DIY Gifts for Dad, or Anyone Else That Loves All Things Spicy or Bacony

I’m giving throwing you guys two posts today, since I was such a flake last week. I know that the gift-giving frenzy is pretty much over for this season, but these work as excellent presents for any occasion, so no matter.

If you were ever to ask my mom which one of parents I take after the most, she’d probably tell you that I’m my father through and through, that she can barely see any of herself in me. Whether or not that’s true, my Dad and I are certainly kindred spirits in several senses, one of those being our taste in food. We like all things greasy, cheesy, heart-attacky, and above all spicy enough to render a Neti pot useless. Was that gross? Oh well, you got the point. We like it hot. For a long time I got him an assortment of hot sauces for every holiday, be it Christmas, father’s day, his birthday, you name it. But once I started to cook, it seemed way more fun to do it on my own. This year I made pickled carrots, jalapeño-habanero hot sauce, and bacon jam. 

Yummm. Don’t those babies look gorgeous? Never heard of bacon jam before? I believe it was pioneered by Skillet Street Food, a famous food truck native to Washington (the state). You can order a jar of their bacon jam online, but it’s incredibly easy to make. I made some for Dad for Xmas last year, and the next day he informed me that it was pretty much the greatest condiment ever invented ever. I used a recipe from Homesick Texan, and it followed it pretty exactly so I won’t bother reprinting it here. But I will make a few comments: if you like your food milder, seriously go easy on the chipotle peppers. You’re already putting in some of the adobo sauce from the can so you’re going to have a little heat no matter what. Second, I had trouble finding Mexican hot chocolate, but I think it’s a flavor component that this recipe could really use. I had a packet of dark chocolate hot cocoa mix in the pantry, which I mixed together with a pinch of ground cinnamon and that made for a perfect substitute. Here are my recipes for the pickled carrots and hot sauce:

Spicy Pickled Carrots 

adapted from Homesick Texan

Yields approximately 4 mason jars

1 lb carrots, chopped into 1/4 inch rounds

1/4 – 1/2 cup slivered onions (my dad loves onions, so I erred closer to a 1/2 cup, but that’s not necessary)

1 jalapeño, stem removed and chopped into rounds

2-4 whole, peeled garlic cloves

1 habanero, stem removed (optional)

1 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white vinegar

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground oregano

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)

In a medium pot, bring the water, oil, and vinegar to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until carrots are desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings, then remove from heat. Let the carrots cool before jarring. These are delicious right away, but the flavors will definitely deepen over time so I recommend making this a few days in advance if you plan to give this as a gift.


Jalapeño – Habanero Hot Sauce

Yields about 4 mason jars

7 – 10 jalapeños, stems removed

1-2 habaneros, stems removed (this peppers are hot, so take it easy if you’re not used to spicy food)

2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped

3-5 whole, peeled garlic cloves

White vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Put all dry ingredients in a medium pot and add the vinegar until all ingredients are just covered. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for around 10 minutes, or until peppers are fork tender. I do not recommend leaning over the pot at any time, as the vapors will sting your throat and burn your eyes.

Once the peppers are ready, very carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Puree until smooth, or desired consistency. Taste and add salt, or a little sugar if its too spicy or vinegary. Like the carrots, this hot sauce ages well so make it a few days before gifting.

Note: Many people recommend wearing latex gloves when working with hot peppers. I find this pretty unnecessary so long as you’re careful and wash your hands thoroughly after chopping or otherwise handling. Do not touch your eyes at any time, and use common sense.

Homemade gifts are both cheaper and more thoughtful than the store-bought kind. These recipes are great for gifting because they seem incredibly impressive since most people don’t make their own condiments, but they’re actually fantastically simple and fast. Enjoy giving, everybody!

Photos courtesy of Xander Keeping.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *