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maggiethecat

"Artisanal" Holiday Presents

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Hand knitted scarves and/or gloves for everyone. My favorite folks get these from personally dyed and handspun yarns.

Jars of my ketchup rendered from my tomato patch this past summer go to all of my workmates.

Cheeses, (many!) vinegars, oils, mustards, smoked fish and homemade crackers and breadsticks go to my neighbors. If I ever leave the food industry, they will move away.

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Pillows filled with lavender from the back yard and organic buckwheat hulls (purchased from SF Herb Co), and lavender bouteilles, those sachets made by weaving satin ribbon among lavender stems, creating a wand filled with the lavender blossoms.

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I need some fresh ideas. I always make the Dessert Circus candied almonds for people (1/3 plain, 1/3 chocolate coated and rolled in powdered sugar, 1/3 chocolate coated and rolled in cocoa powder, layered in a glassine sack with a pretty ribbon tie). Last year I put together small jars and bottles of goodies: cranberry mustard, rosemary-lemon dipping oil, and homemade jam along with the almonds.

This year I need some kind of new concept. I am considering Jaymes' caramel popcorn and buckets along with the almonds, but I need a few savories to throw in as well (at least one recipient is diabetic, while another is on Atkins). I liked the mustard and the oil but feel a need to branch out a little more this year. Suggestions?

I happen to have a huge amount of dried lavender buds laying about. I have no sewing skills to speak of. Is there a classy way to make sachets out of these or something, without having to use a needle? I'd mix up a tea blend, but none of the recipients are big on tea-drinking--they're strictly a coffee crowd. Lavender infusion for reconstituting lavender lemonade, maybe?

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Why not make lavendar shortbread?

If you use the new Splenda/sugar baking combo, it has half the sugar and it works well in shortbread.

I have the recipe somewhere on this computer, hopefully by title, because I have 3 huge hard drives and only one is fully indexed.

If you are interested I can dig it out and post it.

P.S. It keeps very well....


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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With just a cursory search I can't find the lavender shortbread recipe.

However there are a number of excellent ideas for using lavender in various things

on this site. \

Including lavender cookies and lavender lemonade.

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I need a few savories to throw in as well

I happen to have a huge amount of dried lavender buds laying about. I have no sewing skills to speak of. Is there a classy way to make sachets out of these or something, without having to use a needle?

Good grief: I'd forgotten that I'd started this thread, even as I mulled over ideas yesterday for this year's gifting!

Malawry: Re Savoury-- How's about some cheese shortbreads, cheddar coins; you know the short little cheese cookies I'm talking about. And the lavender: Cut out square of organza (er, the cheap stuff--no silk necessary) with pinking shears, tip some of those buds into the center, and tie up the baby pouch with ribbon. Silver organza and lavender ribbon would be so pretty. (If you can find some lacy cotton hankies to use as the wrap, it could be a double gift.)

This year, for my very special and nearest and dearest: Maggie's Own Chefwarish cook's pants, with matching do-rag headwrap. I made the cap yesterday, and it is appropriately menacing and raffish.

In going through the November "Vogue" I found some nifty purses fashioned from crocheted Granny Squares. $1700 samolians, I kid you not! I might just pull out my crochet hook.

The big hit at my mother's tour of the local church's Christmas Tea and Crafts Sales this year is that Layered Desert in a Jar thingie. The ingredients for brownies or cookies are layered in a big mason jar, like sand sculpture. There's a tag attached specifying the ingredients you'll need to add, along with baking instructions. She bought one and used it immeditely: it passed her very high standards. The church ladies had used the good stuff when they prepared their jars.

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Ah. Not made precisely from food...but from a food-ish byproduct.

Saw some very cute little handbags...large enough to carry a cellphone, wallet and lipstick of course :smile: in, at a local artsy store here in town.

They were quite simply made from Capri Sun and other sorts of pliable small juice packs that had been laminated then sewn together with a quilting stitch on a sewing machine. The strap was the same. A small snap was attached on the inside to hold the top together.

Very very cute. Colorful, shiny and fun.

They were selling for about $20. each and really...all they mostly took to make was what normally would be thrown in the trash!

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I'm going to skip the holiday cookie boxes this year and try something new.

Right now I'm tossing around the idea of doing little bouquets of homemade lollipops (a handful of different flavors/colors)....and/or little vintage jars of preserves/syrups.

Toffee isn't really up my alley, but I tasted a delicious black licorice(!) toffee yesterday at the market - she also had black cherry and citrus infused toffees for any of you thinking about giving your toffees a bit of a twist.

-h


Edited by heidihi (log)

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I am toying with the idea of making packages of hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows(maybe colored red and green). Not sure if I'll add a mug or not. I'm sure my daughters teachers have more than enough mugs.

I made a few gingerbread houses last year for friends to put together themselves and decorate. Anyone with kids loves it.

I also made up some cookies for santa kits last year for a bake sale and friends. I put cookies, sprinkles, icing and a plate from the dollar store that said cookies for santa in a nice bag.

Heidi-I was just looking at a christmas baking magazine(Canadian Living) and they have cookie lollipops using crushed candy canes that look really festive. Let me know if you want the recipe.

Sandra

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Heidi-I was just looking at a christmas baking magazine(Canadian Living) and they have cookie lollipops using crushed candy canes that look really festive.  Let me know if you want the recipe.

Sandra

I adore Canadian Living and Mummy always has a copy on the bedside table when I'm back in the True North Stong and Free for a visit.

I would love that recipe.

And, apart from Jaymes Caramel Corn, a go-to for every gifting occasion , I don't think there's anything simpler or more welcome than spicy/sweet/salty nuts. Easy on the cook, inhaled by the recipent. There are lots of good recipes out there, but this is a category where Martha Rules. Can't remember which book --maybe the classic "Hors d'Oeuvres, " but a can of spicey caramelized pecans can't miss.

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Ah. Not made precisely from food...but from a food-ish byproduct.

Saw some very cute little handbags...large enough to carry a cellphone, wallet and lipstick of course  :smile: in, at a local artsy store here in town.

They were quite simply made from Capri Sun and other sorts of pliable small juice packs that had been laminated then sewn together with a quilting stitch on a sewing machine. The strap was the same. A small snap was  attached on the inside to hold the top together.

Very very cute. Colorful, shiny and fun.

They were selling for about $20. each and really...all they mostly took to make was what normally would be thrown in the trash!

This sounds like something Ready Made Magazine would have published at some point. Great resource, if you're not familiar with it.

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I make salty/sweet/spicy spiced walnuts myself. They're very popular and easy to do in bulk. The heart of the spice mixture I use is garam masala, in an egg white base. They are tragically addictive, I tell you what. I've started packaging them in brown bags of the same kind that you get for putting bulk coffee beans in; they come in a bunch of different sizes and are greasproof.

This year, I'm also reviving my old habit of making small panpepato cakes. I use Carol Fields' recipe from Celebrating Italy, but with prunes instead of raisins.

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I am madly knitting slippers, to be felted, for everyone I know. They knit up in a minutes, and I have enough laundry to do on a daily basis.

It's a royal pain in the tush trying to come up with inventive new ways to find the length of friends' feet.

For a couple of dear friends. Some frozen rounds of Julia's pie crust and a foil thing of peach pie filling. Latter is from my Farm Journal Freezing and Canning cookbook (a real gem). You make the filling, line a pie tin with foil and freeze the filling in the foil. Time for a pie? Peel the foil off, put it in a crust-lined tin and bake away.

Maggie, do tell about the raffish hat, please. I found, after we moved, a very nice stash of vegtable fabric. Just dying for a tete.

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Maggie, do tell about the raffish hat, please.  I found, after we moved, a very nice stash of vegtable fabric.  Just dying for a tete.

Sure, Sistergirl. It's one of McCalls Uniform patterns, number 4539. You can whip up checks, toque or dishwaher's jacket from this pattern.

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Thanks for the offer Sandra,

I think I'm going to go for the hard candy lollipops this time around. I'll let you know how they turn out :)

-h

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The big hit at my mother's tour of the local church's  Christmas Tea and Crafts Sales this year is that Layered Desert in a Jar thingie.  The ingredients for brownies or cookies are layered in a big mason jar, like sand sculpture. There's a tag attached specifying the ingredients you'll need to add, along with baking instructions.  She bought one and used it immeditely: it passed her very high standards.  The church ladies had used the good stuff when they prepared their jars.

Three Christmases ago we did "Soup in a Jar" and "Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar". We used some fairly fancy storage canisters that we found as a great deal on a quantity buy, printed up the instructions together with our holiday wishes on some textured paper, tied the tag on with raffia and voila. Both received rave reviews. And I recently received "Brownies in a Jar" as a hostess gift... soon to be used, no doubt.

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My mom made us limoncello a few years back which was great. Other infused liqueurs would be nice as well.

I've also bought items and then supplied a collection of key recipes to go with the gift. Example: recipe for mascarpone cheese and tartaric acid along with sweet and savory recipes for mascarpone... else, a tart pan along with a booklet of my favorite tart recipes...

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Back when my kids were in school -I used to give the teachers a basket with a good homemade pasta sauce, a quality pasta and bread sticks( I think, it's been a while) but the card always said -- "What the working woman really needs ... dinner!" Always a big hit. :rolleyes:

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Taking to heart perpetually wise Maggiethec.'s spiced nuts admonition, I wonder if knowledgeable types could point me to additional recipes, in books or with linky-links.

Redfox, any chance of a recipe for your garam masala ones?

Jayme's caramel corn, a Big Yes. Like Cracker Jacks would be in Heaven. Izzat in Recipe Gullet, I wonder?

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Candy cane lollipops

1 1/3 cup crushed candy canes,divided

1 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups ap flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

preheat oven to 375

finely crush 1/3 cup of candy canes in food processor.

Beat together butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together. Stir into butter mixture in three additions.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Slide lollipop stick under bottom half of dough. Bake for 6 minutes, remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining cup of candy canes-press into cookies. Bake another 5-8 minutes(until golden color)

Makes about 48 cookies.

enjoy

Sandra

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This year, I'm also reviving my old habit of making small panpepato cakes. I use Carol Fields' recipe from Celebrating Italy, but with prunes instead of raisins.

I make those, and also her panforte (the chocolatey version's really good).

I've also made several jams from Mes Confitures--the Nostradamus-Spiced Quince Jam turned out really well, as did the Caramel-Pear. I also made a lot of apple pectin to have on hand, as a lot of her winter recipes require it.

Besides that I usually just make a bunch of biccies and tat people some Xmas tree ornaments.


Edited by beccaboo (log)

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Truffles. Chocolate truffles. I think I'd like to try my hand at these this year. Besides they are the one thing I can safely make and still have enough of to give away, since I don't each a lot of chocolate.

And shortbread. I have a killer shortbread recipe handed down from my mom's side of the family. :smile:

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I'm thinking this year of making spice rubs and packaging them in little tins (found them very cheap at www.specialtybottle.com!) a la Dean and Deluca, which sells a collection of 9 spice rubs for $60. I think if I buy the spices in bulk, it could work beautifully.

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A very dear friend of mine used to make white, milk and dark chocolate dipped pretzels, potato chips, and OREO cookies every holiday. They were the most amazing things and everyone loved them.

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Katie!

Your very name brought to mind something we made last Christmas that got good reviews: Limoncello! Time to start a batch.

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