So it’s nearly Purim and the excitement in my house is rising every day. I’m not a great one to fuss with costumes, but my mind is bubbling over with ideas for Mishloach Manot. Depending on what neighborhood you inhabit, these gifts also can be called “shalach munis” or simply Purim treats. It’s more than mere “tradition” to give goodies to friends and family. The practice of giving food – specifically two different types -- was mandated as a mitzvah at the suggestion of Queen Esther (you’ll find it in the Megillah), and we’re still obeying to this day. I like to go out of my way to give Mishloach Manot to people I just met or to new friends: it’s a great opportunity to break the ice with new neighbors too.
When it comes to your goodie basket, you can go from cheap and cheerful to expensive and exotic. The only things that limit you are your imagination and your wallet.
Now don’t stress out over this. Technically, you only have to give to one person, not your whole town, but chances are you’ll want to do more. I’ve been there, believe me.
Exhibit A -- the easy way: The first year I was married, I borrowed (ok, stole) the easiest Purim idea from a friend. I sent cute little boxes filled with purple yummy stuff along with a card wishing everyone a “Grape Purim!”
Exhibit B – the hard way: When we moved into or new house 3 years ago, Purim fell on erev Shabbos. I made an individual challah roll, a quart of fresh chicken soup and added a small bottle of grape juice for 60 families – yes, 60 – in our new neighborhood. Let me tell you, that was a little intense and a lot crazy.
Overboard, yes, but I was on the right track because there is something special about giving a homemade treat. But I’ve made a solemn promise to myself (and to my husband, to keep our household peaceful) that if I go this route, I’ll do it with a lot of planning and forethought. No last minute panic.
At first, I couldn’t decide between two ideas, so I developed two EASY recipes for you and me. (Not like making 60 homemade challah rolls!) Again, I “borrowed” a few ideas from my friends, Tamar and Hadassah, but I can’t remember which was which. Anyway, you’re welcome to borrow these ideas from us, and we won’t tell a soul.
Option 1: an English Tea Time Shalach Manos.
Homemade jam is so easy to make, so (literally) sweet, and a perfect way to use up all those bits of frozen berries in your freezer. You can package homemade jam and some biscuits, crackers, scones or English muffins (you can buy all of these) and a box of tea. To that end, I present you with a recipe for Homemade Mixed Berry Jam.
Option 2: a “movie night” theme is fun and family friendly.
You get to satisfy all your cravings for Twizzlers, soda and popcorn. But not just any popcorn: we’re talking homemade, gourmet Maple Almond Popcorn. Don’t worry – it’s truly Quick & Kosher and so easy you’ll do it again and again.
I decided to go with this one, so I picked up some plastic movie style popcorn tubs, and I’m rounding out the package with a can of soda tucked into a Coke cup with a lid (got ‘em from the pizza store). And of course, I’ll add a pack of Twizzlers. As soon as I put it together, I’ll take a pic for you and post it here.
But I need your help to complete this Mishloach Manot package. I’m missing one key ingredient to make this just perfect (because I am so lacking the creativity gene of this type): I want to create an “admit one” ticket of some sort with a poem or catchy line inviting people to the greatest movie now playing, “The Purim Story” and -- Coming Soon – “The Exodus from Egypt.”
Please reply with a catchy rhyme, a witty turn of a phrase, or a great (really) short poem. The one I use will WIN a gorgeous gift basket worth $50 from Libby & Laura!* Contest open to US Residents only. Contest closes Wednesday March 16th 2011 at 9 am.
If you’re fresh out of ideas, but want to join the conversation anyway, you can just let us know what has been your favorite homemade item given in a Mishloach Manot basket.
And hey, if you don’t go for the ideas above and you’re looking for some other recipes for homemade Mishloach Manot treats, click on these links:
• Caramelized Crispy Bark
• Asian Popcorn Medley
• Dilly Lemon Munch Popcorn
• Cocoa Nib Brittle
• Raspberry Lemonade Marshmallows
• White Chocolate Bark
• Brown Sugared Nuts
• Ginger Spicy Nuts
• Macadamia Candy Corn
• Toffee Crunch
While you are making all of that to send out on Purim, be sure to allow yourself a taste for quality control. Don’t you know that every good cook takes a taste before the goods leave the kitchen?
*Libby & Laura Boutique Bakery specializes in handmade, kosher baked goods. The company first became famous for its delicious soft baked mandelbrot, and then expanded its product line to hamantashen, brownies, blondies and more! Libby & Laura products are available in gorgeous gift baskets and custom party favors, the perfect gift for any special occasion. Visit www.libbyandlaura.com to order today!