This feels like a practical year, a wool-sweater moment. People seem to feel insecure about spending and frivolity and overconsumption. Cooks who aren’t particularly craftsy are giving friends gifts they’ve made, not just cookies — though who can resist a bag of cookies? — but pantry and fridge items to get harried moms and dads through the work week.
If there’s someone on your list who falls into that category, make their nightly suppers a breeze with pint jars of homemade red sauce. Reheat the sauce, boil spaghetti, and dinner is done. Expand the gift with a wedge of Parmesan or some good olive oil, and a few other
pasta-night necessities, and you’ll be doing your friends a huge favor.
Families with children will love a multigrain pancake mix they can scoop out by the cupful and turn into batter with buttermilk, an egg, and oil or melted butter. That priceless gift can also be wrapped with related items, like a nonstick skillet and maple syrup.
A jar of sweet and salty pecans should go to anyone who cherishes cocktail hour or a glass of wine by the fireplace.
And if you do decide to go the cookie route, keep to the warm socks theme with these plain but pleasing cookie-jar cookies: oatmeal-date with an old-fashioned look and soft, chewy roasted-almond rounds, both simple batters that get no adornments, no squiggles of white icing to turn them into little men and ladies or reindeer, no sprinkles, no colored sugar. They’re all comfort.
This is a year when a gift from the heart will feel like gold.Sheryl Julian can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.