I never really considered myself the type to make food gifts, until I started a mental inventory of the kind of gifts I have given as an adult. Let’s see, there was the year of the red and green star-shaped ravioli, then there was the fancy fetuccine, followed by an array of mustards, flavored oils, herb and fruit vinegars, hot sauces, brownies, barbecue sauces, cookies, candied flower petals, vanilla extract, preserved lemons, flavored sugars, pestos, flower-infused honeys, spiced nuts, etc.–so, yeah, 15 years, at the very least, of homemade food gifts.
Some of them were great (I think) while some of them were misses (I know). Some of them were not well-planned (the shipping cost for the big jars of juicy preserved lemons was so outrageous that I scrapped the plan and ate preserved lemons with everything for months). I still find some of the gifts (blueberry vinegar, Tahitian vanilla extract) lurking in the back of my mom’s pantry when I’m cooking at her house. Some of them have undoubtedly ended up in the garbage, while recently a friend told me that his mom still has the unopened hot pepper olive oil decoratively on the counter by her sink–the same place it’s been for the past 14 years. But I think (hope) for the most part, the gifts have been consumed.
Which is one of things I love about food gifts–even if the recipient doesn’t jump up and down about it, the gift usually gets used, and it’s almost always appreciated (or so it seems). And worst case scenario, they dump out a dollar’s worth of food, keep the nice jar, and know that I put some time and love into their gift.
So what am I (not the type to give homemade food gifts) giving for presents this year? (Spoiler alert.) Homemade granola. I don’t know if everyone loves granola–but if they don’t, they should. (So there.) I’ve adapted a Nigella Lawson recipe that she borrowed from a Connecticut shop called The Pantry.
I have bought a pack of tin tie, one-pound, airtight, craft paper coffee bags (only 18 cents each!) to house it in. (If you’re not shipping them, recycled glass jars are a nice choice as well.) I’ll make labels, pack them up cutely, and send them off. And maybe I’ll find a bag of it in the back of my mom’s fridge next visit–but at least I’ll know that it meant enough to her that she didn’t toss it in the garbage, and I’ll have something to eat for breakfast. So here’s the recipe.
4.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cups white sesame seeds
3/4 cups apple sauce
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey (or agave syrup for vegans)
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar (or Sucanat)
2 cups whole almonds
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 cups dried cherries (I’m using a mix of Bing and tart)
1. Preheat oven to 325F. In a large mixing bowl, mix everything together except the cherries.
2. Spread the mixture out on two large baking sheets and place in oven.
3. Several times during baking, use a spatula to stir the mix around to ensure even baking.
4. Bake until granola is evenly golden–anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven.
5. Let cool, stir in cherries, and store in airtight bags or containers.
Makes approximately 10 cups.
For some of my past food gift recipes such as Preserved Lemons, Sweet Spice Blend, Vanilla Infused Maple Sugar, and Ginger Syrup, see Groovy Green Hostess Gifts.