December 5, 2011

The Thought that Counts

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt: What was the first gift you ever made another person?

Growing up, my mother encouraged us to make our own gifts and thank you cards all year long. But, let's be honest... anything a kid makes and gives to a parent is a masterpiece. I'll never forget the time Mom was sick and I made her a special salad. Lettuce with chopped up hot dogs and barbecue sauce. Voila!

All the ingredients needed for
hot dog salad
She went on and on about how wonderful the salad was and how sweet I was to make it for her. Later that year my Girl Scout troop decided to make a recipe book for Mother's Day. I didn't need to ask my mom for a recipe. I knew the perfect one: Hot Dog Salad. After all, Mom loved it. Needless to say, my hot dog salad looked pitiful next to the other girls' baking recipes handed down from their grandmothers.

I see why teenagers and young adults audition for American Idol and actually think they can sing. Sweet old Mom has been clapping for them for years!

A botched cross-stitch piece or poorly constructed card is precious when you are young. Here the thought really does count. Once you are an adult, well... My first adult-made gift: a homemade recipe book for my new sister-in-law.

I knew my sister-in-law loved cooking, and my husband and I didn't have a lot of money for Christmas presents, so I decided to cut recipes out of magazines for a few months leading up to Christmas. Then I bought a small scrapbook and glued them in. On the front cover, I made a title and glued on a wooden spoon. Sounds wonderful, right? Problem is I didn't know what kinds of foods she liked, so it was a hodgepodge of recipes. Add to that my complete lack of skill with creative projects, and it was pitiful. I tried, and I hope that counted for something.

Come to think of it, she never did mention the recipe book. And I didn't have the guts to ask. I'll assume it still has a place of honor among her other loved recipe books. It makes me feel better.

I feel my best homemade gifts are behind me. But, I do make a mean chocolate chip banana bread that lots of neighbors will receive this holiday season. That counts as homemade, and I guarantee grandmother's recipe will make people happy.

My gift to readers, trust me you will love this:

Grandma's Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup AP flour (Mom swears by King Arthur flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, well beaten
3 ripe bananas, broken into pieces
1/2 bag of mini chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat again. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, and beat again. Pour half a bag of mini chocolate chips (big ones will fall to the bottom) into the batter and stir. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 hours.

Gluten-free version: Substitute King Arthur Gluten-free flour for AP flour (same amount). It's wonderful!


When was the last time you made a gift? Was it a success?


Larissa T. said...

I made a "Happiness in an Envelope" ( I don't really know what else to call it )this morning. Well I finished it anyways. I finished it on the way to taking my father to the airport. In other words, in the car. In even more words, I forgot a bunch of things that were supposed to be in the envelope, at home, the address was done in squiggly-handwritten-in-the-car writing, and well, let's just hope it brings a smile to the recipient's face. I will now jot down that recipe for trying this week! Thanks for sharing.

Larissa T. said...

OH! P.S. My brother always makes hotdog salad here at home too! I loved to see someone else with the same habit!

Tia Bach said...

Thanks for stopping by, Social Lilac! I do believe, for the most part, that people appreciate sincere and heartfelt effort. ;-)

Wow, I can't believe someone else's brain came up with hot dog salad. He must be a great guy! ;-)

Shelby (@every_blessing) said...

The banana bread sounds great! Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Hot-dog salad, oh my! That reminds me of the time I made a cake for my dad, and he went on and on about how yummy it was. Then I tasted it, and it was AWFUL (this was already after he'd eaten TWO pieces). I was 11 or so, and I think I must've added too much oil. Those are the memories that will last, though. ;-)

Julie Glover said...

May I tell about the gift my hubby made for me? It was amazing. He wrote me a love poem. Now, you have to know that he is NOT romantic. He could probably fit into the cast of Big Bang Theory in some ways. So it was HUGE that he sat down and wrote out words about how he loves me. I go back and read it sometimes, and even though it's not great from a writing standpoint, it is one of the best presents I've ever received.

Tia Bach said...

@Shelby, Enjoy it. It's the best, I promise!

@Melissa, You're so right. I love that Mom ate my hot dog salad and appreciated it. Although, I admit it wasn't bad.

@Julie, How sweet! I'd take any kind of poem from my hubby. ANY KIND!

I really appreciate you all stopping by!

Nana said...

What a wonderful memory. I think this time of year lends itself to calling all the precious holidays we've had to mind. And a hot dog salad made by a child becomes the finest, most delectable dish any master chef could create.
Added note: the banana bread was your great-grandmother's recipe. In the orignial recipe it was beaten with a wooden spoon.

Mary Jo said...

What a sweet post! I love giving and receiving homemade gifts. One of the best I've given was a video put together of pictures of family shortly after my husband's grandparents both died. The music playing in the background was Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man. They lived in a small TN town and each summer all the cousins, aunts, uncles would vacation there for a week. The pictures were from years of our visits. Also, the ending had a video I took of my husband playing his guitar with his grandpa playing a dobro. Precious!

Tia Bach said...

Mary Jo, What a lovely and very sweet idea. Truly, the more thought behind it, the more powerful the gift. Happy Holidays.

Mama "aka Nana"... love you!