Two of my proposed food gifts both take more time than effort. And by time I mean time sitting and developing flavor time not labor time.
This weekend I started a quart of homemade vanilla. This was actually a little late to start on it as vanilla should sit for at least two months prior to using. It only takes two ingredients: vanilla beans and vodka. I read lots off different homemade vanilla recipes on the web. Some of the sites I read were: http://hitchhikingtoheaven.com/2011/10/homemade-vanilla-extract-day-one.html , http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/making-homemade-vanilla-extract-aka-why-laura-bought-a-gallon-of-vodka , http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2010/09/17/homemade-gift-series-1-vanilla-extract/, and http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_vanilla_extract/ . There are a lot of others too! Am I the last person to try this? This is why I love the web - you have an idea or a need and almost always there is something online to help.
The problem is that each site has a slightly different recipe. I ended up taking the middle road as far as ratio of beans to vodka. I used two kinds of beans: Tahitian and Planifolia. I ordered these online last week and a total of a half a pound was under $30.00. A half a pound is a lot of beans!!
The steps are easy. Slice almost to the top of each vanilla bean.
I put four of each type of bean in each jar for a total of eight per pint. After a few minutes the vodka was already starting to darken.
I also started homemade limoncello last week but will wait to talk more about that til after the second step next weekend.