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maggiethecat

"Artisanal" Holiday Presents

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I'm thinking Christopher Elbow's Chocolate and Whiskey Liqueur. It's incredibly delicious.

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chocola...whiskey-liqueur

I'd like to also do cookies and other goodies, but somehow I always either a) remember more people who need gifts at the last minute or b) decide that my boxes are not sufficiently stuffed and come up a little short. So this is going to be my easy whip-up-at-the-last-minute addition.

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For many years my husband and I made Lemon Curd for gifts. It's very easy to make and keeps well. Some people were crazy for it and begged for another jar a week later. Others (mostly relatives) looked crestfallen when they received it a second year. It was very good, but I burned out on it and now don't really care for it much. Besides, I think it was just an excuse for showing off our own cool labels bearing a cartoon of our Australian Shepherd. Our brand was called "Bossy Aussie."

Before that we made seasoned vinegars with different herbs. Pathetic confession: one year (and this is a low point as far as inspiration goes) we bought a giant quantity of expensive olive oil and decanted it into smaller bottles for gifts. We probably had the nerve to slap our own labels on, too. Actually great olive oil is a gift I would always be happy to get.

Most dreaded homemade gift: an orange stuck with cloves. Only appropriate if it comes from someone under the age of four. And even then it's a puzzle. Grown-ups who make them are scary.

Favorite gift: my father-in-law's home cured olives.

Most surprising gift that seemed inane but turned out to be useful: pine cones waxed and wicked or somehow treated for use as wood fire starters. I have a feeling it was a lot of work; my in-laws only did that once.

Gift no one's ever given me that I would love to receive: really great bitter marmalade. Fine cut, a bit on the soupy side, clear, not cloudy.

Love that story upthread about the sister-in-law and the sexy crocheted shopping bag.

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There are so many excellent ideas in this thread, it's difficult to shortlist. As I was talking to somebody yesterday on what to make, he gave me the idea of making gingerbread houses. So, this year, I'm going to make GB house kits* (bought the packaging for it yesterday), some to sell, some to give as gifts, in addition to cookie boxes ( MUST include cuccidati) and mini 5" decorated fruit cakes (also just bought the moulds yesterday - the cutest little chiffon cake moulds).

* Problem I have is we don't have meringue powder here. I can only pack in confectioner's sugar and include instructions to make royal icing with egg whites.

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I'm in awe. You're making gingerbread house kits? Lucky recipients.

I know the lure of the chiffon cake molds -- they are adorable. I'm using mine as molds for kitchen-cooked soaps. Have the glycerine base, fab essential oils and the honey, cream and crushed apricot kernel additives

Packaged with rolls of my chocolate-dipped lime shortbread.

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Most surprising gift that seemed inane but turned out to be useful: pine cones waxed and wicked or somehow treated for use as wood fire starters. I have a feeling it was a lot of work; my in-laws only did that once.

Gift no one's ever given me that I would love to receive: really great bitter marmalade. Fine cut, a bit on the soupy side, clear, not cloudy.

Love that story upthread about the sister-in-law and the sexy crocheted shopping bag.

The pine cones were for sure time-consuming, but you remember them fondly, so that counts.

If I could receive a jar of the marmalade you describe, I'd prize it over a Tiffanny's blue box.

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Ya'll are such an inspiration!!

I've already planned on putting together cookie tins for friends with Triple Ginger Cookies, biscotti of some sort, and perhaps some homemade chocolates. My mint marshmallows are a favorite with the kids, my DH calls them Altoid marshmallows since they are curiously strong...perfect in hot chocolate! I'll likely try some of the amazing marshallow flavors on the marshmallow thread.

For my nearest and dearest non-cooks I think I will put together a frozen Mexican gift bag with vacuume sealed portions of refried beans and tinga and maybe some tamales that a girl I know gets for me. Perhaps I'll finally learn to make decent flour tortillas, those freeze beautifully if done right.

Keep the ideas coming!!! I'll be checking in regularly, the holidays are creaping up FAST!

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Last year I did some marshmallows (choc, vanilla, and strawberry from Nightscotsman's recipe), chocolate covered marshmallows, toffee bark, and salty caramels. The caramels aren't pictured here, but they were just plain squares. This year I'm definitely making the praline milk jam from Christine Ferber's book, Mes Confitures. That stuff is amazing! A bad pic of last year's stuff:

329747306_353a50f174.jpg


Edited by plk (log)

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I plan on making a few jars of mostarda di frutta, in addition to the candied fruits in syrup and glacé fruits I have made before. I have a tiny bottle of Italian mustard oil a friend brought back from a trip to Italy.

I bought a couple of jars of the mostarda di frutta from Chef's catalog and figure I can do this.

It is much milder than the other mostardas I have tried.

I've already made a big batch of candied ginger. Some I am going to dry much more and grind to a granular consistency to include in a homemade chai mix, or just plain to add to brewed tea.

I also am going to make a few bay laurel wreaths as my bushes have to be pruned anyway. Also some rosemary "brooms" to hang in a kitchen, either as decor or to use in cooking.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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I'm in awe. You're making gingerbread house kits? Lucky recipients.

I know the lure of the chiffon cake molds -- they are adorable. I'm using mine as molds for kitchen-cooked soaps. Have the glycerine base, fab essential oils and the honey, cream and crushed apricot kernel additives

Packaged with rolls of my chocolate-dipped lime shortbread.

LOL, the houses, not being western-sized ones, will be manageable. I had a GB house decorating party one year, with 6 teams. My guests had a lot of fun and kept thanking me for such a great time for a long while after.

I can't believe there are more lovely fresh ideas with a personal touch coming up this year!

Reading andiesenji's wreath project, how nice if I could make fresh laurel ones (or receive one). I made some bread wreaths (with salted dead dough) last year and sent to 2 american friends and one german. All developed a nice fuzz on reaching their destination (5 - 8 days). :shock::wacko: Moral of the story. Make sure they are baked real nice and dry. On hindsight, I think packing with dessicants might have helped. Or not.


Edited by Tepee (log)

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I'm thinking of doing my brother some Vanilla Vodka. Simple and looks really cool.

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for the people i work with - and john's people - i'm thinking about doing the "snowman poop" poem with the mini marshmallows and a spoon dipped in dark chocolate

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I've made 8 Aprons so far with 4 more to go. I am also going to distribute cookie tins with 5 or 6 varieties of cookies in them (haven't decided which I'm going to bake) and I made a few Bags for my teen nieces. That's the extent of my homemade gifts, everything else has been/will be bought.

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I'm having a Christmas party this year, so I'm making an assortment of Christmas cookies to give out as favors to my guests. I had personalized window boxes printed and will box up the cookies in them.

Not terribly original, but for some reason homemade Christmas cookies always seem to be appreciated. I made about 8 different varieties in 2005 and some went over better than others. So I'll stick to those popular ones (spritz, gingerbread, lace, pecan tassies) and add a few new varieties to the mix (thumbprint & peanut butter blossoms).

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I do care packages surrounding a purchased gift for my family ..so I know they are all eating right...

so far I have vanilla going (from the thread on this board thank you all so much that was the easiest project on the planet and ready to bottle (I just tested it in a cake and it is out of this world)

home dried veggies/spice mix and boullion to be part of a soup and pilaf mix in a bag or a jar .. (I need some cool bags from some place I think the bags are easier to ship...any ideas?)

home made beef jerky (again I need bags)

dried fruits like apples with all the stuff for a pie in a bag as well .

dried garden herbs

dried lavendar gallore

blackberry cordial (this is the best batch ever I used some local fireweed honey in it and the berries just popped with flavor)

cookies..candy

I know fudge has been done to death but my dad loves it and his mom used to make a cocoa power fudge with canned milk

this would be a highlight for my father so if you have a recipe and share it with me I would be so grateful

more to come ...

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I suppose I'll try to pass off some pickled asparagus, again. In May a friend and I did up 50 lbs (fresh wt). You do lose a lot cutting to fit the jars. Actually, I think this year's turned out well.

gallery_56241_5324_13057.jpg

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So many good ideas!

I have a set of cutters for making really small gingerbread houses - but never thought of using them for gifts. So much cooler than cookies - thanks!

Potstickers: great, great, great gift for people with big freezers! And you pass the "good wife" test for the number of folds on your potstickers too.

Aprons - I believe this is an item whose time has come round again. I'm considering ordering from here...or maybe drafting some in my sewing software. Reasoning: there's a need for "visitin' wear" aprons for community or school events etc, when every right-thinking Japanese woman is in a smart apron with a designer logo on it, and the social failures (=me) are in $3 numbers from the hardware store.

I like to have a handtowel handy,so I add either a button to hang a looped towel from, or a kind of large, horizontal belt-loop for threading a towel through.

Flavored salts - that's another great idea, maybe a tiny set with spiced salt, citrus zest salt, chili and spice salt, green tea salt...

I asked my boys what they liked best to receive - they came up with HOMEMADE JERKY!

That was their compromise on the question of "Gifts to eat now, or to eat later?". They were distressed by the idea of receiving food NOT intended for immediate consumption, and were all for cookies, breads, fruit cake, etc.

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Regarding aprons. I used to make a lot of aprons. Not for cooking but for people to wear at dog shows to keep their cloths clean while grooming their dogs ready for the ring.

They had ties but each tie had a grommet in the end and they were not tied but hooked together with a shower curtain loop or a double ended bolt snaphttp://www.umei.com/hooks/schematic/double...oks-hm-928A.htm]available at any hardware store., both removable for laundry.

Also, these are much easier to fasten or remove than knotted ties. The towels also got a grommet in one corner and several could be hooked onto a shower curtain hook so they could be hung up to dry, taking little room and a single one could also be hooked onto the waist tie the same way.

I still have a box full of grommets.......... Also a bag full of shower curtain hooks - they come in handy for a lot of things.

I also have a bunch of bolt snaps, both single and double.

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I think I'm going to put some cookbooks together via epicurious.com

I've used so many recipes from that site for parties and weddings etc. that close friends would really appreciate the recipes all in on place and bound. Plus you can add your own. only problem is I'll have to make at least 5 just to get my filed into a book (for me). Then I have to edit and remember what recipes were used when so there's a theme (for gifts). I love this idea, but will probably only do for my sister and my fellow foodie friends.

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I saw in the food section of Marshalls (my favorite spot) canning jars of "Brining Salt". One had dried lemon peel and there were other more complicated flavors. The one I thought I could duplicate contained only kosher salt, sugar, whole peppercorns and dried garlic and dried onion. It was $7.99.

I'm searching the web for instructions to print up, and proportions. I have plenty of nice jars and I think this will be easy, and well received by adult sons.

I'm also making Pille's candied almonds and have been practicing folding paper cones for the authentic presentation.

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None of these things are "artisanal" but they are homemade. I'm making my kids and mom gift baskets with a bunch of interesting foods. So far I have hazelnut granola, which will have home-dried organic pears and apples in it. The hazelnuts are from a trip to Oregon this year. Maybe it qualifies for artisan status since I have to crack pounds of hazelnuts.

I'm also making Limoncello, candied orange peel to dip in chocolate, orange marmalade with ginger, hot chocolate mix (sugar free and with sugar), marshmallows, homemade vanilla, good crackers, onion confit, pet treats, and a fruit and nut mix I mentioned in another thread that I hope to be something like Sahale Snacks--combinations of pecans, cranberries, orange, and hot pepper, and another one with hazelnuts, ginger, pumpkin seeds, and maybe dried pear or apple. Not sure yet.

I'm not sure what else I'll make, but I'm having good messy fun in the kitchen right now.

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When I was up north this past Thanksgiving Day weekend for my annual long weekend with my college buddies (the 11th annual!), we walked across the highway and took a basket weaving class at the wonderful knitting/basket shop across the highway. For $20.00, we got instruction in making a basket, and supplies to make 10 more of the baskets. We opted to make garlic baskets. This one will hang on my kitchen wall when I decide just where to put it, but it could also hang on a magnetic hook on the fridge.

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Anyone want to guess what the women in my life are getting for Christmas?

Stay tuned for felted oven mitts.

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Stay tuned for felted oven mitts.

Oh PLEASE. I need a use for those sweaters I bought at Goodwill and shrunk (felted?) up. I have made nice thick drink coasters.....but not exciting. In Helsinki, where real felting (virgin wool) is an art I saw some wonderful pins made of colorful wool with buttons sewn on. Guess I've strayed from food, maybe I could fill the oven mitts with some mix.....brownie mix in a jar/bag.

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I made Fig and Roasted Grape Chutney and Espresso Candied Walnuts both from this months Bon Appetit along with Cardamom squares with dark chocolate and espresso icing that I make every year. The chutney is great and very attractive in a glass jar.

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Felted oven mitts. I knit these (didn't cut them up from accidentally washed and dried wool sweaters). I must say that I don't know that I would have bought this yarn except it was $1.50 for an almost 400 yard skein for worsted weight wool.

The felted mitten is on the left; the other's are unfelted. The one in the middle was with two strands of wool, the one on the right with only one strand of wool.

gallery_6263_35_54048.jpg

The mitt knit with two strands of yarn was, when felted, a bit too thick and unweildy, but the one knit with one strand of yarn was perfect.

Stay tuned for a felted knit tea cozy and a trivet!

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Susan I love that groovy variegated yard.

Could you explain what felting is? I can see the difference between them, and imagine that the extra thickness and tightness is what you're after. Is the shrinkage predictable, that is, can you know how much extra size to allow for so the finished product is just right? Reminds me of boiled wool jackets... probably a similar process, eh?

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