Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gift idea for the Impossible-to-Buy-For (and Blueberry Syrup recipe)

My parents, like many people, don't need any more stuff.  But it's Christmas, and I wanted to give them a gift.

Do you have anyone on your list who's impossible to buy for?  You want to give them something, but you just don't know what?  I've had this dilemma for years, and usually in the past I've solved it by donating to charity in their honor.  And for my parents, that's a cool gift.  I think they like that they raised their kids to be generous.

But I still just wanted to give them something.  Some thing.

I bounced around some ideas with my friend J while we were walking one day.  More than one day, actually.  One by one, I rejected J's ideas, but she's resilient.  She kept coming back with more.  Thank you, J, for not giving up on me!

The perfect gift idea for someone who doesn't need any more stuff is something they'll use up.  Like an experience, or postage stamps, or food.  My parents aren't all that in to experience gifts, and postage stamps are definitely a last resort, so that left me with food.

I don't necessarily like giving food gifts, especially at Christmas, because number 1, there's already so much food around at this time of year, and number 2, pretty much everyone I know is trying to eat healthfully--I definitely don't want my gift to sabotage good intentions.  But we finally settled on a themed gift basket full of fun, and healthy, breakfast foods.  These are things that I know they'll use and appreciate, and it's not just more stuff.

And...I wanted to take a picture, but forgot, so...sorry.  You'll have to make due with a list.

First, I cut the flaps off a box that everything would fit inside, and wrapped the box, leaving the top open.  Sure, I could have used a basket, but then my parents would have had to decide what to do with the basket when all the innards were gone.  So I decided to go with something disposable.  Then I added:
Obviously, if you're going to make a gift basket for someone, tailor it to their tastes--these are things I know my parents will love. 

I used different types of containers to package the mixes: some mason jars, some peanut butter jars, some plastic bags, and some plastic bags inside paper bags.  I wrapped some of the items in color coordinated papers and left some unwrapped.  It was a thing of beauty, I tell you. 

You'll just have to take my word for it.

I think they liked it.  And I know they'll use it.  And that makes this the perfect gift.

Oh, how I wish y'all could have smelled my house when I was cooking up this blueberry syrup.  So fragrant and fruity.  I don't even particularly like blueberries and my mouth was watering.  My parents shared some of this with the group while they were visiting--by all accounts it was very yummy, particularly when combined with redi-whip on top of homemade whole wheat pancakes.
Blueberry Syrup
from Put 'Em Up Fruit by Sherri Brooks Vinton
Makes about 3 cups.
  1. Combine 1 quart (about 1 1/2 pounds) fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 c. sugar, 1/4 c. bottled lemon juice, and 1/4 c. water in a non-reactive pan.
  2. Slowly bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the berries fall apart
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on, then discarding the solids (I added some blueberry solids back into one of my jars of syrup, and saved the rest to use as an ice cream topping)
Store in refrigerator in a covered container for up to 3 weeks, or process half-pints in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Note: fruit syrups are typically thin.  If a thicker syrup is desired for serving, combine 1 c. blueberry syrup and 1 T. cornstarch in a small pan.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture thickens.  Do not add cornstarch prior to canning.

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