Christmas present help (food related)
November 6, 2015 11:11 AM   Subscribe

What type of food (savory, doesn't need to be eaten right away) should I make for people this Christmas? Details, including allergies, below.

Every year, my husband and I give gifts to: my parents and my aunt (all local), his parents and his sister (have to ship from WA to CA), and four couples we're close friends with (all local). We've told the four couples that we're doing minimal presents this year, only a couple of homemade food-related items, and encourage them to do the same for us, and to feel no obligation to give us anything at all (except hopefully their attendance at our post-Christmas party).

The first thing I'm making for everyone is the Magic Mushroom Powder (basically a mushroom-flavored seasoning salt) from Nom Nom Paleo. I'll be giving this to the four couples, as well as family since it should be easy to ship in small jars.

But what else? I can't decide! Mainly, I want it to be savory (since there are so many cookies and cakes etc. around the holidays), and something that doesn't need to be eaten right away (because there's so much food in general around the holidays). Ideally it could also be mailed, but I am totally okay with making one thing for local folks and something else for those that aren't.

For example, one thing I thought about was making several batches of homemade potstickers and freezing them, and then giving local folks Ziploc bags of them with cooking instructions attached. (Obviously they couldn't be mailed, but that's okay.)

All suggestions are welcome! I'm fairly proficient in the kitchen and don't mind putting a lot of time and effort in, since this will be the main present for the four couples.

Difficulty: two of the four couples have a member who is allergic to garlic and onions.
posted by skycrashesdown to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

I have done the homemade potstickers thing to great acclaim.
posted by quaking fajita at 11:14 AM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Homemade pasta. Sooooo good, looks awesome depending on how you package it. May not ship well (breakage) unless you're careful or make a shape other than spaghetti-ish.

I have made these rosemary cheese crackers with great success. I don't think anything else I've ever made has gotten this many raves or requests for the recipe. They're pretty extraordinary - light, crisp, airy, savory.

Also, pinterest is your friend with requests like these.
posted by the webmistress at 11:45 AM on November 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Cheese straws or cheese cookies are a nice complement to sweet baked goods.
posted by rmless at 11:48 AM on November 6, 2015

You could look into small batch canning. You can mostly use materials that you have around your kitchen, like a large pasta pot and a silicon potholder to use to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. The only special items you would need are the canning jars (these 4 oz. ones are perfect for gifts) and a jar lifter (you can do it theoretically with tongs, but I prefer to have a secure grip on boiling hot glass jars...). If you find a canning recipe that you would like to use, you can scale it down and you can also use smaller jars than the recipe calls for (you just can't scale up the recipe or jars). If you scale the jars down, make sure that you process the jars at the same amount of time that the recipe calls for.

I've given this tomato jam successfully as a gift - you don't have to have peak tomatoes to make it taste good, since it is cooked down so long. I'm also thinking about trying this mustard for holiday gifting and maybe paring it a savory cracker. Pickled beets would look quite festive in a jar. You can leave the onion out in that recipe. Also, I have a recipe for a Chinese plum sauce that is really good with potstickers, but it's not online, so memail me if you are interested.

You could also make and freeze pierogi and also include some homemade sauerkraut, which will stay good in the fridge for a while.
posted by topophilia at 11:54 AM on November 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Perhaps a dip mix type of thing, just add sour cream. Or tapenades or bruschetta.
posted by wwartorff at 12:22 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Spiced nuts! Lots of ways to package them beautifully, from a simple, clear cellophane bag tied with twine to pretty little boxes lined with wax paper to cones, etc. And you can make a give an interesting selection like Sweet, Salty, Spicy, Guinness Beer Nuts , and Salt and Pepper Roasted Chickpeas. Well-packaged (as air-tight as possible) these all should last after the holidays are over. And they can be frozen by your recipients, too.
posted by weeyin at 12:46 PM on November 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

King Arthur Flour has a number of savory scones and biscotti. Everything I've made from that site is great - my favs are the parmesan and cracked pepper biscotti and the cheddar bacon chive scones. Both have traveled well from the northeast to the west coast and both freeze well.

This isn't savory but if the people in question like to bake, home made vanilla extract is easy and fun (there are many recipes online)

These aren't savory either (sorry! but they are soooo good) but can be put away for another time: creamed honey, creamed maple syrup, I also make a fruit liquor with apricots, rock sugar, corn liquor and star anise.
posted by bluesky43 at 12:54 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I made a risotto kit as a gift one year: dried mushrooms, saffron, arborio rice, an "easy oven-baked no-stir risotto" recipe all packaged nicely; optional block of parmesan and bottle of white wine if you're not mailing.
posted by aimedwander at 1:31 PM on November 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Dried stuff like beef jerky. I had some amazing peach habanero jerky recently that opened my eyes to the possibilities of chutney-like dried meats. I also hit big one year with fancy gourmet bacon.
posted by irisclara at 1:31 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I give people little jars of za'atar sometimes because it's really versatile, and most people I know don't have sumac lying around so they can make their own. (Warning: I kind of did end up running a free za'atar subscription service for when they run out.)

The recipe I use is 1/4 c. sumac, 2 Tbsp. each of dried thyme, Turkish oregano, and marjoram, 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, and 1 tsp. coarse salt. And that makes just enough to fit in one of those table shakers like this. To mail them, I just fill up the shaker, put cling wrap over the top, then screw on the perforated lid.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:42 PM on November 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've given (local) people homemade pirogies as gifts before, and they've always gone over staggeringly well--the difference between the homemade ones and the purchased ones is really, really dramatic.

Tomato or bacon jam is a good gift, and, as a bonus, can be done sort of ahead of time.

Though not everyone would appreciate this, one of the most remarked-upon gifts I routinely give people is about a doze frozen, single-serve portions of various soups. If you've got a good grip on what people like and don't like, it's pretty easy to just make a crapload of various kinds of soup, buy 1.75-2c storage containers at the dollar store, and then freeze enough soup that you can give people an assortment. Bonus points if they're frozen with little ziplocks of what people might want with them--croutons, bacon, or shredded cheese, or whatever. This is also my default congratulations on your new baby gift.

Seasoned nuts might fit this bill, too. I do rosemary walnuts that people seem to love, but there are tons of recipes for that kind of thing.
posted by MeghanC at 7:27 PM on November 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've found that mixed spices go over well, especially for folks who don't have a huge spice pantry of their own. If you combine it with some recipes, they'll love you forever!

You could do a series of finishing salts -- citrus salt, sriracha salt, rosemary salt, etc., and make cute little tins with suggested ways to use them.

Bonus link if you want to mail someone a gift - I subscribe to the Raw Spice Bar subscription club and for $6 a month they ship you about 3-5 little packets of spices, a glossy sheet with recipes, and an email arrives with other recipes on their website. Each month is a different type of cuisine and I've thoroughly loved this year of spices. I'm planning to continue for another year AND I'm giving it for Christmas to a wide variety of friends and family. I'll gift few months for lower key friends, and a full year for the in-laws. You could totally look on their site to get some ideas.

Homemade marshmallows aren't very common, actually not that sweet and are super delicious. They're not savory, but they're very festive, especially with a homemade spiced hot chocolate mix!
posted by barnone at 8:10 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answers for everyone! I've gone from having no idea to too many ideas. This is fantastic so far, thank you!
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:47 PM on November 6, 2015

I've made this balsamic drizzle recipe to great reviews - in fact I need to make some more, my Dad gave me his empty bottle declaring that this sauce makes broccoli worth eating.
posted by sarajane at 7:34 AM on November 7, 2015

Preserved lemons: beautiful, versatile, good cost-to-fanciness ratio!
posted by Edna Million at 10:39 AM on November 7, 2015

I know it's after Christmas but if anyone comes looking for next year: Chai Tea Concentrate: I haven't tried it but it sounds good and you could make cute labels for it.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:52 AM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

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