My favorite part of the holidays is making festive food and joyously eating it with the people I love. And that hasn't changed since I...Read More
Tuesday 10: More Paleo Gifts From The Kitchen
Way back in the day, when we lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, California, I had way more time than money, so I made gifts from my kitchen from this Williams-Sonoma book. I whipped up Spiced Nuts and Fancy Olives and buttery shortbread and pine nut brittle and chewy caramels. I wrapped everything in clear cellophane and tied it with curly ribbon. I stamped brown paper lunch bags with silver snowflakes and stuffed them full of the cellophane-wrapped treats,then I hand-delivered my gifts with a kiss and hug. It was the most fun I ever had getting ready for the holidays.
It was also a huge time suck — and let’s not even talk about how much sugar-poison was in those treats I so lovingly prepared.
But handmade holidays don’t need to take a ton of time: a simple mason jar with a handmade tag is all it takes for a pretty presentation. With the goodies listed below, your gifts from the kitchen can be delicious and healthy — and no one will be the wiser because these things don’t taste like health food. It’s our own Christmas miracle.
For each suggestion below, I’ve included ideas about how to package the treat for maximum joyousness, and I’ve included some recommendations for go-along gifts, in case you want to turn it up to 11.
10 Paleo Gifts From The Kitchen
Why: Rogan Josh is from Kashmir, and it’s the cashmere version of curry: smooth, silky, rich — and it’s a curry with which most people aren’t familiar, so it feels a little special.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: A jar and tag work like magic here, too, just include the instructions for turning the seasoning into a simmering pot of lusciousness. “Brown 1 lb. lamb cubes and an onion in cooking fat, then add 3 tablespoons Rogan Josh seasoning, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 cup coconut milk to the pan. Simmer covered 2 hours.”
Why: Because it’s not a spice blend most cooks are used to using, so it’s an unusual gift — and it has the added bonus of tasting good on just about everything, so the cook on the receiving end will find it easy to use.
Packaging & Instructions: It can be as simple as putting the blend in a jelly jar with a tag that explains what it is (“Ras el Hanout” is a Moroccan spice blend that can include up to 100 spices.”) and lists serving suggestions like, “Sprinkle liberally on steamed veggies with ghee.” or “Mix 1-2 tablespoons into ground beef or lamb for meatballs or burgers.”
Turn it up to 11: The book that made me fall in love with Moroccan food and traditions is called A Street in Marrakech, and it tells the story of how an American woman lived in Morocco for a year and learned about the culture from the inside. The details about food and everyday life are thoroughly engrossing.
Why: Spicy but not hot, Merguez Sausage is Moroccan street food, and the seasoning blend instantly turns ho-hum ground beef or lamb into hubba-hubba.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: You should be sensing a theme: jar + tag. Jazz up the tag with a Merguez fun fact, “In French police slang, “merguez” is used to describe a car that’s been modified to make it hard to identify and, therefore, ideal for committing crimes.” And you probably want to include cooking instructions: “Mix 4 tablespoons spice blend with 2 lbs. ground lamb, beef, or a combination, plus 3 cloves crushed garlic, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup fresh minced parsley. Make into meatballs or burgers.”
Turn it up to 11: A tagine is the quintessential Moroccan cooking vessel. It’s perfect for cooking slow-braised meats, and it’s really pretty, too. Or give the gift of movie night with the exotic locale and WWII drama Casablanca.
4. Spiced Nuts
Why: What’s better than a hostess gift that everyone can eat right away?! These spiced nuts look appropriately festive, thanks to the granulated salt and sugar that cling to them. Yes, sugar. It’s 2 tablespoons of sugar in the recipe, which works out to 1.26 grams of sugar in an ounce of the nuts. I can live with that on a holiday; can’t you?!
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: You can go minimalist and deliver them in a brown paper bag that crinkles appropriately, go a little more upscale with a jar, or take it all the way with a holiday nut bowl (not to be confused with a holiday nut job — or maybe your family doesn’t have one of those).
Turn it up to 11: I really like this squirrel nut bowl. About 20 years ago I received a pewter serving dish as a Christmas gift from a friend and when I break it out on special occasions, I think of her and enjoy that gift all over again.
5. Grain-Free Granola: Savory or Sweet & Salty With Kale
Why: Sometimes you just need something crunchy-salty-sweet to nibble on — and both of these grain-free recipes are packed with healthy nuts, spices, and love.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: These look beautiful packed into a mason jar tied with a bow, or go for a straight-up brown paper bag decorated with silver paint pen.
Turn it up to 11: Sometimes I wonder if I have bad taste, but I’m having trouble resisting this bear paw serving dish.
Why: Homemade nut butter is a revelation. It’s stupid easy to make, and if you grind it yourself, you can add flavorings that make it far more special than anything that can be purchased in a store.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: A jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid is all you need, but if you wanted to, you could include a vintage spoon… so the recipients don’t need to resort to merely scooping the almond butter from the jar with their fingers.
Turn it up to 11: I love a good foodie memoir, and Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes from a Sicilian Girlhood sounds sweet and tasty.
Why: Because they’re chocolate. And they have the texture of truffles. And they look really pretty. And they’re easy to make. And the recipient might share with you.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: You can pack them like truffles in a foil box with candy papers, stack them in a wide-mouthed mason jar, or deliver them in a tiny cellophane bag.
8. Homemade Soup: Golden Cauliflower or Silky Gingered Zucchini or Sweet Potato and Bacon
Why: Soup is such a loving, comforting food, and in the midst of holiday mania, it can be so soothing to sit down with a simple mug of warming vegetables you can eat with a spoon.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: A big ol’ jar with a tag is all it takes: “Heat soup gently over low heat, then eat with a big spoon and consider yourself hugged.”
Why: It’s creamy, luscious, and the perfect partner for raw veggies. If you’re lucky, the recipient might just say “Grab a carrot” and share with you.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: Pour into a jar with a tight lid and include serving suggestions on the tag: “Great for dipping raw veggies and grilled meat, or turn it into paleo Pad Thai. Find the recipe here: www. theclothesmakethegirl.com/2011/05/08/paleo-pad-thai.”
Why: They’re a guilt-free snicky-snack that’s sweet, crunchy, salty and oh-so-shareable. Plus, you can whip up a batch in no time, so they’re a perfect last-minute gift.
Packaging & Cooking Instructions: I’m pretty sure all the tag needs to say is, “Eat with gusto.”
Turn it up to 11: The only real option is this.