I love homemade gifts. As a child, I was an absolute master of the homemade present. I mean, weren't we all the mini-Picassos bestowing masterworks on our parent's refrigerators, petite potters sculpting lumpy mugs emblazoned with "World's Best Whatever," baby bakers whipping up the block's ugliest Christmas cookies to be doled out to neighbors and family friends!
Growing older shouldn't quell your enthusiasm for the homemade gift, it simply means your homemade gifts should look and taste a little less "homemade." Homemade gifts are truly an area where it is the "thought that counts," so be thoughtful about giving things people will actually use, rather than burdening them with yet another round of dust collectors.
I like food gifts. With a definite shelf-life, you know they'll either be enjoyed or tossed in a somewhat timely fashion. This year I'm gifting a "Sweet & Salty Stack" consisting of an Italian Herb salt and a Jalapeño or Habanero Pepper Drizzle. The salt is made with herbs from my garden and has been infusing since the summer when I started stuffing dried herbs into a jar, but it's so easy and works so well with herbs from the market, that you might as well whip some up. Same with the Jalapeño Drizzle. I made mine at the end of the summer with Jalapeños and Habaneros from the garden, but it comes together in about 30 minutes with the store-bought variety and is delicious!
Italian Herb Salt
Collect a bunch of your favorite herbs. I used lots of summer basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary. Dry them in the microwave by placing in layers of paper towel and microwaving for 15 second intervals until dry. WATCH OUT...these will burn and start small, but fragrant fires in your microwave. When dry add to a large jar and fill with salt. I used Pink Himalayan because it is pretty, but any of your favorite salts will work. You can use a coarse kosher salt, a flaky sea salt or a colorful salt. Store in a cool place and shake it around every week or whenever you notice it sitting there. Divide up into smaller jelly jars for gifting.
Jalapeño Honey Drizzle
This Jalapeño Drizzle is really a homemade version of Jalapeño Gold. For step-by-step instructions click here: All Hot and Jalapeño'd