While I'm writing this the weather outside is frightful. What a better time to warm up and forget the icy winds by staying at home and do some baking. Our family Christmas is over because most of our family will be at their in-laws or having their Christmas at their own homes. This is the year I refer to my little Christmas; which means that next year will be the "BIG" Christmas, which means we will all be together. However, there are always other celebrations and the enjoying of the Christmas season. "Tis the season to be jolly!" It's that warm, wonderful time of the year when young and old alike love to get involved with the preparation of Christmas goodies. I have done some early baking and I did some more this weekend when it was a good time to stay home. Cookies and candies can be made and stored well ahead of Christmas. It seems as I get older some of my baking doesn't get easier; like I know my shortbread recipe by heart. At least I thought so. When they came out of my shortbread pan the cookies were crumbly and checking back I found I had added too much butter. They are good and rich but can't be used as the gift I wanted to give.
Presenting a friend or a family member with a gift of homemade food is indeed a gift of love. Gaily wrapped in a usable container, the gift needn't be expensive to convey your appreciation and thoughtfulness. I have seen all kinds of clever ways to package and give holiday gifts. Here are some any of us can do:
* Spreads placed in small plastic flower pots and covered with clear wrap makes a delightful gift. Tie a festive ribbon around the rim of the pot.
* Little crockery bowls or coffee mugs are great containers for preserves and jellies.
* Cut a circle top of Christmas material around your favorite jar of pickles. Also tie with a bright Christmas ribbon.
* A large sea shell filled with nuts or mints makes a beautiful gift.
* Use small baskets to put to put nuts or mints in and place a bow on the handle.
* For children, place cookies in toy wagons, cowboy hats, small doll cradles or lunch pails.
* Package a loaf of bread for giving by tying a bright bandanna around the loaf.
Also I like to collect wine glasses from garage sales which is perfect for the wine jelly I make. Another gift I like to make is a super simple chocolate sauce. I pour it into a pint jar put on a Christmas top and know the receiver will be glad to have it on hand and use during the holiday season.
(This jelly is a lovely accompaniment to crackers and cream cheese. You can use any kind of wine and a great thing to make if you have left-over wine.)
3 1/2 cups wine
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 ( 2 oz.) package of dry
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1. Combine wine, lemon juice and pectin in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam from the top, if necessary.
2. Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Tighten 2 piece lids. Process for 5 minutes in boiling water bath.
Makes 5 half pint jars.
"Tis the season to be jolly !"