Every year, when Christmas approaches, I am the only person I know who does not worry one bit about christmas gifts.
I am of the very strong opinion that Christmas presents are either something you really care about, or something that can be skipped altogether.
I see a countless number of people fretting over what to get for their friends, and inevitably end up getting the first cheap thing they can lay their hands on and that makes some sense. I hate formalities, and applying such a formality on your friends I would almost interpret as an offense.
This year, like every other year, I want the gift of time, or nothing at all.
We can barely find time for what matters the most to us. We have no time to go for a run, we have no time to cook, we have no time for our kids, we have no time for a book. We have no time.
That is why I want something that can show me that a person can spend at least 5 minutes of their time on. No useless junk, no material things.
A meal together. Something handmade – even just a card. A chat.
I want your company. I want your presence.
I need nothing more, and nobody should demand for more at this time of year.
Like these biscotti, that you can make for someone and actually put some love in it, these flavored oils are a quick to put together, yet they can be considered something useful that you actually spent some time on planning. They do take a little time to make as they need to infuse, but if you make them now they will be more than ready fro Christmas. They should infuse for at least a week. If it’s 2, even better!
They are gorgeous for dressing salads, flavoring meats, or just plain dipping bread with some balsamic vinegar. Use a good olive oil, possibly extra virgin, possibly delicate. Make them considering that the person you’ll be gifting them to likes best, and you’ll be good to go!
A FEW POINTERS BEFORE YOU START
- Needless to say, clean your bottles or jars thoroughly before using.
- If using fresh herbs, make sure they are perfectly washed and dried before putting them in the bottles, and make sure to completely cover them with oil.
- Using dried herbs and dried everything is better for this purpose. These oils will keep developing flavor over time. and I find that fresh garlic gets a bit overpowering over the course of 2 weeks, so remove it after it has been steeping for 3 days. f making chilli oil, dried chillies are best, in my opinion.
- You can get creative, really. Here are just a few ideas, but possibilities are endless: you can flavor oils with spices, citrus, all the herbs you like best, anything, really! You can check the taste after 10 days or so and see if it’s strong enough. If not, add more.
- If making a dipping oil, shake the bottle before using, so you get to dip your bread in the goodness at the bottom as well. Flavored oils can be made with just whole herbs and flavorings.
- Warming up the oil will help it absorb the flavors. All you have to do is heat it up to a little more than lukewarm. I’d do this in a pot, as to have complete control over it. You can also bottle the oils and heat them up afterwards, in a pot of hot water.
Herbs Dipping Oil
(Makes 1 cup / 250ml)
1/2 tsp Dried Garlic (mine was really strong)
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Coarse Salt
A sprig of Rosemary
2-3 Sage leaves
1 tsp Dried Tarragon
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Parsley
1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Put all the dried ingredients in a pestle and crush everything a bit, so that the peppercorns, salt and mustard can release their flavors and mix well with the herbs. Put them in a clean small bottle, along with the well washed and well dried rosemary and sage. Make sure the herbs are all covered up.
Warm up the oil in a pot and, once it’s a little over lukewarm, pour it over the herbs. Leave your oils to infuse for at least a week before using. then, add a nice ribbon to the bottle and pack up you gifts!
(Makes 1 cup / 250ml)
A couple tablespoons of the tomatoes preserving oil
The zest of a small lemon
A few olives (optional)
Oh yes.I think I’ll go for a walk with my dad this Sunday. We hardly get quality time together anymore.
Take some time and make something handmade this year. Spend time with your family. Spend real time with real people.
And wish you’ll always be able to.