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Jun 7, 2009 07:39 AM

Spring/summer homemade food gifts recs?

We had lots of discussion in November and December about the wide range of homemade food gift ideas.

We've developed a tradition of giving food gifts to the kids' teachers at Christmas and at the end of the year. My mom was a teacher and STILL has lots more mugs and candles and notepads and knick knacks than she could ever use!

Sticking to consumables has let us to customize a bit. The primary classroom teachers got a more elaborate bag (more add-ons) but we were still able to do reasonable gifts for the other teachers (art, music, gym, etc.). (You'd be amazed at how grateful they were to be remembered -- even though they teach every student, they get very few gifts.)

We had been doing thematic gift bags we made from Trader Joe's items. We'd done the nicer pasta with sauce and added jarred caponata, olives, or roasted peppers, or good evoo and balsamic vinegar, etc. We'd also done breakfast themes (tea/coffee, scones, jams).

Last Christmas I decided to go homemade and made jars of homemade hot cocoa mix (regular and dark cocoa), homemade marshmallows, and candies/cookie bars.

Now I'm out of work and I really need to find an inexpensive plan for end-of-the-year gifts. I'm stumped on something more in tune with Spring/Summer! I'm fine with putting in some time and effort. I really do appreciate the terrific teachers at our school, but can't spend much money.

Any inspirations out there? I'm not interested in the Tang/instant tea iced tea mixes (my personal taste), but would love any creative suggestions!

Update: because we deliver these at school -- I need to avoid anything that would need refrigeration, so candies are tougher for late June!

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  1. How many teachers are we talking about here, may I ask? I'm thinking mini quick breads, like blueberry, which uses something in season and therefore not so very expensive. Or lemon-poppy bread, even cheaper; the recipe I use has a glaze over it but you don't have to do that. I'm also thinking of something using fresh herbs...Epi has a rosemary cracker recipe that I keep saying I'll try but haven't yet....LOL, oh my horrible "to try" pile of recipes...sheesh! Maybe some granola too? Oh, what about a jarred dry soup mix? Not sure how expensive that one would be, though, and might be wrong season for soup depending on where you live. Additon: popping corn wrapped up pretty and a gift card for a free movie?

    1. Not sure if this is what you had in mind, but I am a teacher and have also done this for my son's teachers. He's in preschool, so there are always a few to buy for. Can you arrange for the teachers to all have lunch at the same time and order a pizza for them to be delivered to school? Or bring some other kind of take out like/homemade like a pasta dish? Basically you set a date with them, have lunch delivered or deliver it yourself (my son's teachers had access to an oven/fridge, so I sent it the baked ziti in a disposable pan w directions), and they just have to show up and enjoy. I found that the cost was about what I would spend on gifts or perhaps less but much more appreciated by the teachers. I also appreciated it more than yet another mug. For my son's teachers I packed the following:
      - baked ziti in a pan w/directions
      - frozen garlic bread w directions
      - bag of salad w/homemade vinaigrette dressing
      - bag of chocolate chip cookies
      - paper plates, forks, etc
      - a note for each teacher thanking them for a great year

      If you have bigger kids, they could get involved in the process. Also, you could do sandwiches or something that doesn't require heating. Most schools have a frigde in the teachers' lounge.

      1. I love that you do something for the teachers!
        If you're looking for a gift for them to take home you could make a dry spice mix and condiment combo sort of thing. Super easy and inexpensive and you'll probably have some left for you!
        Tandoori seasoning and mint chutney
        BBQ rub and pickled onions
        Cumin thyme salt and preserved lemons.
        etc. etc.
        Not sure what kind of markets you have around but here, in LA dry spices can be found much cheaper (and fresher) than at the big name grocery.

        1. BBQ RUB!!!

          Go to any Mexican grocer and buy the packets of ground spices:
          Ancho chile
          Onion Powder
          Garlic Powder
          Hopefully you can find some dried smoke flavoring somewhere. I know places like Penzey's and the Spice House sell them in Mesquite and Hickory. These are actually quite good imo when used responsibly.
          Brown sugar
          You can web up a real recipe if you're not familiar with making these.
          I'd present them in little spice jars. Print up little labels for the jars on your pc: "eamcd's bbq rub"

          Depending on your limit of $ - especially for jars, you could do several different rubs, like

          one with extra ground chile (Spicy HOT XXX Rub)
          one with ground ginger and clove (Asian Dragon Rub) - seriously! LOL.
          You get the drift, I'm sure.

          1. Here's a link to Gale Gand's herb-tea lollipops. They won't melt! They're supposed to be eaten like a lolly, but I was thinking they'd be good stirrers for hot or ice tea. I forget if she puts lemon zest in as well.


            One year, I made chocolate spoons using a candy mold from the craft store and plastic handles. You might consider that type of mold for the above recipe so the stirrer image is clear.

            Also, many people are firing up their grills. Here's a recipe for a no-salt chili powder rub that I like for beef, chicken, baked sweet potatoes, or sprinkled on oil-brushed tortillas, cut into wedges, baked to make chips. Mix with mashed black beans for a sandwich spread. Of course, use your favorite grill mix, if you have one.

            Chili Powder

            1 teaspoon paprika
            2 teaspoons ground cumin
            1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
            1 teaspoon dried oregano
            2 teaspoons garlic powder

            Spices are expensive, so making this for several teachers, unless you can buy in bulk, might be prohibitive. Consider the little 4-oz. canning jars.

            Za'atar is another spice mixture that can be made at home. It uses mostly dried thyme which makes it more cost-friendly. My friend makes a garlic/cheese bread using za'atar that is really delicious. I'll get you the recipe if you want to attach it to the bags as a suggested use.

            Otherwise, I'm on board with quick breads, even though you've done this before. Maybe savory quick breads this time, like bacon/cheddar or feta/spinach. There was a discussion on CH not too long ago. I'll try to find it.

            Edit: This might give you some ideas.