Who doesn’t enjoy a box of chocolates, a basket of gourmet cheese or a restaurant gift card?
In this season of giving, food gifts are always in good taste.
Well, maybe with the exception of a soggy fruitcake and a membership to the Jelly-of-the-Month club. But aside from those, who doesn’t enjoy a box of chocolates, a basket of gourmet cheese or a restaurant gift card?
Of course, many food gifts are homemade. My kids and I do Chex mix. As in 20 pounds of it. Not kidding. It takes about five bottles of Worcestershire sauce and 2 1/2 pounds of butter, plus all the other usual ingredients. In addition, we add pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, Bugles, oyster crackers, and those tasty honey mustard and onion pretzel pieces from Snyder’s of Hanover.
It’s such a large quantity, we mix it in a four-foot plastic storage tote. The process takes a good four hours, but it’s a food feat we enjoy.
Other families do homemade goodies such as cookies, fudge, popcorn balls and spiced nuts, and no doubt would agree their effort also is a joyful labor of love.
Popular food-related gifts run the gamut from cookbooks to gadgetry to linens. For the better part of her 90 years, my Aunt Mary gave tablecloths at the holidays. Kitchen appliances are hot items, such as stand mixers, margarita machines and Keurig coffee makers. Also trendy this year are home soda pop makers and beer-making kits.
At World Market, two foodie items sold out at lightning speed. “Cookie stampers and true gingerbread houses,” said manager Holly Harrold. Leading the list right now?
“Coffee as always, and of course Nyaker’s Ginger Snaps, those go without saying. And it seems chocolate-covered pretzels must be the new rage. We have several such as a peanut butter chocolate and a white caramel swirl.”
We took a little survey around town to ask people about their holiday food-themed gifts. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for your own giving.
“I get my grandma and grandpa Heggy’s chocolates and nuts every year. I get the peanuts, cashews and pecans. They are in their 80s so there is nothing really to get them, but they love candy and nuts and are always happy with that.”
Melissa Albaugh, 28, Plain Township.
“I make homemade cheesecakes to give to my neighbors. They’re more like a cheesecake pie, they are really creamy and moist, and the are just to die for. I do strawberry, red raspberry, pineapple and plain.” — Debbie Welden, 59, Lake Township.
“I make homemade molasses crisp cookies to give out. It’s a little like a gingersnap but with molasses. It’s a recipe from my great-grandmother.” — Debbie Hatherill, 60, Washington Township.
“Being Italian, I like to give a bottle of wine with a dish of my homemade pizzelles; the traditional recipe with the anise in them.” Claire Gatti, Jackson Township.
Page 2 of 3 - “I make homemade chocolate and peanut butter fudge with my grandma (Patricia Mook). We’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. A lot of times I end up eating a lot of it, and that’s always the best part. We give it out to relatives.“ — Tyler Mook, 18, Hartville.
“I’m getting my girlfriend a garbage disposal. She’s been wanting one for a couple of years, so she’s getting one this year.” — Dustin Young, 39, Alliance.
“I give signature cheese boxes to business partners and staff. I like it to be local products so I get them from Rita Shisler at Shisler Cheese House in Sugarcreek Township. They include a variety of cheeses, mustards, trail bologna, summer sausage, Heggy’s chocolates. I also give cannoli I get shipped from Termini Brothers Bakery in Philadelphia. It’s the best cannoli available in the United States.” — Dr. Robert Devies, 66, Marlboro Township.
“I’m making homemade peanut brittle this year, it’s a microwave recipe that really cuts down on time.” — Carolyn Dugan, Alliance.
“I always like to give a bottle of wine if I know people well enough and know what they like.” — Philip Welden, 32, Plain Township.
“This year I’m doing batches of the Barefoot Contessa’s hazelnut granola. The only thing I changed from the recipe is that instead of hazelnuts I add Heggy’s fresh nut mix with cashews, almonds, pecans and Brazil nuts. This granola is to die for. I’m going to World Market to get little jars to put it in, or you could put it in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon to make it festive. You can eat it for breakfast, or as a snack. I highly recommend eating it as a cereal with almond milk.” — Monica Jacobson, Plain Township. (See recipe).
“I make chocolate-covered pretzel rods with dark chocolate and put them in little Christmas bags. I also make cookies. And I bought a dozen two-pound boxes of Heggy’s. I love that stuff.” — Rev. Thomas Dyer, 70, Louisville.
“We’ve given our home-raised roasting chickens in the past (cleaned and frozen). This year we are doing wedding cookies, and we always do oranges for our older neighbors.“ — Debbie Frederick, 42, Beloit.
“I definitely give gift cards. For my kids, I get Quaker Steak, Applebee’s and McDonald’s for stocking stuffers. I usually do a 10-pack of Starbucks, which are just good to have for people like the mailman and the hair girl. And for my parents, or my son and his girlfriend, I’ll get a restaurant gift card and movie passes. That way the whole evening is planned and they don’t have to spend money on anything.” — Peggy Mosnot, 47, North Canton.
“My kids and I do cookie trays for teachers, and we always try to do Heggy’s chocolate and peanuts.” — Kent Kerchner, 47, Louisville.
Page 3 of 3 - ROASTED HAZELNUT GRANOLA
1 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the granola, toss the hazelnuts, cashews, oatmeal, almonds, coconut, oil, and honey together in a large bowl until they are completely combined. Pour onto a sheet pan and bake, stirring occasionally with a metal spatula, until the mixture turns an even golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, scrape the pan with the spatula to loosen the granola, and allow to cool, stirring once. Makes 4 cups.
*Monica Jacobson’s version: Instead of the hazelnuts and cashews, add two cups of Heggy’s fresh roasted mixed nuts.