Last weekend we celebrated our son’s fifth birthday with extended family. Lunch included plenty of produce from the farmers’ market and the lovely weather encouraged us to linger at the long table set up on the porch. The little man-of-the-hour’s request for a cake? He wanted it to be like a caramel apple… so I baked a three-layer spiced apple cake with local fruit and frosted it with caramel buttercream made using local eggs with yolks the color of sunset.
After dessert, as a few of us were sharing stories about foods we love, the talk turned to family favorites and personal specialties. Everyone has go-to dishes, magical creations, and established recipes they’ve tweaked to personal perfection. As the end of year is approaching (startling but true), accompanied by the usual gift-giving holidays, we’re already working on some hand-made, heart-felt gifts at our house. Homemade jams and preserves are always great gifts, as are knit wearables (there are even great local sources of yarn!) and decorative items but if you have a reputation among family and friends for your recipes and special dishes, consider making your own cookbook or recipe card box to share with those you love and who love your cooking.
On a budget? Print out your best recipes (include your sources for local food items at the bottom) and bind them in a three-hole tabbed folder or make up cards and fill an inexpensive box that captures the style and character of the recipient. Have a little more time and money? Use an online vendor to upload recipes, notes, and photos (of completed dishes, complicated steps, or even the growers from whom you often purchase ingredients) and have hard-bound books printed.
Family gatherings are a great chance to share stories, recipes, and love for each other. Whether planning ahead for gatherings of family or friends… a hand-made gift is always in season.