Monday, December 10, 2012

Edible Gifts

It's that time of year again, and I'm thinking what can go from the kitchen to under the Christmas tree.  This year it is going to be Dilly Beans (I planned ahead this fall), Maple WalnutsCaramelized Pecans and Roasted Almonds.

During the year I save attractive jars (especially red topped jam jars) to use as holiday containers for my various gifts. I've done almonds for years, pecans recently and walnuts are new this year. Most of the maple walnut gifts are maple walnut pieces for ice cream and salad topping.  I've included a recipe for Maple Mustard Dressing with some of the jars. I separate out the whole walnuts and package them separately, as "nibbling walnuts."

Fruit Cake was one of my Dad's favorites.  I used to make at least 3 fruit cakes for Christmas; one to share, one to go under the tree for Dad and one to save as his February birthday gift. The rest of the family is not really that keen on fruit cake, so since Dad died I have scaled back and occasionally make one cake for the holidays. This is still a good present, however, especially if made in the smaller mini-gift size pans.

Cranberry Bread (photo left) was always the "teacher's gift". For a few years I made it, and then Alex and Chris helped me or really made it themselves for their favorite teachers.  This is always a most appreciated item for holiday fairs.

Cookies, especially Mexican Meringues, Molasses Cookies/Ginger Snaps, particularly in the form of gingerbread men/ladies, and holiday stars and trees, and Nut Puffs also make nice gifts. And sometimes I have made a Cranberry Pudding, our traditional Christmas night dessert, for special friends/absent family members.


Many years ago when "Grandmother" (Ed's Mom) summered on Chappaquiddick Island we gathered beach plums in August.  Old photo at left shows ripe beach plums in foreground and Pogue Pond in the background. I would then make Beach Plum Jelly, the majority of it eventually filling Grandmother's Christmas stocking. Ed's Mom died in 1997 but even for several years prior to then I had no source of beach plums.  However, since this blog is is in part "historical",  I include this well tested recipe, for "Standard Beach Plum Jelly"* adapted from Plum Crazy, by Elizabeth Post Mirel for the "archives".

Make beach plum juice:

Simmer for 30 minutes

10 c beach plums
2 c water

Strain through cheese cloth. Do not squeeze.

Make the jelly:

Bring to a boil and boil hard for one minute

3 1/2 c beach plum juice [I use 4 cups]
6 c sugar
3 oz (1/2 bottle)liquid pectin such as Certo

Skim off foam. Put in sterile jelly jars and seal.

*  In the preface to the jelly recipes, Ms. Mirel writes: "Before producing jelly, you must decide whether you want Natural Beach Plum Jelly, made with fruit, sugar and water only, or Standard Beach Plum Jelly, made with fruit, sugar, water and added pectin. The adherents of Natural Beach Plum Jelly claim that the pectin is an unnecessary adulterant. The advocates of Standard Beach Plum Jelly state that making jelly without added pectin is risky." (page 31) She then devotes several paragraphs to the pros and cons of each method.  As I recall, when I tired to go the natural route, my batch did not jell properly.

Reviewed 9/22/2017

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