December 2, 2008

Gifts from Your

Christmas Kitchen

Christmas cooking often tends toward candy, cookies and other sugary treats. Like many of you, that is so NOT what I need, but also like many of you, if someone gives me, say, some peanut butter cookies, the kind with the chocolate kiss in the middle, I WILL eat every single one of them!

So I've been thinking about what a tough economy we're in and how much more practical gifts from our kitchens may be appreciated. Every year we are gifted with a batch of homemade granola, and I really look forward to it.

A few years ago the layered mixes-in-a-jar were popular. Why not put together all the dry ingredients for a multi-bean soup, layering a varieties of beans, some dried tomatoes, dried onion, garlic, parsley and other seasonings. Check the international aisle in your grocery for the best selection of dried beans, lentils, peas, etc. And don't forget to attach cooking directions.

You can easily make fancy rice mixes too, varying the seasonings and other add-ons. Maybe a lemon-dill-pepper rice, or a curry rice with dried apple bits. Use your imagination, check your own cookbooks or those at your local library and look for recipes on the internet.

Homemade mixes for hot chocolate or Russian tea are always welcome, and the following three recipes (from The Frugal Family Kitchen Book) for the pricey international-type coffees are inexpensive to make and definitely delicious.

On any of these, if you just mix the ingredients and don't process in a blender or food processor, the ingredients will separate.

Cinnamon "Vienna" Coffee Mix

1/2 c instant coffee
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 c powdered creamer (you can use powdered milk, but it's not as good)

Mix all together in a blender or food processor until powdery. Use 2 heaping tsp per cup.

Orange Coffee Mix

1/2 c instant coffee
3/4 c sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp dried orange peel
1 c powdered creamer (or powdered milk)

Mix all together in a blender or food processor until powdery. Use 2 heaping tsp per cup.

Mocha Coffee Mix

1/2 c instant coffee
1/2 c sugar
2 TBSP cocoa (powder, not mix)
1 c powdered creamer (or powdered milk)

Mix all together in a blender or food processor until powdery. Use 2 heaping tsp per cup.

The chocolate mug cake recipe I gave here a few posts ago also gifts well. Put all dry ingredients together in a small plastic baggie, put in a coffee mug, tie directions to handle and voila!

To get you thinking in yet another direction, consider this recipe from w-a-y back. Copper Coins, sometimes called Copper Pennies in really old cookbooks, look nice, are cheap, quick, and easy to put together, and made a great snack, or side dish with just about any meal.

Copper Pennies

2 lbs carrots, peeled, sliced thin, and cooked until just tender-crisp
1 medium green pepper, diced
3 medium onions, sliced and separated into rings
1 can tomato soup
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c vinegar
1/2 c salad oil
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine soup, sugar, vinegar, oil, mustard and Wrcestershire in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Layer carrots, pepper pieces and onion slices in a bottle or canning jar, cover with boiling marinade, cool and refrigerate for 12 hours before sampling. Keeps well in the refrigerator for a long time. I've experimented with hot pepper in this as well as horseradish and even put in some artichoke hearts one time...all good.

In a few days I'll post some more recipes for gifts you can make in your kitchen...yes, a few goodies AND some kitchen cosmetics!

1 comment:

Alice Goldsmith said...

Thank you for reminding me of the Copper Pennies.
I was given two cookbooks in 1977. They were Marjorie Standish books. My Mom gave me one for my birthday and the other one for Christmas.
I found the recipe for Copper Pennies in one of her books. Thanks again Mary I will try that very soon.
The friend you never met. Alice