I am not a great cook. Unlike the above quote, my cooking is either reckless or abandoned. I can do it but not very enthusiastically. However, I have family and friends that are spectacular and creative cooks and I admire them greatly as it's not a skill that comes easily or joyfully to me. I have cooked to keep children alive, impress a man, fill an obligation and feed myself when I can't face one more frozen dinner.
For Christmas several years ago my sister-in-law who is tremendously clever (and may become famous as a result of this very blog) put together a family cook book. She put a call out to all of us to send her our favorite recipes. My recipes were a paltry pile of rather unremarkable quality but she recieved many from my rest of my family. She also did a bit of research and came up with recipes that went back two generations or more. She compiled all the recipes in three ring binders for every household in the family. She entitled it Home Cooking: A Special Collection of Recipes and designed a snappy cover sheet that slid into the clear pocket on the front of the binder. Over the years she has sent out updates to the book that consist of new favorites and favorites of new members of the family. And as it's a 3-ring binder we can add to it easily. And...it stays open to the page as you work, which is a huge bonus. It's happened more than once that as I am cooking, unbeknownst to me, the page has turned itself and I have combined two recipes with inedible results.
That cook book has saved my metaphorical bacon many a time when I needed to come up with something fast that was relatively simple and most of all tried and true. Thank you W.S.!
Since I am not a wonder in the kitchen I'm not sure why I have used this gift idea over and over again. I guess I figure if I can't cook or bake someone has to. I find a recipe for muffins, bread, a casserole...something homey and yummy and make a hand printed copy of the recipe. I buy the ingredients for the recipe and place them with the recipe card in a basket lined with a pretty kitchen towel or sometimes I will buy a serving dish or casserole as the container (or regift one that someone mistakenly thought I would love??). One of the best things about this gift is you can shop for all of it at the grocery store while you're doing your other shopping. Top it off with a recycled bow or strips of fabric tied into a bow and Ta-Da...someone else will be doing the cooking and maybe they'll invite you over.
Now you might think I was going to close with my favorite recipes for herb infused olive oil or salsa fresh from my garden as a most special hand-made gift, but no. I merely come up with these tasty ideas not the actual food item. That's my gift to you. Trust me, you can be thankful for that.