What’s grander than giving what you’ve gleaned from the past year’s growing season?
With all of today’s commercialization, mass mechanizing, technologizing, and other such super-sized companies monopolizing the market, handmade and homegrown have become “has been.” Or have they?
Despite all this competition, gardeners still have the “gift-edge” on giving what their recipient will likely love. And what’s more, you’ll love gifting it to them.
There’s still nothing like sharing what one has reaped by propagating it from your own hands and garden.
As we delve into December, and you might be wondering what to give to those you care about, peruse your pantry, freezer, greenhouse, and overwintering garden. You might be surprised just what golden gifts you have to offer.
Whether naughty or nice, a relative, special friend, neighbor, co-worker, fellow gardener, or someone you’d like to see smile, there’s something for them all.
With such gifting, the first thing is to determine what’s best depending on the distance from the recipient. Give fresh produce, fragile baked goods, and other perishables locally. Dried, canned, and some cured items (garlic, onions, potatoes), dried herbs, beans, nuts, and seeds, are better shipped.
The fun has just begun! Once you’ve taken stock, it’s time to get creative.
Start with containers. For hand deliveries, there are baskets, heavy gift bags, (brown paper is great for stamping on your own graphics), gift boxes, or small reusable canvas totes.
For shipping, choose sturdy cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, crumpled paper and tissue, foam insulation (rigid or flexible sheets) or real popcorn insulation (popped and bagged that can become yet another gift).
Now for the gifts! For those close by, give baskets filled with late-season produce such as onions; root vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes); garlic braids tied with colored natural jute; fresh-cut cooking herbs tied with raffia and herb scissors; potted culinary plants for kitchen windowsills (basil, chives, parsley, rosemary); fruits such as apples, pears, quince or grapes; pesto; frozen jam; herb cookies and yeast breads; or fresh squeezed juices in pretty bottles.
For those further away, choices include: Dried fruits, vegetables, roasted nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or herbs put in labeled plastic zip bags or plastic storage containers along with suggested uses or recipes; garlic braids; unshelled walnuts in plastic egg cartons (you could spray the carton’s exterior gold, then put a walnut in each compartment and tie with ribbon and nutcracker); lavender made into wands; lavender put into fabric sachet bags; flavored vinegars; pickles; jams/jellies; canned spiced fruits or herbed vegetables; sweet quick breads such as spiced pumpkin, apple, or pear baked in metal or foil pans and sealed with seasonal plastic wrap and tied with ribbon or raffia; your own popped corn, or un-popped corn in zip bags with cooking instructions; soaps; candles; honey; and whatever else you’ve grown to share.
All you need now are colorful ribbons, raffia, jute, hemp, and sprigs of herbs to tie things up, handmade covers for jars and bottle caps as well as your own gift tags. And lastly, don’t forget some treats for those well deserving pets!
Whether near or far,
In a box or jar
A gardener’s gift
Will the spirit lift.
You should find all you need in your own garden, pantry, fridge, or freezer.
Perfect Seasoned Popcorn
2 tablespoons cooking olive oil
½ cup fresh popcorn kernels and 3 extra kernels
Put oil in large heavy-lidded pot and heat over medium high heat. Drop in extra kernels and put on lid. If they pop, the oil is ready. Remove kernels and pour in remaining kernels then replace lid slightly ajar. Shake pan about every 30 seconds to circulate kernels. When popping ceases, remove pan from heat and pour corn into large bowl. Season with salt to taste or try one of the following.
Sprinkle on popped corn to taste:
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with ¼ cup of coconut sugar. Store in jar.
Sprinkle on Grated Italian parmesan cheese mix (the shelf stable kind in a green can).
Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Sprinkle
Don’t Forget the Dog!
2 cups oat flour
¾ cup regular rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce (your own, of course)
1 extra large egg, beaten with a fork
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together the flour and oats. Add applesauce and all but 1 tablespoon of egg. Stir with wooden spoon until stiff dough forms. Roll in a rope and cut into 16 pieces. Roll each piece about 10” long, then form into a pretzel, pinching ends together. Brush remaining egg over each. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Cool and store airtight for up to 2 weeks or freeze. 1 pretzel=1 treat.
For the Feline
Cut bullet-shaped tough fabric (heavy woven wool, denim, canvas) about 3”x 5”.
15” heavy string for each mouse tail
Hook and loop fastener (Velcro)
Sew hook and loop fastener on both sides of flat end of mouse. With right sides together, stitch twice over the mouse catching in tail string near straight opening. Turn pocket and put in a bit of non-plastic stuffing to plump the body, then fill with dried catnip. Zip end closed. Include extra nip in a zip bag to replenish.