Culinary Sleuth

Gifts From the Heart of the Kitchen


by Lynn Kerrigan


The subject is holiday giving and even though your Halloween pumpkin probably isn't carved yet, it's not too early to start thinking about gifts. This does not imply that I approve of decorated trees and chubby Santa's appearing in store displays as soon as the last trick or treat has been uttered. This practice diminishes the specialness of the holidays. I hope you follow today's trendsetters by shunning commercial presents in favor of an abundance of homemade gifts bountifully piled about the hearth.

In our rush-about-world we are often painfully aware the best gift we can give is ourselves. Time spent with elderly grandparents, aunts and uncles brings more joy than wads of cash or ten cashmere sweaters. Our parents could make use of a large dose of appreciation, a hug and a much under-used I Love You and our siblings are sure to appreciate a loving word as well. Our children are the ones who can really benefit from our undivided attention rather than a bunch of Matchbox cars but I'm sure if I gave my own children a few hugs on Christmas morning sans gaily wrapped boxes, there would be huge disappointment. Alas, I was a willing participant in the abundance of Christmas Past and instilled in their gift loving hearts that the holiday did indeed mean PRESENTS. However, I do recall one Christmas I made a scrapbook for each child from newspaper clippings, photos, award certificates, report cards and poems created just for them. They seemed to like that gift a lot. I notice it occupies a permanent place on my daughter's bookcase. That is an honor. The Karaoke she begged for one year sits in the cellar sprouting cobwebs. Joe's scrapbook is tucked away in his foot locker that I take as a compliment instead of the alternative (not wanting anyone to see the silly thing). I am hoping those memory books get passed down to their own children, a permanent record of their childhood days.

Instead of flashing a piece of plastic this winter, flash a smile and make something with your hands. I promise you your gift will create more memories and hold more love than any figurine, striped tie or fleece robe and slipper set.


Beverage Mixes


Try mixing up a batch of these mixes and package in a festive holiday tin with instructions and a copy of the recipe. Box it up with personalized mugs, cinnamon sticks and a bag of marshmallows. Add a carton of your homemade cookies and you have a present for a whole household. Add a video or board game and your gift becomes an evening of entertainment and snacks, a memory maker.

Orange-Spiced Coffee

Place all ingredients in a 1 gallon ziplock bag, seal and shake. Spoon into airtight containers. Use like regular ground coffee.

Spiced Tea Mix

Mix and store in closed container. Use 2 teaspoonfuls per cup of boiling water.

Cappuccino Mix

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Store in an airtight container. To serve, place 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mix in a cup. Add 1 cup boiling water; stir well. Great served with a scoop of ice cream or whipped topping. Yields about 33 servings.

Minted Cocoa Coffee Mix

In large bowl or container, combine all ingredients; mix well. Store in tightly covered container. To serve, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons mix into cup or mug; fill with boiling water. Stir to blend. If desired, garnish with whipped cream.

Cafe Mocha Mix

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Store in an airtight container. Makes 1 cup of mix, enough for 8 to 12 servings. To Serve: Combine 1 or 2 tablespoons of mix with 3/4 cup boiling water.

Viennese Coffee Mix

Combine and put in a festive airtight container. To mix, add 4 heaping teaspoons to 8 oz. boiling water.

Cocoa Mix

Mix the above ingredients well and store in an airtight container. Add four teaspoons of mix to a cup of boiling water for a quick cup of cocoa.


Next month I'll feature more gifts from the heart of the kitchen and some unique ways to package them, so by December you should have the gift obligation all wrapped up.


Copyright 1996 Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.

Culinary Sleuth Archive

This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007