Edible gifts are the best. End of story.
The Fella took this picture in our Dublin apartment in early December 2008. I was pretty intent on making, oh about 10 bazillion litres of jam and so didn’t notice when he crept up behind me. That was the year the Irish recession was just starting to take hold, and boy did it take us all by surprise.
For most of the preceding Christmases, I ran up huge credit card bills buying unnecessary presents for both of our families. Not that the gifts were unnecessary, I like giving people gifts, but I think we’d kind of lost the true spirit of it. I know I’m at risk of sounding like cheesy American film, but bear with me here. We bought things just for the sake of giving them, without really thinking if the recipient would need, or even like the gift. We were also buying for so many people; getting ‘something small’ for The Fella’s-cousin’s-ex-boyfriend’s-neighbour-because-they-sat-beside-us-in-the-pub-one-night suddenly became perfectly reasonable. Celtic-tiger Ireland was certainly a place to behold.
Then in 2008 I had what the Australians call a ‘dummy spit’. I had been working in a high-pressure sales job and was watching the market contract before my very eyes. But also on a personal level, I’d just had enough of the excess, the waste, and most of all, the pressure. So I went on-line and ordered two cases of jam jars; and that was my Christmas shopping done. It took all of 10 minutes.
I ended up making a trio of preserves: chili and tomato relish, rhubarb and ginger jam and lemon and orange marmalade. I packaged them all together in cute little bags and gave them as gifts to friends and family alike. I wish I had a picture of them, but this was long before I had ever even thought of blogging.
They were the most successful presents I ever gave. Small, thoughtful, delicious; but most of all: useful.
Since then, I’ve never reverted back to the mass-consumer gift giving. The Fella and I have pared back our list and our spending. Of course, we don’t make everything we give, but we do try to put in a little more thought into what we give and to whom. And this year everyone we love will be getting a jar of this delicious curd on various special occasions.
I made this a few weeks ago with the last of the autumn passion fruit, and oh my god was it delicious. It lasted all of two days in our fridge, and that was with us trying to be self-controlled! It’s like lemon curd but it gets an extra little bit of tang from the passionfruit, also the seeds give it a lovely bit of texture. It could go on absolutely anything from pie-crust to scones to ice-cream or meringue. And best of all you can personalise your labels or jars and turn it into the perfect (and dare I say it: pretty darned impressive) gift for any occasion.