The best kind of presents to give are the kind you can benefit from. For example, when I bought my sister the cookbook Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, I knew that good things were going to come out of it, and they were going to come right to me. Don't feel bad for her, she does it to me, too. Plus, last week, I was over at her house making the "Oreos" recipe out of that book, so I am sure she is not complaining.
A few reasons to get this book if you are into DIY: there is an abundance of easy recipes to make novel things that are very impressive such as cream cheese, Camembert, ricotta, mozzarella, mascarpone, vermouth, bitters, marshmallows, pancetta, and, of course, oreos, just to name the few I can remember. Since I don't have this book, however, I can't supply the recipe for the fluffy and light, dreamily creamy cream cheese that she made and gave to me. I can tell you, it was easy. The only extra work is in buying the mesophilic culture from an online supplier.
What I will share is this easy bagel recipe I got from The Good Stuff Cookbook, another wonderful cookbook, full of novel items, like honey jelly, wine jelly, potted cheese, homemade biscotti, pretzels, crumpets, fresh mustards, cranberry ketchup, digestive biscuits and the list goes on and on.
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups warm water between 110 and 115 degrees F
3 Tablespoons barley malt powder (I happen to have this thanks to Sean's beer making ventures, but you can use honey or sugar as well)
2 teaspoons salt (originally was 3 but you know how I feel about salt, and mine were perfectly salty enough)
5 - 5 1/2 cups bread flour (I mixed 1 cup of whole grain rye with whole wheat flour and some wheat gluten)
Dissolve your yeast into the water. Let it activate for about 10 minutes. now stir in the sugar or malt, a cup of the flour then the salt. Then work in the rest of your flour. Knead by hand for 10 to 15 minutes. Don't skimp on the kneading. Most home cooks underknead. If you have a standing mixer, knead for about 5-8 minutes. Now let this rise about an hour or until doubled in volume or in the refrigerator overnight.
If you had it in the fridge, take it out for about an hour before shaping the bagels. Divide the dough into 12 lumps. Now you can make a ball, stick your finger through the middle and with it in the middle roll it on all side to make the hole neater looking. The hole should be a bit large since it will become smaller as the bagel puffs up.
Let the bagels rise 10 to 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Bring to a boil 3 quarts water and a 1/4 cup of the barley malt, or some sugar. Boil the bagels 30 seconds on each side.I recommend a baking sheet with parchment or heavily oiled as my bagels stuck quite a bit. After they are done boiling you can brush them with egg white if you want to, I didn't, and sprinkle them with salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and/or caraway. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
Cranberry Jalapeno Jam
1 cup of frozen cranberries
3 jalapenos, diced
1 clementine, diced
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
Gently boil all ingredients together, stirring now and then until the jam is very thick and most of the cranberries have popped. It will not be spicy.