Making gifts for giving this holiday season

Published 12:05 pm Thursday, November 5, 2020

Today’s Special

You never know what you’ll find in a wallet cleanout…old grocery lists, mis-matched earrings, a button, no extra money, and spent gift cards.  I found two, one worth $2.47 and the other only 98 cents.  DW said seed money. Definitely enough to draw me back though, I’m not about to waste a single cent.

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Because, I love having a gift card in my billfold!  There’s such a pleasure in browsing around in a store knowing I have credit!  It’s a similar feeling to perusing the Christmas catalog as a child and wondering what Santa would bring.

I don’t spend my gift cards too quickly.  No, I savor each of them, mulling over my choices.  Sometimes I hold on to them for weeks. Having a gift card in my pocket is like having an ace in the hole…makes me feel rather smug.  Too soon, though, I eventually use them up while enjoying every minute of the process.

Gift cards make good gifts too…as happies, hostess gifts, stocking stuffers and are sure to be liked and used up by the giftee, and that’s the point.  I have a friend who likes to give gifts that can be used up, which is a very thoughtful idea.

When you think about it, there are lots of things which are meant to be used up…like candles, stationery, lotions, hand soap, perfume, spices, oils, bird seed, even flower seeds.  DW adds shells, cartridges, and clay targets.  And, of course, food.  Enterprises like Harry & David’s have made big business out of this idea.  Who doesn’t want a lovingly made gift from the kitchen? Gift baskets are fun to put together, give and receive…and fun to use up.

So, it’s time to get started, the holidays are here.  These recipes will kick start your holiday gift making and giving.  The ingredients for the marmalade and pepper jelly are in the grocery store year-round but make for delicious seasonal specialties to share with neighbors, colleagues, teachers, nurses, helpers, secret friends, delivery guys…who are sure to appreciate your kindness and kitchen crafts.

When ready to give, put the pepper jelly in a gift sack with a pretty holiday spreader and a package of cream cheese or box of tasty crackers with instructions for a party ready cream cheese – pepper jelly appetizer.  Tie curly orange and yellow ribbons around each jar of marmalade with a touch of greenery tucked in.  It is so fresh and flavorful on biscuits, muffins or bagels for a holiday breakfast.

And no one says you must wait until Christmas, share them right now! There will be so many people who can’t attend family Thanksgiving dinners during this crazy pandemic who’d love a boost.  Spread the joy. It’s what we need and, thankfully, joy is a gift that keeps on giving, it’s never used up!


Recipes of the Week

Holiday Hostess Marmalade

2 large oranges

2 larges lemons

1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

20 ounces crushed pineapple, undrained

1 ¾ ounces powdered fruit pectin

5 cups sugar

Cut each orange and lemon into 4 sections. Peel each section with a vegetable peeler, cut rind into thin strips.  Combine peeled rinds and pineapple juice in saucepan. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, do not drain.  Remove the white membrane from the fruit, section each piece over a bowl to catch the juices, discard the seeds. Add fruits and juice to the peel mixture. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Add crushed pineapple.  Transfer to an 8-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir in pectin, bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar; return to full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam. Ladle into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving ¼-inch head space, seal with new lids and bands. Process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes, starting the time when the water begins to boil. Makes 7 half-pints. Label and date.

Peppy Jalapeño Jelly

2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup finely chopped jalapeño peppers*, seeds and ribs removed

6 cups granulated sugar

2 3-ounce pouches liquid pectin

In a large stainless-steel stockpot combine vinegar, prepared jalapeños and sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in liquid pectin, return to full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off any foam. Ladle into 6 hot, sterilized half-pint jars leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel.  Fit with new lids, then firmly screw on bands.  Place on rack in canner filled with water to at least 1-inch above the jars. Bring to a boil, cover and water bath for 10 minutes. Remove when finished; place on kitchen towel to cool.  Label and date.  *Use either red or green peppers for pretty red or green holiday jelly. If mixed the color of the jelly will be more brownish.