Friday, December 18, 2009

Garden gifts

The garden isn’t good only for the weekly menu; it can also be a great source of gifts. I’ve created gifts from my garden for the past few years. When I do this, I can be sure the recipient will not have received another gift like it!

Here are a few gift ideas:

1. Herb butter. One year when my herbs were still fresh and prolific in December, I set out butter to soften then mixed in the chopped herbs. I made homemade bread and packaged it all to give as gifts.

2. Sun-dried tomatoes. I like growing Principe Borghese tomatoes, which make wonderfully flavorful sun-dried tomatoes you can store for months. These I’ve packaged two different ways: one is to keep them dry and put them in a nice, air-tight storage jar with instructions to rehydrate before using; the second is to rehydrate them and place them in a jar with olive oil and perhaps some herbs. (I confess, I once forgot to rehydrate before filling the jar; I’m sure the recipients wondered why I thought I had given her a nice gift!) Because a lot of people haven’t cooked with sun-dried tomatoes, you might also want to include a recipe to use them in.

3. This year, I’m making gourd birdhouses. My cousin Harry prompted this idea when he gave me a gourd earlier this year. I turned it into a birdhouse that now hangs on our front porch. So when I saw gourds at the farmer’s market this summer, I thought that would be a good gift to make for some family and friends. I’m in the midst of painting them now, so when they are complete I’ll take some pictures to post. I’m following these instructions.

Next year, I might plant my own gourds now that I have saved some seeds. Or perhaps I’ll find another gift idea that warrants its own corner of the garden.

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