When I was younger it seemed that the only food gift baskets were the one’s from HIckory Farms. The only time you received anything local and gourmet was if you had friends who did home canning. Times have certainly changed. Winnipeg is now awash with companies that offer specialty food gifts.
Last year I wrote about some of these foods. This year I decided to another post. I went looking, wondering if I would find enough foods to write about. No worries. The number of people producing high quality foods in Manitoba keeps growing and growing. What I’ve assembled below is a list of items for creating a DIY gift basket. On their own, many of these products also make great ideas for office gift exchanges. They also are all good choices to serve at your holiday parties. At Christmas, or year round.
Individually most of these items are available for under $10. This makes them perfect for budget limited gift exchanges. They can also be packaged up in many combinations for gift baskets. In some cases it’s cheaper to buy more than one of a given product.
I’m starting off with a selection of Jams and other dip/sauce choices.
Spreading the Gift of Spreads:
The four spreads above, include two Jams, a mustard, and a pesto. The first Jam is a Pineapple and Kiwi Jam from the Crusty Bun restaurant. Flavour wise the Pineapple is prominent, but the Kiwi produces a thick texture.
The next jam is a Hot and Smoky Pineapple and Tomato Jam from Flora and Farmer. This jam makes a lovely spread on toast, as well as making a good sauce or dip for vegetables. I also very much enjoyed it with the Townsend sausage(more about that farther down). Flora and Farmer jams are available in several locations. Including Fools & Horses Coffee and Wine, and Generation Green at The Forks.
Pia’s Pesto is another great product that makes a great spread, dip, sauce, etc. I sampled the Cashew, Basil version. The Romano cheese gives this Pesto a nice zing, that complements the sweetness of the basil. Put this out at your parties, but be prepared for it not to last very long.
The final product in this quartet is Curry Dijon mustard from SmakDab. This is a mild curry that makes this Mustard ideal with meat, vegetables or anything else you’d like to pair it with. SmakDab has several other varieties of mustard, so there are bold and mild choices available to you. In addition to Fools & Horses, and Generation Green, SmakDab mustards are available at La Grotta Mediterranean Market, and Mulberry Tree Gift Baskets among other places.
Townsend Farms is a family run farm in the Sandilands area of Manitoba. Thy offer a wide variety of meat products. This is a place to check out if you are looking for a turkey that has been raised in a free-range environment. I suggest you visit their website and learn more about their philosophy of farming and food production. The product I’ve tried from them is their Cumberland sausage. This a traditional English “Banger.” It goes well with mash, but is also good for slicing up and using as an appetizer along with one of the sauces listed above. It has a good, peppery flavour, and doesn’t come across as greasy at all.
Rawnata Chocolate Hemp Snackers
I have to admit a particular bias as regards to this produce. Natalie, the maker of Rawnata products, and her family have been friends of mine for many years. I first tried her hemp snack products out at the St. Norbert’s Famers Market several years ago. This product is like a chocolate or power bar. Finding them in a gift basket promises the gift of energy along with great flavour and healthy ingredients. You can also cut the bars and put them out as part of a party dessert tray. You can find them at local Co-Op stores, as well as ordering them online.
More Saucy Gift Ideas
I’m finishing off with three more items. One is a jelly, one a sauce and the third is a syrup. The jelly is an apple jelly from John Boy Farms. This is one I picked up, because I had tried their cider while out in St. Norbert at the Market, and had really enjoyed it. The jar I picked up was the sampler size, but it is also available in the 340ml option. This is a sweet jelly, where the flavour is smooth. Noticeable apple presence without being too strong.
The second item on the list is the finishing sauce from Gourmet Inspirations. These come in larger bottles or in sampler size. Both are available in gift basket form. I went with the sampler size. This makes an ideal gift for someone on your list who may only be cooking for one. The photo below shows the finishing sauce on bread (bottom), along with the jelly on bread (top). This sauce is particularly great with pork, and also adds a good bit of zing to a vegerable stir fry.
Finally, a syrup. This is the Saskatoon Syrup from Crampton’s Manitoba Maid. I picked up this at Cocoabeans. This is just one of the many local products that they carry. I decide that I would try it on ice cream rather than pancakes or such like. This is quite sweet and as the ice cream melts creates an ice cream soup reminiscent of my childhood years, and the odd party where I could make my ice cream dessert to my liking.
The syrup was going to be the last item on the list, but since I wanted to add ice cream, I went out and picked up a litre of Cornell Creme Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream. This makes a great change up from wine for a hostess gift. It would also go terrific alongside your Christmas pudding. Or just on it’s own when you want a nice, quiet, relaxing moment away from all the pressures of the holiday season.