Food Wise: The Gift of Homemade Food

| 12/11/2008 3:31:43 PM

Last August I decided to give my brother-in-law something different for his birthday. I looked through lots of catalogues, websites and in stores, but I wanted to give him something I made. I am not good at making crafts, but I can bake, so I decided to give him my own version of the cookie-of-the-month.

While you can purchase this service as a gift to yourself or others, I found that the benefits of doing this myself are many: I can save money by making the cookies, choose the type of cookie I make and customize it for my brother-in-law. I can control the ingredients, too. My brother-in-law loves whole, natural and organic foods. I can also keep a couple of cookies from each batch for myself, for quality control, of course.

In September Paul received about a dozen chewy chocolate chip cookies and a card that informed him that for the following six months he would receive a batch of cookies a month; a full year was too long a commitment. I asked my sister for his favorites, and so far he has been pretty happy with the results. My sister and her eldest daughter are happy, too, though I have the feeling they are the ones eating most of the cookies.

So far my gift has been successful. Paul likes to get the cookies, and for both of us it has been more meaningful that buying/getting a shirt. It hasn’t been all easy, however; it takes time to bake and ship the cookies, and the Blondies—a kind of crossover between a cookie and a brownie—I sent in November were not Paul’s favorite (I forgot he doesn’t like nuts). I made it up to him by making his favorite, oatmeal raisin cookies, the following month.

I get recipes from different books and websites, but my favorite cookbook is The New Best Recipe. The recipes usually call for white flour and granulated sugar, but I just substitute my ingredients and so far I haven’t had problems, although most cookies are drier and heavier and they tend to not rise as much. I make every cookie with organic whole wheat flour, organic eggs, organic butter, organic turbinado sugar, organic chocolate and pure organic vanilla extract. Even with a heavier texture, they taste better to me.

I wrap the cookies in as little parchment paper I can get away with, and pack them in used to-go containers I save. I ship them in used boxes with used packing material I have left over from wedding gifts. This gift is very eco-friendly.