These herbs, grown under lights, should be ready by Christmas. (Mary Lowther photo)

These herbs, grown under lights, should be ready by Christmas. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Making Christmas gifts from the garden

It’s not too early to get the ball rolling on presents we can make

By Mary Lowther

I love Christmas. I love Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, the Christmas tree, dinner, visiting friends and relatives and exchanging gifts. Mom used to give me a poinsettia at Christmas. She also used to let me know when the clocks would fall back and now that she’s gone, I never know what time it is, but that’s another story.

My favourite gifts were those made by the gift giver. One year my dad made a utensil hanger, another year he repaired a turntable/radio and gave that to me. I listened to Candle Light and Wine every night on CHQM, 103.5 on the dial. My former sister-in-law gave us tea towels she had made with our initials embroidered in the corners. Sometimes she made jam.

It’s not too early to get the ball rolling on presents we can make from our gardens that might be remembered with the same fondness I maintain for gifts I’ve received in the past. Here are some ideas.

Start several pots of herbs and put them into a tray that can sit on a windowsill. Fresh herbs don’t come cheap, but if one has her own supply, one can cook like a pro. Or put together the ingredients and enclose a copy of a recipe using peas or beans plus veggies and herbs one might have dried. Speaking of dried herbs, they can constitute a great gift on their own, with enclosed suggestions on how to use them.

Root vegetable chips might be welcome. Thinly slice potatoes, turnips, carrots or beets and as you do it, soak them in a salty water solution. Towel them off and dehydrate them until they’re crispy.

One gal from Korea made kimchi for her relatives every year. Kimchi is just Korean style hot sauerkraut.

Here’s a recipe like the one she described:

1 cabbage

¾ cup kosher salt

2 green onions, sliced diagonally

¼ onion, minced

1 clove pressed garlic

1 T. honey

½ tsp. ginger

2 ½ T. chile powder

½ apple

½ pear

Chop cabbage (I like to slice it thinly like for sauerkraut), place in large bowl, sprinkle with salt, mix well and let sit for six hours. Rinse off salt, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Put into a cool place for four days, then tamp down into jars. I keep mine in the fridge. Kimchi adds a nice crunchy, salty flavour to salads and a je ne sais quoi to dinner or sandwiches.


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