Saturday, December 27, 2008

Aside from a pawn-shop guitar for Greta (a like-new Baby Taylor for $165 instead of $300 new) and a new guitar for Elia (the Imagine by Luna, that functions as a wet-erase blackboard for customized, changeable decorating), with a couple of books, almost everything I gave for Christmas this year was handmade. I just couldn’t post about it because my family reads this blog! Sibs and parents got baskets filled with these candies:
· Cranberry jerky (cranberry sauce with gelatin, sliced in thin strips and dehydrated for a coupla days)
· Chocolate covered dateballs (medjools processed with sweetened, shredded coconut and almonds, rolled in balls and covered with microwave-melted Ghirardelli chocolate)
· Chocolate-covered seafoam (seafoam is like marshmallows but made with a hotter syrup)
· Dehydrated homemade marshmallows
· Almond/chocolate toffee
· Candied walnuts

I also included these canned items:
· Applesauce with apples picked from around my neighborhood
· Cranberry sauce (huge bags on sale at Costco)
· Spiced pears
· Blackberry jam
· Strawberry jam
· Huckleberry jam with berries we picked at the piano teacher’s house. It wasn’t, actually, very good. Not enough sugar and the huckleberries are too iron-rich for a good flavor. I tried making a pie with the jam but the iron flavor was too strong. Next time I’ll strain the berries for a jelly, instead. Maybe the hassle’s not worth it.
· · Lavender jelly (I learned that Pomona Pectin is vastly superior to Certo, which doesn’t’ set up very well.)
· Hot pepper jelly
· Local, canned tuna (I bartered with my friend for it, since I don’t have a pressure cooker. I used a conversion ratio of 2 jams = 1 tuna.)

The baskets also included digestifs using recipes from I made orange, mint and fennel digestifs. Fennel I didn't give away becuase it's like cough syrup. I made it more as a medicinal tonic than as a fancy drink. The orange digestif is great mixed with sparkling water and the mint has pretensions of mojito, if I mix it with limonade.

I created labels in MS Publisher and am really pleased how they turned out. I printed them on plain paper, cut them out and glued them to the front of the jars and candy bags with gluestick. I think I’ll use rubber cement next time since the labels fell off the plastic bags. The labels totally make the difference between loving-hands-at-home and a more polished product.

Greta made butterscotch marshmallows, bagged them, and sold them at the school craft fair. She bartered some of them with other kids to get presents for her family, so Elia and I got jewelry as a result.

As a hanukkah party present I gave my friend a jar of applesauce and a box of individually frozen yam latkes. I made them several days before and froze them individually so they could be placed in the oven for a worknight hanukkah meal. You just put them in a 450 oven for 10-15 minutes and you have cultural tradition, carb and veggies all in one.

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