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maggiethecat

"Artisanal" Holiday Presents

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Gosh there are some great ideas out there- This year I want to try flavored oils-chili oil, rosemary oil etc.- but I'm not sure how long they keep. I always have a bottle or two on hand for my own use- But I want to be sure I don't poison any of my friends. I also may try some homemade lemoncello- any recipies out there? :wub:

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kathryn said--

I always have a bottle or two on hand for my own use- But I want to be sure I don't poison any of my friends

Yeah, I worry about that, too--and frankly, there are very few people I know who I trust enough about food safety to use an infused oil gift.

It's too bad because they look pretty, are easy and inexpensive to make.

I'm making a couple of different kinds of BBQ sauces this year as gifts

as well as the usual--toffee crunch, sweet breads, cookies if I have time

those Rollo turtles are strangely tempting--although the perfect use for Rollos is being slowly eaten during the course of a movie--that's the only time I ever have Rollos--if i started bringing tham into the house it could be trouble.

and for those of you who are looking for bottles for limoncello--we've been using Arizona Tea bottles--get em at the dump as we don't drink it.

spray paint the lids flat black, make really nice black and white labels, maybe with a yellow lemon , fill, and tie with black raffia--they look extremely artisanal!!! and you don't have leakage problems.

Zoe

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Well, aren't Y'ALL the artistes!!!

My artistry is limited to cooked stuff, and I got the makings for four five-pound batches of fudge yesterday---two dark chocolate (one will be studded with dried cherries and cashews---a little Guccier version of the old store-bought candy, the one with the almost-pyramid shape with the top point cut off---they came in a silver wrapper, with raisins and peanuts, or gold, with pecans). Chunky Bars, I think.

One pan will be peanut butter fudge, like the creamiest, smoothest Reese's cup you ever tasted, topped with jumbo salted peanuts, and the last will be Latte, with milk chocolate, and flavored before cooking with a good doubleshot from the Espresso-syrup bottle. Chocolate coffee beans atop each piece, after cooling.

Caro bought the pretzels, chocolate, and all sorts of sprinkly, chippy, nutty, brickly things to coat the sticks with; a fleet of quart Chinese takeout boxes with wreath motifs stand ready to transport the goodies to her group at work. She's famous for her beautifully-wrapped, specially-chosen gifts.

Chris picked up flour, sugar, brown sugar, lots of butter, white and dark chunks, pecans to toast and macadamias and dried cherries, ready to make his coveted cookies. He knows the recipe by heart, and does no cream-the-butter step. The dry stuff is mixed in a big bowl, including both sugars and the flour, the butter melted, the egg stirred in, the glug from the Watkins vanilla bottle, and all made into a big creamy lump to be rolled into logs in waxed paper, frozen and sliced for baking. He proudly delivers packages of these all over town, to our best clients, and we'll be shipping quite a few out of state to several companies who send a lot of business our way.

When catering clients failed to order the cookies for a party, guests would come hopefully to the kitchen, anticipating that we MIGHT have just made some, anyway. So we started doing that, as a bit of lagniappe for the host, and everybody was happy. Especially the guests who knew where the Ziplocs lived, so they could stash a bag to take home.

I also have a few bottles of flavored vinegars sparkling in the kitchen window upstairs. They contain sprigs of sage or a cluster of basil, and a couple have a long branch of lavender standing top-to-bottom. I've had the wax for top-dipping for a couple of years, and the ribbon---maybe I'll do some of those this year.

And as for a cookbook---I've got quite a few pages of family memories from all sides of our far-flung clan---who made the best biscuits, Maw's caramel poundcake, Mammaw's every-Friday pineapple cake with 7-minute, Mother's chowchow and pepper relish, her "apple dumplings" made in a 9x13, of Pillsbury crescents wrapped around Granny Smith quarters, nestled into the buttered pan, and doused with a brown-sugar, cider, butter concoction, to bake bubbly and tender, coated with the thickened sauce.

It's more memories than recipes, but since I've had such a lovely relationship with all the cooks in our family, including two Mothers-in-Law, my Mom and Dad, who fed THOUSANDS, and branching out to my step-children's own Grandmother, whose fluffy biscuits rivaled any in the South.

Everyone has been clamoring for a printout of some of these little reminiscences, and they will be spread all over Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and a couple of copies to Brazil, where lives the about-to-be fiancee of DS #4. We will meet her and her mother for the first time on our trip to Georgia after Christmas.

Lots to do between now and then, and it promises to be a lively, pleasureable time.

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In the "so easy I'm almost ashamed to mention it" vein, I planted a ton of basil this past spring, and with the first hint of frost, I just cut all of the plants down, tied some dental floss to the stem end, and hung them upside down.

Dried basil, in those little squat Kerr jars ($.10 each at goodwill), with a square of pinking-sheared red plaid, tied with a red ribbon. I had the ribbon, jar lids and ribbon. Total cost: $1.00 plus tax for 10 gifts.

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Every year I agonize over what to give my aunts and uncles. They have everything they possibly need. This year, we moved to a new state and low and behold, there were two pecan trees in the front yard of our new house. It was a banner year and we collected 180 pounds of pecans. So, this year the aunts and uncles are getting big bags of spiced pecans, shelled by my own two hands.

It will be a nutty Christmas; not unusual for my family :raz:

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Susan--that bag is so gorgeous--I love that yarn!!!

it reminds me of a funny story--way back when--in the 70s--I had directions for a crocheted string bag--much cruder than your elegant beauty--made literally with butcher string--so I made myself a couple, and when my brother and sister in law were going to Europe I made one for my SIL--when she opened the package she gulped--she turned red --and and said "I can't wear this!!!"

the way it laid in the box she thought it was a halter top!!!

Zoe

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I've done a few searches, and since this thread gets so much traffic, it seems like a good place to post these hysterical food-related (not sure if they're artisanal) ideas for gifts.  ENJOY! 

Why give a boring wallet when you can give this one?!?

And these are also sure to please...  :laugh:

Dang I was going to order the meat toppers for pencils but they seem to be out;(

These would make a great secret Santa gift

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Every Thanksgiving day, for the past 10 years, three friends (college buddies, who I have known since the mid-70's) head north for a weekend of no husbands, no kids and no pets, at a posh resort. We cook, drink wine, hot tub and do the like. Now that we are Women of a Certain Age, reading glasses are part of the thing.

And, every year, I give a cookbook. It might be a purchased and marked up book (last year was "All About Braising," with every recipe I've done noted and marked up). This year, it was family recipes, and in additon, everyone got a beaded reading glasses "stringer." So, they hand around our necks and we don't have to wonder where the readers are.

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I've done a few searches, and since this thread gets so much traffic, it seems like a good place to post these hysterical food-related (not sure if they're artisanal) ideas for gifts.  ENJOY! 

Why give a boring wallet when you can give this one?!?

And these are also sure to please...  :laugh:

Dang I was going to order the meat toppers for pencils but they seem to be out;(

These would make a great secret Santa gift

My box appeared tonight, and Perpetual Child included a crazy silly finger puppet in the wrapping. I must have wiped them out of stock --- many sushi and bacon items are sitting on my table. Fun site, great service.

Susan, I am not worthy. Your bag is brilliant, and what my mother calls the "granny string" is the most elegant ever.

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I'm testing glazed pecan recipes right now to find just the right one - sweet & spicy. I'll make those and either peanut or pistachio brittle. I just couldn't face doing peppermint bark and wrapping hundreds of 1-inch square caramels again this year. My husband's got his annual 4 batches of beer, the only beer he labels each year. (the rest just get numbers on the cap)

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I want to try to steal an idea from a snack mix that we tried at Costco.  It was glazed pecan halves, dried cranberries, candied orange peel and black pepper  :wub:  :wub: !  It was so incredibly good!  I need to go to get one of those peel thingies that strips off large strips of citrus peel.  I was also thinking of a box of assorted candied peels.  But then what do I do with all the fruit I don't use for the candies???  Any ideas?

I missed this post back in early November. Maybe its not too late but let me show you the easiest way to remove orange peel.

Slice off the top and bottom of the orange.

Using a soup spoon, insert the tip of the spoon between the peel and the flesh from the top down and work your way around the circumference until there is no resistance.

Now do the same thing from the opposite end, it will be easy to feel when the peel is free from the flesh.

Make one cut from top to bottom along one side of the peel.

Remove the "innards" in one piece and set aside.

Flatten the peel and cut into strips the size you want, these are a little less than 1/2 inch wide - You can also cut into shapes using the little garnish cutters for fancy designs to use for decorations on cakes, etc.

If the inside is exceptionally thick, you can scrape off some of the white stuff by simply scraping it with the spoon face down.

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You can cut the flesh into sections, cut the white membrane from the center, spread them on a tray and freeze them, then transfer to a plastic bag. You can juice the flesh in a blender or a juicer if you have one that takes whole fruit or large chunks. You can also pulp it in a food processor and strain the pulp and freeze the juice and you can also put it in a pan and reduce it to a syrup.

Even with taking the pictures it took me less than 3 minutes to take this orange from uncut to finished. I can do more than one a minute if I am not taking photos.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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Andie:

Thanks for the beautifully illustrated tutorial. Where else where I find that but here?

I have many many jars of mango chutney lined up in the pantry.

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I love mango chutney. There are so many ways to use it. It may sound odd, but I *accidentally discovered a combination of large curd cottage cheese, grated asiago (not too aged) with mango chutney to spoon onto whole wheat crackers or dipped up with black pepper potato chips.

*I think I suffered a "senior moment" when I dumped grated asiago on the cottage cheese instead of the boiled potatoes. I had moved the dishes and switched their respective positions and after grating the asiago dumped it where the potatoes had been ten minutes earlier..... So I added butter and the chives I had chopped for the cottage cheese, to the potatoes, so all was not lost and the cottage cheese became a starter instead of an adjunct to sliced tomatoes.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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One of the nicest "artisanal" Christmas gifts I've ever received was a jar of sourdough starter with a loaf of bread made from it, accompanied by a jar of strawberry preserves (the kind made from frozen berries in the microwave, to be used with the bread "then", not to be saved in the cupboard till a future date). Both recipes were attached to the basket.

We've decided this year the children will make "cookie mix in a jar" for the grownups they plan gifts for. Always useful, cookie mix in a jar. :wink: Probably we'll do Trail Mix cookies for the look of the layers in the jar.

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Some friends and I spend the summer making jams, jellies and relish, which we divide up and give away for Christmas gifts. I tried a new jelly this year, that you could still make now. Steep the fine zest of 1 large lemon and 1 teaspoon of dried lavender in 2 cups boiling water for 1 hour (tightly cover the bowl). Strain and combine with 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and some white vinegar, I think it was 2 or 3 tablespoons. Bring to a boil and add 1 package of liquid pectin, boil hard for 1 minute. Put in jars in the fridge or process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.

I also tried roasting pecans with chopped fresh rosemary, butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder - yum!

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The inventory of what I have made to give is in. Most of it is some of the same stuff I gave last year. The inventory:

4 sets of days of the week dishtowels (I gave these as wedding presents for friends years ago, and after 2+ decades, they need replacing)

36 potholders

one linen string bag

countless "granny strings" for the reading glasses that us Women of A Certain Age require

12 jars of citrus/habernero jelly

I haven't even baked the cookie dough that has been made and frozen

For my female friends who work outside the home, I made 300 potstickers, and made recipe cards for how to cook them, and even will include frozen homemade stock. Fairly recent, but already posted photo of these beauties:

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I dipped into these and we had them for dinner a couple of nights ago, so I have more potstickers to make.

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Susan, I'm off to bed feeling deeply unworthy. What a domestic goddess you are!

I love the potstcker idea -- I craft a pretty potstcker myself. 2007, maybe.

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Some friends and I spend the summer making jams, jellies and relish, which we divide up and give away for Christmas gifts. I tried a new jelly this year, that you could still make now. Steep the fine zest of 1 large lemon and 1 teaspoon of dried lavender in 2 cups boiling water for 1 hour (tightly cover the bowl). Strain and combine with 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and some white vinegar, I think it was 2 or 3 tablespoons. Bring to a boil and add 1 package of liquid pectin, boil hard for 1 minute. Put in jars in the fridge or process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.

I also tried roasting pecans with chopped fresh rosemary, butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder - yum!

I'm going to bookmark this jelly post and make it in the new year. It sounds just amazing and versatile.

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I just came across this recipe for Spiced Salt from mid-nineteenth century France - it might make a last minute gift for the food-person or history nerd in your life. The amount would need to be scaled down - this amount was clearly a commercial quantity!

Spiced Salt.

The great cook, Durand, of illustrious memory, advocated the use of spiced salt, which he said had often stood him in good stead. The following are the exact quantities he gave in his recipe.

Take twenty ounces of salt, four heads of cloves, two nutmegs, six laurel [bay] leaves, a stick of cinnamon, four whole black peppers, half a quarter of an ounce of basil leaves [not a typo- he means an eighth of an ounce], and the same quantity of coriander seeds; pound in a mortar, pass through a tammy, pound any pieces that remain over, pass through the tammy, and keep in tightly corked bottles.

From: 366 Menus and 1200 Recipes; by the Baron Brisse (originally published in 1868, this was transcribed from the eighth edition of the English translation).

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Not Xmas related, but one of my closest friends has a big birthday coming up, and when I tried to get a gift idea from her, she simply said "something to make my life easier." She has a demanding job, two kids, a husband (who also has a demanding job) and way too many other activities.

So, I'm filling her freezer. I have batches of homemade tomato meat sauce, boxes of pasta, potstickers and batches of soup (chicken wild rice, gumbo, etc.), along with a promise of a loaf or two of sourdough every month for the year.

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Not Xmas related, but one of my closest friends has a big birthday coming up, and when I tried to get a gift idea from her, she simply said "something to make my life easier."  She has a demanding job, two kids, a husband (who also has a demanding job) and way too many other activities.

So, I'm filling her freezer.  I have batches of homemade tomato meat sauce, boxes of pasta, potstickers and batches of soup (chicken wild rice, gumbo, etc.), along with a promise of a loaf or two of sourdough every month for the year.

I love this idea! What a great alternative to giving "stuff".

I did homemade jam gift baskets for this past Christmas. Each basket had pear vanilla jam, apple pie syrup, apple butter (I discovered a great crockpot recipe that's cannable), and a random jar of summer fruit jam. Heavy on the fall/winter jams this year because I didn't make enough in the summer/spring. I'll rectify that this year. I covered the tops of the jars with pretty fabric tied with kitchen twine, and attatched little printed cards describing the contents. I thought they might end up looking really cheesy, but when I was finished, my jam cabinet looked like a little country store! These gifts went over really well, and I've been basically ordered to keep my family stocked on apple butter.

Not food related, but I just started a quilting class with the hopes of making my mom a quilt for her collection by Mother's Day.

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Susan, you are a terrific friend and a clever girl. That's a heck of an idea for a busy pal, and I love her request: "Something to make my life easier." If someone asked me that I'd probably dump a couple of bags of laundry on her front porch every week.

Dividend, there is nothing like homemade jam, and I urge you to post your recipe for the pear vanilla jam in RecipeGullet so we can all make it, likewise the cannable crockpot apple butter. Your friends were lucky. (I quilt too.)

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I looked at the calendar the other day, just before I decided it was time to Get Rid Of Stuff.

So, I'm knitting and making dishtowels (thanks, Aunt Martha!).

The stash of wool, some sport weight (doubled) and worsterd) is being made into felted trivets and wine bags, and the alpaca into fingerless gloves, so that my gardening friends can put them on under their gardening gloves on a cool day, to keep their hands warm as they tend to their languising tomato and basil patches.

I've also got a bushes of apples that will make either nice applie butter or mini apple bread loves.

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