 red chillies, stalks removed (see note above re. seeds)
2L (8 cups) tomato ketchup
1kg (2lb) brown sugar
10 tablespoons (60g /2oz) smoked paprika
1. Pop your jars and their lids in the dishwasher on a high setting.
2. Whizz onion and chilli in a food processor until you have a smoothish puree. You will probably need to do this in batches.
3. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan.
4. Add onion puree and cook, covered over a medium-low heat for about half an hour or until onion is soft. Remember to stir occasionally.
5. Add ketchup, sugar and paprika. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer.
6. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about an hour or until sauce has thickened slightly. Taste and season if required but it probably won’t need anything.
7. Remove from heat and pour into warm jars from the dishwasher and seal immediately (I like to use gloves to avoid burns).
BBQ sauce instructional video on YouTube.