If you are making gifts from the kitchen, use containers that will be useful after the contents are eaten. Search $2 shops, supermarkets, Trade Aid shops, party shops and op-shops for imaginative and economical containers, wrapping and ribbons. Don't forget to decorate with herbs and flowers from your garden.
Then fill with these kinds of goodies. All are recipes that have previously appeared in Living and can be found here.
* Snap lock storage boxes, wrapped in tinfoil with a ribbon and filled with chocolate bark.
* A vintage bottle filled with raspberry vinegar.
* A pretty or groovy tea towel tied with string and cinnamon quills.
* Sri Lankan spice powder packed in a bright pink plastic pod, found in the lunchbox section at the supermarket.
* Fill old preserving jars, or these new French ones found at Flotsam + Jetsam for only $5, with preserved lemons or the compote recipe below.
Middle Eastern dried fruit compote
Made with dried fruit and nuts this super rich compote can be served solo with a bit of creme fraiche, or ice cream. Write on your gift card that it must be stored in the fridge until used. This also goes for the preserved lemons.
1. Buy a selection of dried fruit including apricots, raisins, sultanas and figs, and a selection of nuts, almonds, pistachio, pine nuts and cashews.
2. Place these in a bowl and just cover with boiling water. Leave for a few hours to plump up.
3. Sprinkle with raw sugar and orange blossom water and mix to dissolve the sugar. It should be quite sweet, but go easy with the orange blossom water.
4. Pack into your jars and refrigerate. This is not preserving and is best made a few days before giving. It will hold in the fridge but needs to be eaten fairly quickly or it will start to ferment.
"I will cook for you"
If you love cooking, the best thing to "gift" to your friends is an offer to cook for them. You may wish to specify how many you're going to cook for, however.
Suppliers: French Jars from here. Fruits, nuts and orange blossom water from Mahadeo's Spices & Produce, 14 Virginia Ave, Eden Terrace, Auckland City, and other Indian and Middle Eastern supply shops.