By Dahlia Haas
Food styling by Dahlia Haas and Janet Miller
Photography by Dahlia Haas and Robert Reiff
To celebrate the coming holiday season nothing is more special than home-made gifts. This year, bypass the mall and the usual retail frenzy. Break out the cutting boards, gather up cooking supplies and create delectable edibles for everyone on your holiday list.
Food gifts prepared with island fruit and local products mean more to those we want to thank than a bottle of wine, kitchen gadget or another new shirt. A homemade present comes straight from the heart.
The holidays can be exhilarating or exhausting.My sister Ali finishes all her holiday shopping before Thanksgiving rolls around. If you are like me, you’re buying gifts and wrapping till the midnight Christmas Eve. Last year, rather than shop, my daughter Lauren and I baked chocolate streusel cakes laced with Bacardi for everyone—teachers, neighbors, friends, even the local UPS man! The cakes were a huge hit and we had the best time cooking together. If you are cooking for a big family get-together, why not set aside a day or two to prepare gifts to bag, box, bottle or wrap? It’s a simple solution for holiday gift -giving.
This year we scouted garage sales for ceramic dishes and wooden platters and saved empty jars and pretty boxes, knowing we needed them for our end-of-the-year project.
We are making treasured family recipes such as Big Island Toffee with Macadamia Nuts, No Ka Oi Mango Chutney and a new take on gifts made with aloha, Hawaiian Sweet and Spicy Preserved Meyer Lemons and Paradise Cheese Crisps with Black and GreenWasabi Sesame Seeds.
If you have little time and less cooking experience, the mango chutney is fast and too easy. Quadruple the recipes, make the toffee while the chutney simmers, and in a few hours you will have finished two of these recipes and have gifts for 20 people. Make what you need and then make some more. Plan on making least 15 extra gifts; you’ll need them.
Who can resist a homemade gift? Certainly no one on my list. There is a perfect and practical justification for why I love to make gifts at home: stamina, preserving my energy for dancing, surfing and entertaining. And don’t forget the smug feeling of getting your holiday shopping done without ever leaving your hale sweet hale.