Get spicy, get creative with your holiday gift baskets
ARA) – If you’re looking for easy but thoughtful gifts for holiday giving, herb, spice and tea baskets offer a solution for just about anybody on your list. Ordering online the supplies to make them will save you shopping time. And by buying your ingredients from the bulk section of your local food store, you can craft lovely gifts that are easy on the holiday budget, too.
With just a little thought about the person the gift is for and a few supplies, you’ll be able to design a personalized presentation. Some tips:
* Choose containers to define your theme. Baskets are lovely, but a mixing bowl, cake pan, serving dish and colander are more surprising and fun. Your gift may be as small as a delicate teacup or as large as a hefty soup pot.
* Repackage bulk herbs and spices in small jars or sacks tied with a festive ribbon. Label each with a gift tag or sticker. Frontier Natural Products offers hundreds of herbs and spices in bulk – as well as in small containers – on their website at www.frontiercoop.com.
And some specific gift basket ideas:
* Tuck loose-leaf teas like chamomile and peppermint (or your favorite spice blend) in a teacup, along with a tea strainer. Tie a ribbon on the handle.
* Combine a pizza cutter, a wedge of Parmesan, some baking yeast and an array of pizza seasonings – like oregano, basil and garlic powder, or a pizza seasoning blend – in a mixing bowl lined with a red-checkered cloth or potholder.
* Create a basket of basic spices for newlyweds or kids heading off to college, or a selection of savory spice blends for the seasoned cook. Include a cookbook for beginners or one by a favorite cooking show author.
* Corral some grilling spices and utensils in a grilling basket. Include some long mitts and a gift certificate for grilling fare (“I’ll bring the burgers when you fire up the grill,” for example).
* Share your sought-after dressing recipe (or look up one that’s full of spice). Place it in a salad bowl along with wooden serving utensils and the needed spices and other ingredients. Add some homemade croutons and pretty napkins.
* Fill an earthy mug with a hot cocoa mix – it’s even available Fair Trade Certified – or all of the ingredients for a hot drink, like this Cocoa Con Chile. Add the recipe, along with some marshmallows.
Cocoa Con Chile
2 tablespoons cocoa powder or carob powder
2 tablespoons sugar
A pinch or two of cayenne or 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
A pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
Whipped cream or marshmallows for topping (optional)
Whisk together in a saucepan the cocoa or carob, sugar, cayenne or cinnamon, salt, and water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until heated through. Whisk in the milk and half and half and continue cooking over low heat until hot. Pour into cups and top with whipped cream and another pinch of cayenne, if you like. Makes about two servings.
Frontier Natural Products Co-op offers many more tips and suggestions for specific gift baskets made with herbs, spices, seasonings, mixes, tea and cooking accessories at www.frontiercoop.com/giftbaskets.
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