Yesterday I was thinking about what I'm going to be putting under the tree this year.
In recent years I have been giving bar-b-que sauce, mustard, applebutter, and pickled brussle sprouts, all canned by me. (And I'd be happy to pass on any recipes if anyone is interested.)
But I was thinking since this is a wonderfully inventive croud here on the forum, that you all would have some great ideas to share.
So, what is your special christmas (or anytime!) gift that you make?
If you can't be a shining example, be a terrible warning!
Oh Michelle I'd love your pickled brussels sprouts recipe and the one for mustard please
As I'm not working atm it has to be homemade pressies this year:
I've made hot chili and apple jelly, pear butter, apple orange butter, mango chutney, bramble jelly, plum and tamarind chutney, quince jelly, crab apple butter, piccalilli and pickled nasturtium seeds. Whew!
I was going to do a Christmas fair but it fell through so I'm going to give some away and sell some at the garden gate.
All recipes available on the Cottage Smallholder blog.
I am selling some through work in xmas baskets:
I have made 3 different chutneys, tomato ketchup, onion 'jam', lots of fruit jams, lemon curd other curds, sweet chilli jelly, picalilli (wonder where I got that recipe from? !!) and finally some christmas mincemeat; though it is rather pale so I might use that myself and try some more...
we too will be using all or some of the above in xmas pressies
I make cranberry sauce ( my niece does chutney, my sister jam so we cover all bases between us), biscuits ( savory and sweet), gingerbread,chocolate truffles. I also sew things- bags for the presents to go in that can be used for shopping after Christmas is over, fabric covered notebooks, knee quilts, knitting needle holders, table runners,table cloths, cushion covers...different things for different people each year. Then there is the knitting- scarves and gloves usually: I try to find either some really fun wool or an unusual pattern to make each year. And I make strings of beads and brooches. I also do paintings for people...and make christmas tree decorations... I do get a bit carried away, but it is much more fun making presents than buying them. Oh and lavendar bags...
Pickled Brussels Sprouts
6 c. (about 2 lbs) Brussels Sprouts
2 1/2 c. Vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
2 1/2 c. water
1t cayenne pepper
4 dill heads or 2t dill seeds
4 cloves garlic (I have more on hand so I can stuff the extra space in the jars full. The garlic is just as good as the brussels sprouts!)
Trim the brussels sprouts and boil them untill tender. Drain off and pack into clean jars. I put the dill and garlic in at this point so I don’t burn myself later!
Mix the vinegar, water, pepper, and salt in a heavy sauce pan, boil for 5 minutes.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the sprouts, leaving 1/4″ of headspace.
Cap, seal, and process in a boiling water-bath canner for 15 minutes.
The yield is 4 pints according to the recipe, but I have ended up with as many as 6pints depending on the size of the sprouts.
Basil Shallot Mustard
2/3 cup apple juice
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 dry mustard
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup mustard seeds
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (dried works too, I'd use 1 1/2 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Combine apple juice, vinegar, dry mustard, water, and mustard seeds in a non-reactive bowl and mix well.
Cover the bowl and let stand for 4 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
Process the mixture in a food processor till the seeds are coarsely ground.
Cook the mixture in a double boilerfor 25-30 minutes. The mustard will thicken as it cooks, and will continue to thicken as it sits.
Pour into sterile jars, cap and seal.
I process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. I have had jars sit on the shelf for 6 + months without a problem if you do the water bath processing.
I have done different flavor variations from Dill, Shallot and Sun Dried Tomato, to Herbs De Provonce. Use it in potato salad or deviled eggs, its very yummy!
If you can't be a shining example, be a terrible warning!
Nice gift for little kids and sometimes not so little kids is to make up a craft bag. Basically all you need is a big zipped plastic bag that you fill with little bits of crafty items, some papers, plain and fancy and if you are hoarder there will be plenty to choose from. Somethings I have put in bags before now
Bits of ribbon
Bits of fabric
Cut out pictures from cards
Small pieces of foam (the coloured sort as I had a big pack of it)
I have also made small rubber stamps from rubbers (erasers for our American friends before you get too worried) and then carved patterns into them or cut out shapes of leaves or flowers attached them to dowelling with a glue gun. They are great for decorating cards and that sort of thing
Hey, Michelle, do consider Fiona's Quck Cranberry Sauce recipe. It really does work very well.
Kate - please feel free to post your own favorites!
Never knowingly underfed
All my suggestions are non-food. How about salt dough decorations? No good here as it is far too damp but worked okay in England and lasted quite a few years.
No to keep it dry. I made a whole load whilst living in England and one year it was really wet rather like the summers they have had the past two years and a lot of my pieces disintegrated. Sealing them with varnish worked for quite a long time, and I found the cheaper the alternative the better as it penetrated better. Maybe if I had used an outdoor varnish to finish off with it might have worked but sometimes that just makes it look too artificial. Oh and it is no good going for the environmentally friendly water based stuff as the salt and the varnish react.
It was a shame as so many of them had lasted quite a while. Maybe they would have disintegrated anyway. I still have a few that have survived that only come out at Christmas time and are stored in plastic boxes.
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