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maggiethecat

"Artisanal" Holiday Presents

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Last year I made chocolate sauce (found a recipe in a canning cookbook and actually canned it) and caramel sauce for everybody. I made the caramel sauce in small enough batches close to when I'd be seeing the recipients so it would stay fresh. One recipient didn't know it should be refrigerated and kept it in her pantry. Months later, she pulled it out and used it to top a Sara Lee cheesecake (she's not a cook at all), and it was apparently fine. I was, uh, more skeptical. :blink:

This year it will be candy: peppermint bark, pistachio brittle, almond buttercrunch, candied almonds, maybe some truffles, nougat, and fruit gelees. Different mixes for different folks.

And, as always, there's Chris' beer (200 bottles last year). That's VERY popular.

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Some more things I'm doing this year:

For my newly single cousin who loves Thai food, a "certificate" for a trip to the local Asian market to get some essentials and a lesson, to include curry, stir frying and larb :wub::wub::wub: I picked up an almost new rice cooker for him at a thrift store for $.75. And, yes, to works.

For me and my friends, who now that we are in our mid-40's, require reading glasses, beaded eyeglasses chain things (lashes?). For about $6.00, I can get beads and supplies to make 3 of them. They are fun, they are beautiful, they are cheap. This enables us to have the glasses readily available to read recipes!

Knitting. I'm an avid knitter, and have been for 40 years (my grandmother believed that if one was old enough to go to kindergarten, one was old enough to know how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off). I have unbelievable stashes of wool. Odd bits. A skein here, two skeins there. So, I've been making slippers, mittens, potholders and felting them. I've discovered that a felted knitting makes great potholders -- either in square or mitten (knit them way, way huge). Pretty patterns with different colors of yarn. If anyone wants any hints, PM me for a couple of book recommendations.

For kids to do. I had my cousin's daughters over the other day (child care crisis). They didn't know what to do for their dad for Christmas. So, I suggested some things we could do, which we did. I had a few extra spice jars with those shaker lids, so they decorated them, and we made cinnamon sugar for the jars. I had a few odd tins which we covered with leftover contact paper and they decorated, and we will make caramel corn later on and fill those. And, we took some pictures, printed them, glued them to heavy card stock and put some of those pressaply magnets to them for the fridge.

For a newly married cousin, a family favorite Xmas cookie recipe and some cookie cutters.

My bestest friends, the ones with whom I share everything, will receive flour sack dishclothes this year, each of them will get 7 of them, embroidered with the traditional "days of the week" messages. The iron on things for these were discovered in a box that I found when we moved. The box was from my grandmother's house. 9 sets of the iron-ons. 80 flour sack dish clothes.

Geez. I'm sounding like a dinosaur.

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Some more things I'm doing this year:

For my newly single cousin who loves Thai food, a "certificate" for a trip to the local Asian market to get some essentials and a lesson, to include curry, stir frying and larb  :wub:  :wub:  :wub: I picked up an almost new rice cooker for him at a thrift store for $.75.  And, yes, to works.

For me and my friends, who now that we are in our mid-40's, require reading glasses, beaded eyeglasses chain things (lashes?).  For about $6.00, I can get beads and supplies to make 3 of them.  They are fun, they are beautiful, they are cheap.  This enables us to have the glasses readily available to read recipes!

Knitting.  I'm an avid knitter, and have been for 40 years (my grandmother believed that if one was old enough to go to kindergarten, one was old enough to know how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off).  I have unbelievable stashes of wool.  Odd bits.  A skein here, two skeins there. So, I've been making slippers, mittens, potholders and felting them.  I've discovered that a felted knitting makes great potholders -- either in square or mitten (knit them way, way huge).  Pretty patterns with different colors of yarn.  If anyone wants any hints, PM me for a couple of book recommendations.

For kids to do.  I had my cousin's daughters over the other day (child care crisis).  They didn't know what to do for their dad for Christmas.  So, I suggested some things we could do, which we did.  I had a few extra spice jars with those shaker lids, so they decorated them, and we made cinnamon sugar for the jars.  I had a few odd tins which we covered with leftover contact paper and they decorated, and we will make caramel corn later on and fill those.  And, we took some pictures, printed them, glued them to heavy card stock and put some of those pressaply magnets to them for the fridge. 

For a newly married cousin, a family favorite Xmas cookie recipe and some cookie cutters.

My bestest friends, the ones with whom I share everything, will receive flour sack dishclothes this year, each of them will get 7 of them, embroidered with the traditional "days of the week" messages.  The iron on things for these were discovered in a box that I found when we moved.  The box was from my grandmother's house.  9 sets of the iron-ons.  80 flour sack dish clothes. 

Geez. I'm sounding like a dinosaur.

Nah, not really, Susan. Or at least a highly creative and energetic dinosaur. :raz::rolleyes: Maybe one those little guys that ran around really fast! :laugh:

And damn! But you remind me how much I miss not having a sewing machine any longer! :sad:

Update on what I'm actually giving for this year.

Definitely more of my Tabasco sauces, they are always a hit. :shock::biggrin:

Spiced Peach Butter.

Peach jam.

Sweet potato boules (will accompany the one of preserved peach goodies).

Onion confit in pretty half-pint jars with my recipe attached (for a couple of special people in family and friends circle that will appreciate it, and probably go on to make their own :rolleyes: ). Doing that today. :biggrin:

Herb bouquets of our fresh rosemary, with accompanying jars of our own dried cinnamon basil or lemon thyme or bay leaves, or bottles of rosemary/pinenut infused EVOO, or jars of crushed red peppers, cayenne or Thai (which combos depending on the person).

Probably no candies this year -- as I really enjoy doing (and giving them as a family gift) most with the girls -- and they are appropriately pre-occupied with college, work and love lives. :wub::wink: They are a big help for me when making candies, and handle some of the things that are physically difficult for me to do all at once. :wacko: But, on the other hand, what's the holidays without some stress and sugar? :laugh:

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In the past, my gifts to others were usually "artisanal" foods: Fudge ( I too can't bear to make it again after that one holiday!), jars of watermelon pickle, rasberry jam, or brandied cherries.

This year, I'm giving quilts as gifts.

Yup, this year, my loved ones and in-laws are getting lap quilts. :wink:

One down, five in process, two to go.

It's been a series of eight hour days at the sewing machine; it's now 07:35 in New Mexico, and I'm off to the salt mines again.

(But at least I don't have to hear mall carols and fight crowds!)

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Chocolate Covered Raspberry Truffles. From this months Gourmet. Thought the recipe sounded good, and tried them out on some friends today. They are amazing. A fresh, ripe raspberry enrobed in rich ganache, and dusted with cocoa. When you bite in, there's an explosion of fruit. Not as heavy as a regular truffle either. (or so we told ourselves, as we reached for more).

Takes about 15 minutes to make, then chill for at least an hour.

Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream to simmer, then add 7 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate and turn off heat. Stir until melted and smooth. Add in 1 and 1/2 Tab Chambourd. Then drop 6 raspberries in at a time, and using two forks, coat fully, and then plop onto a sheet of waxed paper. Chill for an hour or so. Then put 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa in a bag and shake truffles until lightly coated.

These will be a gift I'll be giving, and also bringing along for X-Mas eve.

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I gave out Challah bread and some apple butter we made this fall.

I am also giving some friends homemade noodles. I keep them frozen and I let my friends know that, but some of them just don't have time to do that for themselves.

I am still debating on how to package them for giving, though. Ideas?

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I have three extra pretty glass jars of preserved lemons that are going to my friends at Crow Agency whom I cook with. I'll be Costco diving for their great sacks of lemons this week to start some new jars working. I get some real nice decorative and useful glass jars from our dollar stores.

This year I've found something I really like that I'll be making next week in quantity and bottling up as gifts. I've been making the spice mixes and recipes for meats and poultry from Madhur Jaffrey's "Curries To Kebabs: Recipes From the Indian Spice Trail" and she has a Mustard Spice Mix that is the absolute bomb! Her recipe using it is a pork curry, but I did ground venison and ground elk with it, and it is top notch... :smile: I love this book! It's going to be perfect for all the folks we trade game and recipes with.

This week I'm going to make some corn relish with frozen corn, and I think some mincemeat, as well. My littlelandlady and our neighbor are both getting fleece blankies. DH is getting something he's always wanted--a telescope. Not homemade, but I'm just tickled he has no idea.

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Just wanted to post a quick followup - I made my first batch of marshmellows tonight (decided to try a plain batch first - I used a recipe from Nightscotsman and they are FABULOUS! For those of you who have had Seven Minute Frosting, it's like eating a big square of the frosting... it's to die for! I will definitely be making LOTS more of these :wub:

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I'll be Costco diving for their great sacks of lemons this week to start some new jars working.

Big sacks of lemons, you say?? Sounds like a plan for a couple of batches of Limoncello! :smile:

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I learned today that I can knit and cook at the same time. Actually, knit and watch the candy thermometer. Knitting was circular, knit only, just working on a heel flap. Oh, and I was talking on the phone at the same time.

Gotta love multi-tasking.

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Homemade, uh, I mean 'artisanal' jams, jellies and conserves.

During the summer, when the old bugs are buzzin', I love to get out in the bush and search out those wild blackberries (the tiny NW ones), and make the jellies for winter.

There is nothing like the full flavors of those berries when the frost is on the ground!

Trees were dripping with beautiful fruits this season and some of those golden plums with the addition of nuts and orange zest made lovely conserve for use on pancakes and waffles...

Mmmmmmmmm! :)

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Recent chat at home and at eGullet about Limoncello, to say nothing of the fact that Walgreen's is all decked out in fake Yuletide drek, made me decide to give this thread its annual bump. I have about eighty pounds of Asian pears on my counter and my back lawn. Pearcello? Chutney? Exotic compost content?

I've read back a bit, and I'd forgotten how many wonderful ideas this thread contains. What is your guest list receiving from your hard-working loving hands this year?

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Recent chat at home and at eGullet about Limoncello, to say nothing of the fact that Walgreen's is all decked out in fake Yuletide drek, made me decide to give this thread its annual bump.  I have about eighty pounds of Asian pears on my counter and my back lawn. Pearcello? Chutney? Exotic compost content?

I've read back a bit, and I'd forgotten how many wonderful ideas this thread contains. What is your guest list receiving from your hard-working loving hands this year?

asian pear butter with ginger???

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I have a very close friend who loves cookies. She works full-time outside the home, volunteers tons, etc., etc. Every year, I make a mess of cookie dough, freeze balls on cookie sheets and slide them into zip locks. She has the makings for 12 dozen cookie sheets with no effort required other than to heat the oven, pull a bag out of the freezer and slap them on a cookie sheet.

Peter has learned how to knit. With a mess of that Sugar and Cream yarn I found in the basement, he's busy making dish rags.

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That Asian pear butter sounds divine.

I typically take a weekend and make hundreds of cookies, then put them into tins and deliver. The addition of a Kitchen Aid to the process has made a huge difference, as I typically end up with blisters. :smile:

In the past, my repertoire has included Valrhona-drizzled macaroons, oatmeal raisin spice cookies, Valrhona chocolate-chunk, and old-fashioned peanut butter (is there anything more homey than those fork marks?).

I might change it up this year, as I'm getting bored. Said departure is difficult, however, because I now get requests. Hmph. :smile:

I'd like to experiment with dried cranberries and ginger. Does anyone have a recipe? I tried them in an oatmeal cookie, but the texture didn't excite me. (To be fair, here's the link to my oatmeal raisin spice cookie.) I'm still trying to figure out how to make them gooey-er. Input appreciated.

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I might change it up this year, as I'm getting bored. Said departure is difficult, however, because I now get requests. Hmph.  :smile:

I'd like to experiment with dried cranberries and ginger. Does anyone have a recipe?

yeah requests are flattering, but I do get bored with having to make the family toffee recipe every single year ...

for the dried cranberries what about little mini scones? Or I bet they'd be good in a cookie with white chocolate chips.

I have friends/family who are ginger junkies and they like candied ginger shortbread a lot. Also 3 ginger poundcake (powdered, fresh & candied all in one cakey goodness). This year I put up a bunch of candied ginger in brandy so that a few special friends will get a sweet ginger liqueur with some very "happy" ginger bits.

Me, I need a new, more exciting rolled cookie recipe. I have a nice collection of cookie cutters that I love to use, but I'm a little bored with the gingerbread & sugar cookie recipes I always use...

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I had so much fun making Potstickers today, I'm thinking that I should make a mess more and give frozen potstickers, along with cooking instructions, for Christmas gifts. They are an ultimate fast food.

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Recent chat at home and at eGullet about Limoncello, to say nothing of the fact that Walgreen's is all decked out in fake Yuletide drek, made me decide to give this thread its annual bump.  I have about eighty pounds of Asian pears on my counter and my back lawn. Pearcello? Chutney? Exotic compost content?

I've read back a bit, and I'd forgotten how many wonderful ideas this thread contains. What is your guest list receiving from your hard-working loving hands this year?

Hi Maggie!

While I would never dissuade one from making large vats of limoncello for gift giving and personal consumption, your plethora of Asian Pears makes me think you need to look HERE. My local orchard and pushers of the very best Asian pears, North Star Farms, has a recipe page for all of their lovely fruit that includes an entire page of Asian pear recipes. They mght not necessarily be good gift suggestions (I like the idea of canning some Asain Pear butter!) but should help you work through your abundant supply.

Know anyone with a press? Asian Pear cider is just about the tastiest beverage known to man. I've been known to make a mean Asian Pear margarita with some of that cider. Pretty tasty stuff.

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Katie: I see bathtub Asian Pear cider next fall. Great idea.

It has come to my attention that link to Jaymes's Fantabulous Caramel Corn is broken. Try going from here, or head to the eGullet Recipe Archive.

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This year I'm making the cookies on my hall of fame list

Jam thumbprints

Mexican wedding cakes

Candy canes

Fruit bites

These recipies are all from a cooky cookbook Betty Crocker put out in the sixites, the time honored classics.

In addition to this, I'm knitting scarfs for a few friends, we love scarfs that are both decorative and useful here in cold Ohio! I love to knit, it's relaxing and anymore you can get the most beautiful yarns.

I also made my mom a pashi, which is a huge shawl/scarf you can wear in the house or over your coat.

It's been fun! :smile:

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I've made lots and lots of Christmas cookies that I intend to use for assorted mini cookie trays. I'll give those out to the kids during Christmas eve dinner.

I made:

Chocolate Florentines

Rainbow cookies

Gingerbread Men

Lemon & Chocolate spritz

Cherry Coconut

Rum Balls

Raspberry Linzer

Pecan Tassies

I also dipped pretzel rods in chocolate and white chocolate coating and decorated them with assorted Christmas-y non pareils, sprinkles and sugars. I packaged them up in cello bags. They look very festive. I'll give those out to the co-workers with whom I'm participating in the "Secret Santa" gift exchange. Maybe I'll bring in some cookies for them too.

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My Christmas gift packages are for two sets of folks: my siblings, and for two women I recently met during two major dog rescue efforts, one working with several hundred Katrina dogs, and another with about 500 dogs down in Arkansas. Both women and I became immediate soul mates, special women whom I wanted to give something I made. Plus a couple of very pretty Christmas tree ornaments (bought from a nice little local restaurant with a gift shop where they sell a couple of trees worth of very cool Christmas ornaments every year).

But the baked goods are these:

* Fattigman bakkelser (fattiman buckles, as we called them in my family growing up), done the right way -- deep fried in lard, yummy.

* Anise biscotti (a somewhat revised version of a Rocco di Spirito recipe with a little sambuca added to the anise, a mix of olive oils and less egg)

* Chocolate-dipped melting moments (a Rose Levy Beranbaum cookie, buttery, rolled in powdered sugar, and one end dipped in melted chocoate)

*Moravian crisps (also RLB)

*and my mother's very fabulous apple cake, a gorgeous mix of apples, nuts, lots of oil, drenched in a buttermilk topping.

The fattigman's are pretty labor intensive, but I've gotten pretty proficient at them, and they get easier every time I do them. They were one of the things we made every Christmas when my Norwegian mother and my siblings and I would work for a few days over the holiday making Norwegian and other Christmas goodies. Those, the anise biscotti and the apple cake are three of my favorite things, and people love them.


Edited by devlin (log)

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Devlin, more power to you! I have a dear friend in LA who has a "foster" dog, a dog waiting for his owner to get settled in his new home.. I'd love to do something like this, but I already have two dogs.. Bless you for what you're doing to make a difference, too cool! :smile:

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Christine, thanks! The dog rescue work is the most rewarding thing I've ever done in my life. And although I prefer there never be a need for the work in the first place, I'd like to be able to contribute more to the folks in the middle of it by feeding them and cooking onsite. The food's always very unpredictable. Baking for Christmas is the next best thing.

After sampling a couple of Beranbaum's chocolate dipped cookies, I discovered they are actually identical to the Russian tea cookies my mother used to make for Christmas, without the chocolate and minus the pecans. And because Beranbaum's version is decidedly finicky, I just rolled them into a slender log, sliced into one-inch sections, flattened them a bit and pushed a pecan into the center of each. Then rolled them in powdered sugar once out of the oven. They're fabulous!

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What a cool thread! I was just thinking I wanted to do "artisanal" gifts this year. Jaymes' Caramel Corn sounds awesome. Every year I usually do a cookie box. This year, with the help of a girlfriend, we went a bit fancier than I normally do it.

Cookies:

almond shortbread with raspberry thumbprints

peanut butter blossoms

sugar cookies

snickerdoodle pinwheels

white and dark chocolate covered pretzels

chocolate covered coconut bonbons

almond brittle

Doggie cookies for 6 dogs

Much appreciated by all who have received thier boxes.

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