Good Food Blog
Christmas giftsPosted at 12:02PM, 08 December 2008 by Mary Cadogan - Food writer
Cash strapped and fed up with trudging round the shops looking for the ideal prezzies for family and friends? Me too, so this year I'm getting into the kitchen to make some edible gifts that will add pleasure and real enjoyment to the Christmas table.
Forget novelty socks, smellies or clothes that just mean another trip to the shops to exchange them for another size or colour. An hour or so of mixing, chopping and stirring and you'll have gifts that everyone will enjoy. I've already made a big batch of my Pineapple, fig & ginger chutney.
Packed into kilner jars, tied with raffia and a luggage label perked up with glitter and stars, it looks great and goes perfectly with cold ham or turkey on Boxing day. My husband Mick has started his version of cointreau which couldn't be simpler. He pricks a couple of oranges all over with a fork and puts them in a large kilner jar with vodka to cover (cheap own-brand vodka will do). Seal and give it a shake every day for 2 weeks (so you still have time to make it if you get a move on!). Strain and mix with sugar syrup, tasting as you add until you are happy with the taste. Pour into nice clip-topped bottles, attach a pretty label and you're there. You could even pack the bottle into a tissue-lined box with a few shot glasses.
An hour or so of mixing, chopping and stirring and you'll have gifts that everyone will enjoy.
For those with a sweet tooth there's always Lesley Waters gorgeous Sparkling vanilla Christmas cookies. Make a hole in each and thread with fine ribbon so they're ready to hang on the tree. They look great packed into cellophane bags tied with more ribbon.
If you want to give a fruit cake you could use my Simmer and stir Christmas cake recipe which is suitable for even the most novice cook, with no beating or heavy stirring involved. Make up a batch and divide the mixture between two 1lb loaf tins. You'll need to cut the cooking time to about 1ÃÂ½ hours. Top each cooked cake with a thin layer of marzipan, then drizzle with icing and stud with crystallised fruits and nuts. If you buy new tins the cakes can be packed back into them to form part of the gift. The same idea would work with a batch of mince pies presented in a bun tray.
So forget the shopping and have yourself and those you love a merrier Christmas this year.