Your Best Recipes May Be the Best Gift of the Season

People who love to cook, and I'm one of them, are always on the lookout for recipes. We clip them from magazines, troll the Internet, and keeping buying cookbooks. Tantalizing recipes always seem to be calling us. Relatives and friends have asked me for recipes and I share them willingly.

Chinese almond cookies are one of my best recipes. A friend gave me the recipe years ago and I modified it to suit my tastes. From the first bite, to the last crumb, these cookies are a winner. My grandson thinks they are so good I could sell them at street fairs. Your favorite recipes could become a welcome gift. Answer these questions before you get started.

Are you going to share general recipes or limit choices to one category? Choose recipes that represent you, such as homemade yeast and quick breads. Think of the gift recipient as well. A friend who doesn't bake won't appreciate cookie recipes, for example. On the other hand, this same friend may appreciate five-ingredient recipes.

How many will you share? One Christmas I made cookbooks for relatives. The collection came from Nana's recipe boxes. I printed out the recipes on holiday stationery, put them in plastic sleeves, assembled them in three-ring binders, and put Nana's photo on the cover. Since this was a labor intensive process, I limited the number to 25. You may also want to include a photo with each recipe.

What printing method will you use? You may put recipes on 3" x 5" cards, or enter them in your computer, and print them out on 8 1/2" x 11" paper. The file card method requires handwriting, whereas the computer method allows you to create multiple gifts. Whether you handwrite recipes or print them out, they should be easy to read. Do not print recipes in a cursive font.

Will your gift or gifts include samples? If you share cookie recipes, your gift may include a dozen cookies. Bread recipes may include a loaf of French bread. Jam and jelly recipes may include a sample in a decorative jar. At this time of year, cooking supply manufacturers produce holiday jars, decorative lids and tins.

Do you need to credit a cookbook author or relative? This is a precautionary measure, and you may not have to do it. Still, it's nice to credit a family member or friend. You may credit the person in the title, such as Aunt Edith's All Beef Meatloaf. It's my understanding that making three changes to a recipe, title, measurement, ingredients, make the recipe yours.

Are you going to add something extra? You may put a collection of slow cooker recipes in a new cooker. Candy recipes may be packaged in a candy dish or jar. Casserole recipes may include a lasagna pan. When I made cookbooks for family members, I included a rubber spatula with each one. Once you start thinking about extras, you will come up with dozens of ideas.

Family members and friends will appreciate your gift because it is so thoughtful. They will appreciate it even more if you share recipes they have wanted for years. Good recipes and good food bring people together year-round.

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