Fab Food Gifts: Mix It Up, and Make Your Friends Happy

By Nancy Baggett
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Homemade food gifts can run the gamut from cutesy to gourmet to just plain good. I took the latter approach when creating my kitchen gifts this year, because it seems a particularly appropriate time to give useful, budget-stretching items.

The result: four convenient, easy mixes for soup and bread, the elements of a simple and satisfying cold-weather meal.

The soups are a hearty minestrone and a zippy, fragrant curried lentil-vegetable soup called mulligatawny. The breads are a glazed honey-spice quick bread and a savory pumpkin-sunflower yeast bread. The latter is fuss-free and "kneadless," doable for even novice bakers.

The mixes can be layered in clear jars, canisters or even plastic storage containers; attach recipe directions that can be copied and formatted as desired from my recipes, which you'll find on this page.

Assembling these mixes can be a family affair; you may want to create a few to keep on hand in your own pantry, as the kits can last a month or two. The accompanying tips offer recommendations for buying containers and ingredients in bulk.

Nancy Baggett's latest cookbooks are "The All-American Cookie Book" and "The All-American Dessert Book." She will join the Free Range chat online at 1 p.m. today.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company