Photo: LadyDucayne, Flickr
"HolidayGifts" news and stories
The first time I tasted homemade candied citrus peel was last Christmas, when my friend Jamie made it as part of her holiday cookie plate. I was wowed by the pungency and flavor that she had gotten out of grapefruit peel and I added it to my mental list of things I wanted to make someday.
I still haven't gotten around to it yet this season, but the YumSugar crew made it this year as part of their 12 Days of Edible Gifts feature. They used oranges, but you could also use lemons or grapefruit (as Jamie did). They've included, as part of their post, a step by step slide show that will walk you through the process of making your candied peel, which is very helpful for the first timers.
I have a good friend who used to bring a bowl of homemade glazed and roasted nuts to every party she attended. I would make sure to station myself near her vessel of nuts as soon as she placed them on the buffet, so to make sure I was able to gorge myself on those sweet, spicy, rosemary-flecked cashews, peanuts and pecans. Sadly, she moved out of state about a year ago, and so these days, if I want a taste of that flavor, I have to make it myself.
I think I've hit on something close to her recipe, melting together four tablespoons of butter with the same amount of maple syrup and then adding two tablespoons of recently dried, crushed rosemary (fresh is probably best, but I have a bunch from a friend's garden that I dried this summer so I've been trying to use it) and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
These gorgeous, deeply roasted nuts are sweet, crunchy, fragrant and have just a bit of a peppery kick. Once they cool, I'm planning on filling up a collection of canning jars and giving them to some of my co-workers (only the deserving ones!).
When you think of good edibles for holiday giving, pancake mix doesn't naturally spring to mind. However, it's what my parents give out to their friends and family just about every year. My dad spent some time working at IHOP during the seventies and that experience with their mediocre pancake recipe led him to develop his own special blend. It's a mix of flours and whole grains, that when mixed with milk, beaten and egg and oil, turns out some truly awesome pancakes (it also makes a darn fine waffle). The recipe for Mo's Famous Pancakes (my dad's name is Morris) is after the jump.
We always gave it away packed in gallon-sized zip-top bags, with an instruction sheet tucked inside the bag. However, if you wanted to get fancy, you could also package it in wide-mouth quart size jars. If you're feeling flush, you can also give a bottle of real maple syrup along with your jar/bag of mix, but these days, that stuff is darn pricey.
While I've never been much of an apron wearer while cooking (although I keep thinking I should become one, as I end up staining my clothes more often than I'd like to admit), I've always liked the idea of them. These charming, food-themed aprons from Etsy seller Snappy Shop would make great gifts for food lovers in your life who are also fans of the unique and handmade. In addition to the designs you see above, there are several other foodie options in the shop.
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