Recipes by Amy Lord
Your child can appreciate the joy of giving, particularly when she helps create the gift. In fact, it's the process of planning and preparing the present that makes the experience meaningful. A gift from the kitchen is a great place to start.
By involving your child in every step, from compiling the ingredients to packaging and wrapping, you can foster a tradition of giving that will last a lifetime. Your child will learn how to think about friends and family members and imagine what type of gift might make them happy. Does Aunt Jill love drinking tea? Does Daddy have a sweet tooth? What about your child's preschool teacher? Perhaps she loves pancakes! Your child will get excited thinking about what to make and her imagination can run wild. Remember kids invent the darnedest things — and you can help make their ideas a reality.
You can help your child write a shopping list and set up a time when you will create the gift. Once the food is made, it's fun (and educational) to embark on a hunt for just the right style of container. Apply the "Goldilocks principle" by asking your child to find one that's not too small or too big; one that is just right! She might want to create her own labels, decorations, or wrapping paper. Help her contain it, wrap it up, add a bow, and you have a homemade gift from the hands and heart of your child! Here are a few of our favorite ideas:
Calming Herbal Tea Blend
Tuck your tea blend into a special package. Include a fine mesh tea ball with a note listing the herbs you used and brewing instructions.
What you need:
- 1 oz. loose dried hibiscus flowers
- 1 oz. loose dried lemon balm (Melissa) leaves
- 1 oz. loose dried chamomile flowers
What to do:
- Measure herbs into a large re-sealable plastic bag.
- Shake well to combine.
- Divide tea into two cellophane or paper bags and tie with ribbon.
- Help your child write up these brewing instructions: Place about 1 tablespoon of herb tea in your tea ball for each cup of boiling water. Steep for 3 to 5 minutes, and remove tea ball. Sweeten with honey (if desired) and enjoy!
Note: There are many other herbs and spices that can be combined to make a tasty blend. Consider peppermint, lemongrass, raspberry leaves, rooibos, rose hips, and even decaffeinated green tea. You can also add flavors by using whole cloves, a little bit of finely minced vanilla bean, small pieces of cinnamon sticks, or dried orange peel. Loose dried herbs are available at health food stores or through the Frontier Coop.
White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
This recipe yields 35 two-inch pieces of candy. Present them in a pretty, clear box that's perfect for storing small items when the candy has been eaten!
What you need:
- 1 pound white chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces
- 4 large candy canes or 20 Starlite peppermint candies, unwrapped
- 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
What to do:
- Lightly grease a 12 x 17-inch cookie sheet using butter or non-stick cooking spray. Line pan with waxed paper. Lightly grease the paper, and set aside.
- Place peppermint candy into doubled re-sealable plastic bags, place on a cutting board and pound the candy with a small heavy-bottomed saucepan or rolling pin until it is broken into small pieces.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, place chopped chocolate and heat at full power for 30 seconds, remove bowl, stir, and reheat for another 30 seconds. Stir well and reheat for an additional 30 seconds if necessary. White chocolate scorches easily and should be heated only until only small lumps remain. Add the peppermint extract and stir well to finish smoothing out chocolate.
- Pour chocolate into the center of the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula so it is even and approximately 1/4 inch thick. It will not fill the entire sheet. Sprinkle crushed peppermint evenly over the chocolate, press lightly to imbed the candy pieces and place in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes until it is hardened.
- Remove from waxed paper and break into 2-inch pieces with your hands. Pack into decorative boxes or tins lined with parchment or waxed paper.
Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix
Place your mix (this recipe makes five batches) in decorative containers with tight-fitting lids. Include a card with instructions how to make the pancakes.
What you need:
- 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups dry buttermilk powder*
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 tsp. baking powder
- 4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries or blueberries (optional)
*Dry buttermilk powder is available in the baking aisle of many supermarkets or from the King Arthur Flour Company.
What to do:
- Sift all ingredients together (except dried berries) in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine and stir in dried fruit if using.
- Help your child write up these instructions for making batter for a batch of pancakes or waffles: Stir together: 2 cups mix; 1 1/4 cups water; 2 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil.
- Pour mix into a food-safe bag and place in a fun container. Don't forget to provide some syrup—perhaps in a pretty bottle—to complete the meal!