Oh, presents. They are best when they are not obligations but ways of saying, “Hey, I like you and I get what you’re all about, so I know you’re going to enjoy this.” Is it really worth the time and effort otherwise? Sidenote: an interesting, though seasonally inappropriate, article about this leans in the direction of “no.”
One of my most favorite gifts in recent memory was a cookbook.
A coworker and I had connected, appropriately enough, about food. We were hired the same day for the same job, and though we both ended up curmudgeonly avoiding work functions, we made an effort, at first. We brought homemade creations to a summer barbecue/picnic, and her contribution was this fantastic gazpacho. I’d had gazpacho a number of times before, and it never lived up to the idea of cold, refreshing, summer tomato soup but rather reminded me of tepid, watery salsa. Not this one–it was rich with many flavors, complex and bright.
She must have remembered how much I liked it many months later, and that is how I ended up with the Moosewood Cookbook on my birthday a couple of years ago. This adorable (handwritten!) cookbook, first published in the late 70s, is full of fun and wholesome vegetarian (“hippie dippie,” as my coworker put it) recipes like this one.
(adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)
4 cups tomato juice
3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped, seeds and guts and all
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 chopped bell pepper (yellow looks great)
1 tsp honey (omit for vegan version)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 scallions, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp dried taragon
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste
Combine everything. Puree if you’d like (I prefer chunky soup), and chill for at least a few hours.