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

By Nancy Baggett
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 3, 2008; Page F08

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