Gift-giving is a skill that not everybody has and sometimes you just need a little bit of inspiration. That’s what I’m here for! The key to a perfect gift is one that keeps on giving, so it won’t be left and forgotten about after just one use. Obviously, not everyone is into cooking so would appreciate something like this Custom cutting board for their kitchen and, whilst this might be a cooking blog, you might be looking for something a little more universal. Have you thought about gifting a family portrait, for example? I’ve found that the best acrylic prints are at Bumblejax, so all you need to do is snap a beautiful family photo and get it printed. Your gift recipient is sure to love it so much that they hang it on the wall straight away! Anyway, back to cooking – take a look at my gift suggestions below:
Have you noticed how much I am loving my copy of Clean Food by Terry Walters? I got it a few short weeks ago and suddenly all of my other cookbooks are badly neglected. Clean Food magically has recipes for all of the food that I want to eat RIGHT NOW. What exactly does that mean? I want to eat high nutrient, low calorie, fresh, primarily vegetable dishes. And this cookbook covers an incredible variety of just that. With simple tweaking to lessen the already fairly low quantity of oil in her recipes, if not eliminate the oil all together, it’s like Ms.Watlers wrote a personal cookbook just for me.
So imagine my excitement when my friend QB walked into my house the other day holding her copy of Ms. Walter’s brand new book, Clean Start. It took me 24 hours to acquire my very own copy and another 24 to make my first recipe from it, Sauteed Greens with Leeks and Garlic. Let’s just say, I might die right now and go to heaven!
Both incredible cookbooks to give yourself or a loved one who is on a health quest, it would be truly magnificent to present your gift with a container of something that you prepared using one of Ms. Walter’s recipes. Hence, my second holiday gift idea . . .
When I cook, I tend to make a lot. I do this because my time in the kitchen is really limited and I want to eat great, healthy, whole, real food all of the time. Oftentimes, because I double most recipes that I make, I have so much that even I can’t keep it all. That’s where my friends and neighbors come in handy! They are always happy to share in the bounty. So it got me thinking, if a large batch of soup is the gift you give yourself that keeps on giving, it could also be the gift that you give for the holidays that is creative, unique and certainly more useful than, well, most of what we give for the holidays! Just make a big pot full, freeze it in plastic containers, and it’s always ready to pop in a gift bag whenever you head over to someone’s home for holiday festivities.
adapted from a recipe in Clean Food by Terry Walters
2 thumb-size pieces kombu
3 tbsp vegetable broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound mushrooms (any type), chopped
5 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup hulled barley, rinsed
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup mirin
2 Tbsp tamari
12 cups water2 15 ounce cans beans of your choice (kidney beans, canellini beans, really any beans will be fine), drained and rinsed
1 large bunch kale, rinsed, removed from stems and chopped
sea salt and pepper
Place kombu in a bowl with enough water to cover, soak for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain, mince and set aside.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute onion in vegetable broth for 4 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms and stir. Cook for 3 more minutes. Add carrots, celery, barley, lentils, parsley, basil, bay leaf, mirin and tamari. Stir to combine, add water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, add kombu and continue cooking covered for 2 1/2 hours (it’s okay if it cooks longer, it will not hurt the soup). Add beans and chopped kale and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Taste soup and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator (for up to 1 week) or in freezer (in airtight containers) for gift giving!