Gifts made in your Thermomix
It has clicked over to October - although it is hard to believe at the moment, there are only a few weeks before we all start thinking about what to get whom... where from... how... and so on.
It is fantastic that we can make our own gifts so very easily in the Thermomix - some can be made at the last minute... some take a little time.. but with some forethought and just a few easy steps, you will be sure that you have plenty of home made goodies that can double up as fabulous home made gifts, or to be used to supplement your pantry over the summer months - those months were we entertain more often than we do in the winter.
There are lists of what you could make for gifts (which I've included at the bottom of this post) - so I do not want to "re-invent the wheel" as they say, but I do want to give you some information so you can prepare your gifts easily and in plenty of time.
The very important things you need to think of when you are thinking gifts, before you even start making anything are:
- Are they the appropriate size for the family/person you are giving it to? For instance = giving 500g jars of produce to a pensioner living alone might be daunting - S/He might appreciate several smaller jars. Same too for spices - several small jars of different spices might be more appreciated than a huge container of curry powder (for instance)
- Do you have enough Jars? If you are making several litres/kilos of jam or sauce.... will you have enough jars/containers to store it all in?
- Are they the RIGHT container? Making several batches of jam and storing it in several large batches of plastic containers means that you need to store them all in the fridge or the freezer - however, good sealing jars which can be sterilized, can be sealed and stored in the pantry for 12-24 months until needed
- Sterilise all your containers and use the appropriate state of cleanliness while making your gifts. Need it be said?
- Bulk Quantaties in the Thermomix
- Do you need to increase the recipe? Make sure you do not overload the Thermomix. "But it's tough" I hear you say, of course it is! Howerever...
- Grinding...... if you need to grind 1 KILO of chick peas into flour, you will get a BETTER result for the actual flour if you grind it in 200-250g lots than if you grind it all together. Not only would you overload the machine - but you will sour your flour (I'm a poet and didn't know it!) Grinding a kilo of chickpeas (or anything) would take many minutes and you will create a LOT of heat just due to the friction. That excess heat will kill the nutrients in the flour/spice and may even make it go rancid quite quickly.
- Cooking...... If the recipe doesn't make a great deal, you ARE able to increase the quantity with a few common sense guidlines.
- Make sure the resulting mix does not have more than 2 litres
- Doubling the recipe does not, generally, mean doubling the time. I would suggest you increase the time by 20-30% initially and increase if needed.
- CRUCIAL: now, this did happen to me and it really threw me so CAUTION!! Cooking for longer than the recipe calls for, or repeating the recipe, might mean that you are cooking food onto the base of your thermomix. That is generally ok for the first batch, but if you leave it on when you put in the second batch, the sensors that regulate heat might be obscured by the build up of the food and will not cook correctly. If, after cooking the first batch, there is food cooked onto the base of your Thermomix, CLEAN IT OFF!! If, after cooking the first batch, there is nothing there but a small smear of sauce/jam/whatever, then you can go straight into another batch.
- It is CRUCIAL that you label your gifts correctly! Not only does it make it look exceedinly lovely and special, but your recipient needs to know what it IS, when it was made and what is in it. They might be offering samples to their friends who have specific allergies
- Do not forget to put USE BY dates on your gifts, and/or storage requirements... for instance, if I actually part with any of the chocolate salami I intend making next week.... I'll be putting a label on it that includes a note to keep it stored in the refridgerator.
- It is easy to make up labels on your computer. Use a table on a word document and cut around the squares with decroative scissors.
- Include cooking instructions and/or ideas how to use the product if you are giving things like pasta sauces.
- There are so many people putting in lots of effort to help you make your food/gifts properly. I would like to thank everyone who has ever put up a recipe and/or hints and tips for us all. It is sometimes a thankless task to write a newsletter or develop/convert a recipe. The hard work that many people put in to their websites are often taken for granted and greeted with merely a "give me more" or "it's not fair that they get more attention". I want to ensure those tireless people that their effort IS greatly appreciated - Thank you!! If you have any tips that you would like included, put it in the comments below and I'll add it if appropriate to the topic In the mean time, I have included some of the information that I have put together over the years.
- Jar information, including how to make the contents last longer. HERE is my blog
- Making sure your jam sets. Here is my blog
- Information about spices. Here is my blog
- How long WILL things last? Here is my blog
Now we actually get to WHAT to give people for gifts!! Never, never, EVER underestimate the value placed on home made gifts!! There are people who still have no idea that things that they thought could ONLY be bought, can be made cheaper, easily and healthier!! There are others who do know all too well, but just don't have the time, ingredients and/or equipment to make them. Even other Thermomix owners apprecieate a home made gift, particularly if they have not tried a particular recipe.
Pulses and Beans - Have you ever had home cooked Chick Peas - they are FABULOUS!!! People who would not normally enjoy them (er... like me) could be surprised at how delicious they taste (er... like me)
Stocks - A jar of Vegetable, Soup and/or Meat stock is GREATLY appreciated by non-Thermomix owners. These have a long useby date (up to 6 months) in the fridge, so you can even make them up now. Some stock examples are:
Spreads - Making your spreads with short lived ingredients like butter and/or eggs? Your useby date will be quite short. Make these close to when you are going to give them.
- Lemon Curd - or Lemon Butter - a massive hit with most people!
- Other Curd/butter flavour ideas
- Any citrus like Orange, Lime, Lemon or combinations like Lemon, Lime & Mint
- Jaffa (Orange and chocolate)
- Hazelnut / Chocolate Spread
- Raztella - the hazelnut chocolate spread WITHOUT nuts - recipe here
Spices and Sugars - Nothing nicer than a lovely jar of spice or flavoured sugar! Although - particularly with spices - remember that with whole seeds/spices you have a year or three's useby date - once you grind them they will start to lose potency. It won't happen right away, but I would use a spice mix within 8-12 months to get the very best from them. The more often the jars are opened the quicker they lose their flavour so give these in small, airtight containers.
- You only need to google the terms "home made spice mixes" (or sugar mixes) to get a lovely list of mixes you can make yourself. some ideas....
- Taco mix
- Curry mix
- Italian Herb mix
- Vanilla Sugar
- Citrus Sugar (make sure you use dried peel so it lasts longer)
- Cinnamon Sugar
- My Vanilla Paste recipe is always a good gift - everyone loves it! Here is the recipe
- Here is the link to one spice mix that I give away quite often - although it requires me to provide a "how to" recipe guide, people just love home made KFC.
- I have a converted a couple of spice recipes in my time, my favourite it the Burning Love Spice Mix
Marinades - oh yum! People won't believe just how nice PROPER marinades, without fillers and additives, actually taste!! Some should be used immediately, some within a week, some within the month. You should be able to put into a glass jar and vacuum seal it to allow it to sit in the pantry for 6-8 months before opening. Label well
Jams and Chutneys - The high sugar and/or vinegar levels will allow, when stored in sterilised glass jars and vacuum sealed, last you a good 12 months in the pantry before opening, with another 2-3 months in the fridge once opened. There are millions of jam recipes out there, you only need to search. Remember my hints on Jam Making - who knew that you needed some UNripe fruit to make it set properly!! Some of our fabourite recipes.....
- Tamarillo Chutney - fantastic on sandwiches but even better used instead of tomato sauce (ketchup) and absolutely brilliant with Cheese. Recipe here
- Cauliflower Pickles - converted recipe here
- This Sweet Apple Chutney is fabulous with cheese - recipe here
- Make your jams special by adding in some very unusual, but not difficult to obtain ingredients - like
- Rose petals
- Rose Water
- Vanilla Paste/Sugar (Vanilla Essence, the proper stuff, may evaporate out of the mix, so use the paste, the sugar or the real thing) I've made orange vanilla jam and it was DELISH!!
Chocolatey things - Chocolate making in the Thermomix couldn't be easier! From simple chocolate shapes to fancy infused chocolate - my hints are to follow the recipe and make sure you do not grind your chocolate in too large a batch - OR your chocolate will melt before you have ground it all! Each recipe should have useby recommendations in it - but lets face it - chocolate is never around for long!! Some ideas to get you started...
- Here are my hints on making truffles
- There is a great Honey Truffle recipe free with the free option of the In The Mix app for your phone or tablet
- Google "thermomix chocolate truffle recipes" to get a squillion recipes ideas
- Here is a link to a thermomix chocolate related site that seems to have limited action, but has some good tips and information
- Raw Chocolate and raw chocolate truffles are an exciting gift. Try making your OWN chocolate! There are heaps of recipes out there, Jo from Quirky Cooking is foremost in my mind when you think of raw chocolate goodies!
- The very famous and fabulous Chocolate Salami! My hints here and the recipe here. MAKE this EARLY to ge tthe full flavour of it infused. Helene from Super Kitchen Machine suggests to make it 4-6 weeks before eating.
- Fudges - SO very easy to make in your thermomix!!! Here's the recipe for my yummy Rum River Fudge, Here's hints on how to make the Wicked Fudge from the Festive Cookbook - search the internet for your favourite!
- Remember to make yourself a hot chocolate with any remaining chocolate in the TM bowl after you have finished!!
- Your own Caramel (Dulce de Leche) is tricky but yummy!! Recipe here
- Quince Paste - best recipe is from the In The Mix cookbook (1st one)
- Apple and Raspberry Paste - recipe here
- Pastilla - also from the In The Mix cookbook (1st one)
- Easy Nougat - Recipe here
Favoured and/or Scented Vinegars & Oils - Here is another section with squillions of recipes online. Best shown off in glass jars - the prettier the jar the better - these should last for a year or two just on the shelf of your pantry HOWEVER - if you have any perishable ingredients in the bottle too (eg: herbs and/or garlic) Make sure they are COMPLETELY immersed at all times or the bits sticking out will go off quickly.
Soups and (pasta style) sauces
- Never underestimate the joy that having a home made soup given to you. Remember that people usually over cater around holiday time and they might not get to the soup for a while. Put the soup in a container that is easily frozen
- Pasta sauces can be placed in large, sterilised, jars and then vacuum sealed. Then they should last 6-12 months in the pantry before being used
- It is so easy to make our own butter!! Everyone loves it - but you might feel funny giving just a tub of home made butter.... flavouring it is an option. Here are some recipe idea
s. Butter itself should last a while in a cool environment - but any "extras", like seasonings, herbs, spices and/or any leftover buttermilk can make it go off quite quickly - garlic butter, for instance, should be used within 3 days. Roll the flavoured butter into a sausage shape and freeze. That way people can cut off a "disk" and use when needed.
Flours - although we grind our own flour because we KNOW that grinding fresh is best and that some flours go rancid so quickly - that shouldn't preclude you from grinding some fresh to give away. Explain to your gift recipient that it is best stored in the freezer. Some examples....
- Almond Meal
- Hazelnut Meal
- Besam Flour (Chickpeas)
- Arrowroot Flour (Tapioca)
- Rice Flour
- Oat Meal
- Buckwheat flour
Cordials - Using the EDC (that comes iwth the Thermomix) recipe for Berry Cordial, extrapolate that into other fabulous cordials - here are some ideas that I have used to GREAT effect
- Pineapple cordial
- Lime / Lemon cordial (ONLY use the juice, not the fruit, or it will be bitter)
- Orange and Mango (same deal applies, juice the orange, don't use the fruit)
- Chai Tea Concentrate (fancy word meaning... cordial!) recipe here
Alcoholic drinks - Steralise the bottles of course! However the high concentration of alcohol may keep your gift for months and even years! Some, like chocolate whisky drink (My Way of Cooking book), might need refridgerating - be cautious with your labelling. Do NOT put in a bottle easily opened by kiddies.
Body Products and Cleaning powders
- oh HOW can I possibly talk about Gifting and NOT suggest my book!! How about home made lip balms, hand creams, body lotions or even washing powders.... here is the link to some info
Baking - Breads, Cakes and Bikkies - although short in shelf life... these are VERY welcome indeed! You can even make your baked goods into appropriate shapes! I made a santa shaped Brioche and star shaped bikkies last year. Some ideas....
- Gluten Free Breads and bikkies
- Short Bread
- Gingerbread - bikkies or cakes or even houses!
- Sweet or savoury breads
- There are, as mentioned before, sqillions of free recipes online, but if you would like an actual book - either for yourself or for a gift. There are some great books available from your Thermomix Consultant or Distributor - here is a list available in Australia
through the Australian Distributer.
Recipe Lists - Some VERY helpful people have put together lists of great gifting ideas already, thank you ladies for all your hard work!!....
As usual, my idea of a quick list turned out to be bigger than Ben Hur! I would love to just keep going and list hundreds of suggestion but I have run out of time!! I hope that you get some ideas from this post and it gets you started. X