Last year our family decided to bake, rather than buy, gifts for our friends and relatives. And we discovered that simple ingredients, willing hands, basic kitchen equipment, and several hours' time are all it takes to make a satchel of baked gifts Santa would be proud to deliver. Furthermore, the gift-making process turned out to be more fun than shopping had ever been, and our presents were well received; in fact, you might say the folks who got them really ate them up!
I began our project by assembling three of our family's best-loved holiday recipes. Julekage is a rich, cardamom-flavored bread that's traditionally served on Christmas morning in Denmark, my husband's native country. The children's favorite was next: crisp gingerbread cookies. (I had redesigned the recipe to include only whole grains and unrefined sweeteners.) The third is a festive nutty and fruity granola that's as delicious for snacking as it is for breakfast. This trio of recipes yielded 20 generous and very tasty gifts, and filled the home pantry as well. The total cost of the ingredients, at current prices in our area, is less than $60. With simple and attractive packaging, then, your gifts could cost less than $4 apiece!
This year we're again looking forward to our baking session with enthusiasm. There's a special quality to home-cooked gifts, still fragrant from the oven and decorated with real ribbons. And mixed with the ingredients in these gifts is something of the earth — from whose bounty came the grains — and something of our own love and labor ... all blended into an offering to nourish both the body arid the spirit.