With the exception of some of the cookies and the tea blends, which can be sent by mail, most of the dishes in this book are best given in person. In fact, part of the joy of giving rood can be spending time together enjoying it.
One of the easiest ways to transport food is in the vessel in which it was cooked. Casseroles, for example, are easily carried covered, in the dish in which they were baked. Soups, however, are better cooled and poured into plastic containers with tight-fitting lids suitable for reheating in the microwave or for transferring into pots upon arrival. You can include the containers as part of your gift, or a piece of tape with your name stuck on the bottom of a container or plate will help you to retrieve it later.
If you want to cook for, and perhaps eat with, your friend, prepare the dish up to the point of cooking and bring it in as many plastic containers as needed. You can use your friend's cooking utensils and then stay to wash them and put them away. Restaurant-supply houses are a great source for a variety of plastic storage containers with tight-fitting lids.
To transport food in its cooking vessel hot from your kitchen so that it can be eaten the moment it arrives, line a cardboard box with several layers of newspaper. Cover the vessel with a lid or aluminum foil, wrap it in newspapers and a heavy towel, and place it in the box. This will keep any food fairly hot for up to an hour. You can also make most of the dishes in this book ahead of time, to reheat yourself or to leave for your friend to reheat. Most prepared foods, hot or cold, including those containing meat, can be safely kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
If you want to bring an extra gift for your friend, wrap the food container in a beautiful kitchen towel or napkin, put it in a gift basket along with a serving plate or bowl, and tuck in a bouquet of flowers, too, if you like. In this case, be sure to include a note with instructions for reheating and perhaps freezing the dish.
From From Our House To Yours. Compilation copyright © 2002 by Chronicle Books LLC. Foreword copyright © 2002 by Joyce Goldstein. Photographs copyright © 2002 by E.J. Armstrong. All rights reserved. First published by Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, California.
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