Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DIY Edible Gifts

I love to give gifts. I heard recently that gift giving is a way to express your relationship with others – if you find something a friend or family member really likes, it illustrates how well you know them.

Giving the gift of good food is always a great way to show someone you care. A few years ago I started the tradition of making an edible gift for family and friends, and it’s been fun to come up with new ideas each year. The first year, my Dad’s side took an extended family trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia. On the way home, I purchased a bushel of in-season Georgia peaches and made peach preserves. My family loved receiving a vacation memento, and I loved having the jars made up and done months ahead of time!

I’ve also grown and dried herbs, picked blueberries and blackberries and made jam, and even made a healthful granola that I shared with friends in the New Year when I got behind at Christmas.

This year, my husband and I got two backyard chickens that we keep for egg production. (Click here and scroll down for a picture!) We also have a Meyer lemon tree that we keep outdoors in the summer and move indoors each winter. With fresh eggs and lemons on hand, I decided to try my hand at lemon curd.

If you’ve never had it, lemon curd is a rich, lemony spread made with eggs, butter, sugar and lemon juice that is delicious on muffins, sweet breads, biscuits or on its own served with berries. It can also be poured into a pastry shell and baked for a quick tart. And, it’s SUPER easy to prepare.

With just six ingredients, you literally mix everything together, and heat over low heat, whisking constantly, until the curd thickens. Then you pour it into jars, refrigerate and voila! Instant gift.

Because we have a limited supply of eggs and lemons, I’m also going to make banana bread mix in a jar. I thought this would be a tasty and useful gift since there just always seems to be at least one banana in every bunch that gets just a little bit too ripe. This way, gift recipients have a convenient and delicious solution on hand! The recipe is from my friend Mary’s mother, and it’s delicious. Straightforward yet perfectly balanced – this is a great, basic banana bread recipe. You can find the recipe here, in the Tennessean (my blog was featured today!).

I mixed the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt) and added them to quart-sized jars first. Then the chocolate chips and walnuts went in over that. I had to add more nuts/chips than the recipe called for to pack it in the jar – I didn’t want the ingredients to mix up during transit. I call it, “Old Banana Mix,” as in, here’s-a-mix-for-your-too-ripe-bananas, and I think it’s adorable.

Have you made (or received) any interesting DIY edible gifts? Please leave a comment and share it below. After all, it’s never too early to start planning for next year!

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Lemon Curd

This rich, decadent lemon curd is perfect for the holidays. Spread it on muffins, toast, biscuits or pour it into a prepared pie crust for an instant tart. If gifting, pour curd into half pint portions for your guests - it’s so rich a little goes a long way!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 ⅓ cups sugar
4 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1¾ sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Directions:

Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, eggs and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and large bubbles appear on the surface (it will be obvious when curd gets to this stage), about 10-15 minutes.

Immediately force curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then refrigerate in an airtight container until cold.

The lemon curd can be refrigerated, covered, for about 1 week.

Recipe courtesy “The Gourmet Cookbook” by Ruth Reichl

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2 Responses to “DIY Edible Gifts”

  1. 1

    Becca — February 13, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

    i’d take some lemon curd 😉

    • Annakate replied: — February 14th, 2013 @ 11:04 am

      It was sooo good. Now that you’re a cali girl, you probably have access to fresh lemons all the time – make some! It’s really quite easy. There are also microwave lemon curd recipes that are supposed to be super easy. Our microwave exploded a few years ago and we never replaced it so I had to go the old fashioned route. 🙂

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