Crafty Christmas treats

Home-made gifts are lovely things. Actually, let me qualify that, well-made, home-made gifts are lovely things. How my mother managed to smile at some of the cardboard-tube themed offerings of my childhood, I will never know. In this respect, at least, I have become mildly more sophisticated since the Eighties. For those of us who love an excuse to get in the kitchen, edible gifts also offer a way to indulge ourselves while pretending to be selfless. The joys of the season be with you…

This year, in a fit of being spectacularly more organised than is usual, I actually began this process in September, by making Grilled Green Tomato Chutney, from Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton’s Preserved. This book is a treasury of delicious things to make, most of which could easily be given as gifts, as indeed could the book itself – a gift to you that is, so you can, you know, selflessly cook for others…

If you do want to make something like chutney, it is worth planning ahead, as the flavours mature and develop over the months spent in a dark place (the chutney, not you). When the mixture is cooking, the house fills with smells of sage, oregano, ginger and apples. If you are smart enough to keep some for yourself, the opening at Christmas gives you back those late summer smells, and also compliments your leftovers splendidly.

One-click ordering from Amazon can’t match whipping up a batch of something yummy to give to loved ones. For those of you who haven’t made one earlier (and this would be me, every single other year), but don’t want to go down the home-made chocolate truffle route, a super simple yet visually impressive recipe is Nigella’s Cranberry-Studded Mincemeat. This is a last minute recipe, that turns out a gorgeously rich concoction, with minimal effort and maximum smugness. Add a nice jar and you’re home free. It needs no developing time – once it’s cooked, it’s ready – and provides a rather handy fridge standby for guests who don’t like mincemeat. Whoever they are.

Of course, it would hardly be fair to talk home-made without bringing the kids in to the kitchen. Even if your end product doesn’t turn out so well, there is a law which states: ‘Grandparents may not criticise these sorts of offerings’. So if you need to occupy kids, and fancy getting them to earn their keep, home-made gifts work a treat. I certainly remember happy hours making marzipan fruits, armed with large quantities of luminous yellow marzipan and little bottles of food colouring. If you are feeling a little upmarket, you can always refer back to ‘Preserved’ and candy some orange segments to let them dip in chocolate. These really do look stunning, and taste the part. Who doesn’t like covering fruit in chocolate? If you end up with leftover orange slices you can just dry them in a low oven, thread them and hang them on your tree, where they will make your house smell scrumptious. Truly.

By Helen Sutcliffe

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious Post to Facebook Send Gmail Post to StumbleUpon

Contact: Crafty Christmas treats

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *