As I glance about my house, I see countless reminders of Christmas
past–an old-fashioned tin container here; there a beautiful basket that
once held fruits and cheeses. In my cupboards are numerous glass jars
of all descriptions now filled with lentils, beans, nuts and seeds, all
serving a useful purpose long after they arrived filled with special
gifts from friends and relatives.
Each container still reminds me of the giver. At the time I
received them, each meant much more to me than had I been offered some
expensive store-bought item. You can’t put a price on the love,
time and thoughtfulness that come with a gift of homemade food.
Over the years I have assembled an array of my own gift recipes.
They aren’t the traditional candies and cookies. I wouldn’t
want to be responsible for spreading cavities or adding extra pounds to
the families of my friends and relatives.
One of my favorite gifts is marinated carrots. Everyone who has
tried them knows they’re worth their weight in gold–what a unique
and wonderful flavor!
Unbaked Fruit and Nut Balls and Apricot-Pineapple Bread are
wholesome treats you can’t find the likes of in any store or
Almost everybody is eating salads these days to stay thin, but
grocery-store-variety salad dressings can be high in calories.
Here is a light dressing recipe my friends really like. Packaged
in an attractive cruet, it can make a unique, useful gift.
Instead of giving that bottle of whiskey this year, try making
Francine Prince’ Old English Mulled Punch from page 23 of this
issue. Put it in a glass decanter with a bright ribbon and know that
you’ll be giving them a healthful toast.
Think about it a bit, and you may realize that some of your own
recipes would make wonderful presents, too.
Merry Carotene (marinated carrots) (Makes 8 servings) 2 pounds
carrots, cooked (do not overcook) 1 medium bell pepper, sliced or
slivered raw 1 medium onion, sliced 1 can tomato soup 1-1/2 teaspoons
hot Tabasco 1/4 cup oil 1/2 cup honey 3/4 cup apple-cider vinegar 1
teaspoon dry mustard (or can use prepared mustard)
Whip all marinade ingredients well. Drop onion and pepper slices
into marinade. Pour marinade over drained, slightly cooked and sliced
carrots. Place in refrigerator. Store and chill for 8-12 hours before
serving. Will keep up to three weeks in refrigerator (if you can keep
them that long). Suggestions for gift-giving: Fill pint jars with
these, top with lid. Type or print gummed label for side of jar
identifying these as “Merry Carotene” carrots–must be
refrigerated. You could also fit the jar into a basket. Wrap, tag and
give to someone who appreciates something tangy. Makes a lovely hostess
gift if you are going to a party.
Apricot-Pineapple Bread (Makes 2 loaves) 1 cup dried apricots
1-3/4 cups water 2 cups oat flour 1-1/4 cups rice flour 1/4 cup soy
flour 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk 3 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten 1 cup honey 1/4 cup vegetable oil Remaining liquid from
apricots 1/2 cup crushed, unsweetened pineapple with some juice Chopped
Cover apricots with water in saucepan, simmer fruit until it is
tender but still has body. Cool. Sift all dry ingredients into mixing
bowl. Beat eggs well and add honey, oil and apricot liquid. Stir in
crushed pineapple and blend well. Add this to the dry ingredients and
combine until moistened. Now add the chopped apricots, folding in and
distributing through the batter. Oil two 3-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ loaf
pans and divide the batter between them. Bake in a moderate 350[deg.]F.
oven for approximately 30 minutes. Watch carefully, because this bread
browns quickly. If you use glass pans, reduce heat to 325[deg.]F.
Suggestions for gift-giving: A basket a little larger than the
bread, lined with a large paper napkin. Wrap bread in see-through wrap.
Tie with ribbon and tag. Makes two gifts.
Fruit and Nut Nibbles (Makes 8 cups) 4 cups old-fashioned rolled
oats 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 1/2 cup sliced almonds 2 teaspoons
ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 cup
safflower oil 1/4 cup honey 2 tablespoons water 1/2 cup coarsely chopped
dried apricots 1/2 cup coarsely chopped prunes 1/2 cup coarsely chopped
dried apples 1/2 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 300[deg.]F. In a large bowl combine oats, walnuts,
almonds, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add safflower oil, honey and
water; stir until moistened. Pour into an oiled jelly-roll pan. Bake
until golden (about 30 minutes) and stir occasionally. Set aside to
cool. Stir in apricots, prunes, apples and raisins. These should be
refrigerated until you give them away (if they last that long!).
Suggestions for gift-giving: Line an attractive tin with wax paper,
add the nibble mix, fold the paper over to cover and put on the lid.
Wrap the tin in clear cellophane paper, tie with a bow or length of
narrow lace ribbon and add a thoughtful, written note on a tag. These
could also be given in glass jars.
Sesame Seed Squares (Makes 1-1-1/2 dozen) 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup
peanut butter 1 cup powdered nonfat milk 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut 1
cup sesame seeds
Heat honey and peanut butter slightly over very low heat for ease
of mixing. Add powdered milk, coconut and sesame seeds. Mix well and
pat into oiled 9″-square pan. Place in refrigerator to set. Cut in
squares (approximately 60 calories per square with 4 grams of
good-quality protein per square). Absolutely delicious!
Suggestions for gift-giving: Choose a pretty plate for these tasty
squares, wrap with clear cellophane paper, Saran Wrap or one of the
plastic see-through wraps, tie with a bright ribbon and add nametag.
Unbaked Fruit and Nut Balls (Makes 6 servings) 1 cup pitted
dates 1 cup pitted prunes 1 cup seedless golden raisins 1 cup walnuts or
almonds, chopped 1 cup shredded coconut 1/2 cup honey
Grind (or chop fine) all ingredients and mix thoroughly with honey.
Shape into balls. Store in refrigerator several days before giving.
Suggestions for gift-giving: Line a decorative tin with wax paper,
drop balls onto paper; for second layer, add more wax paper. Cover with
lid. Wrap and give to someone with a sweet tooth.
Sherry French Dressing (Makes 5 cups) 1 egg 1 teaspoon honey 1/4
teaspoon Lite salt 4 cups salad oil (half olive oil makes it still
better) 1/2 cup vinegar 1/2 cup sherry 1 clove garlic
Mix egg, honey and salt together; add oil and vinegar alternately
until all the oil is added, then drip the sherry in slowly. Add garlic
button, just barely crushed, and store in Mason jars in refrigerator.
Suggestions for gift-giving: Type or print gummed label for side of
jar or fancy cruet identifying this as Sherry French Dressing–must be
refrigerated. Wrap, tag and give to a friend or relative who loves
unusually tasty salad dressings.