Archive for October, 2007

More Great Christmas Gift Basket Ideas

October 28, 2007

In addition to my favourite baking/preserving recipes, last year I bought a really nice book produced by Readers Digest (I’ve bought a few over the years, but this one was genuinely useful).  I’ve just done a quick search and see that it’s now available at a really reasonable price through Amazon– I found it a good resource for all sorts of easy, inexpensive Christmas gift basket ideas.


Really Quick but Impressive Christmas Gifts

October 28, 2007

This is one of my all-time favourites for Christmas – so easy, quick and inexpensive, and always popular. 

About the Gift
The gift is a jar of Lemon Honey (that’s the base recipe), which you can easily change to Passionfruit Lemon Butter or Lemon Ginger Butter.  I usually save a range of small jars throughout the year, but if don’t have anything suitable to hand, you’ll find suitable options cheaply – both new and second hand. 

I buy a small amount of Christmas fabric, and then cut a square to fit over the lid of whatever jar I’ve used, pop a rubber band around the top and finish off with Christmas ribbon – festive, quick, and cheap!  I add a label (or pop a small card in the basket) with the name of the spread, how to store it (in the fridge), and what it can be used for (on toast, bread or muffins, as a sauce on ice cream or other desserts, or as a filling in tarts.

The Recipes
If you don’t have a microwave, just leave a comment and I’ll add instructions on how to achieve the same end result in a pot on the stove – it’s just that the microwave method is so fast!

Lemon Honey
4 eggs
1 ½ cups white sugar
3 ½ oz butter – cut into small pieces
2 lemons – juice, and grated rind

  1. Whisk sugar and eggs in a big microwave-proof bowl until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add the other ingredients.
  3. Microwave on high for approximately 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir every minute until you have a thick, creamy texture.
  4. Cool for a few minutes before pouring into sterilised jars (you should end up with around 2 cups).
  5. Seal when cold.

Passionfruit Lemon Butter
Make Lemon Honey recipe as above, but change the amount of sugar to ¾ Cup, and add 1 cup of passionfruit pulp.

Lemon Ginger Butter
Make Lemon Honey recipe as above, but add:

¨       juice from another two lemons
¨       1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¨       ¼ cup glace ginger, finely chopped glace ginger

Homemade Baking for Christmas Gifts

October 25, 2007

A few years ago I stopped racking my brains about what to buy for presents for friends and family at Christmas, and decided that everyone would get a gift basket of homemade goodies. 

I’ve now done this for the past three years, and they go down extremely well.  I try to have a mix of traditional things, like truffles, and a few different ideas, but in order to “qualify” the recipe has to be easy and simple to make (since it’s such a busy time of year).

As I’ve now done this for a few years, I have a number of favourites – here’s one of them – I’ll add more over the next few days as I get time!

White Christmas

1 1/2 oz puffed rice cereal
3 1/2 oz milk powder
4 oz icing sugar
3 oz desiccated coconut
2 3/4 oz chopped red glace cherries
2 3/4 oz chopped green glace cherries
2 oz sultanas
8 oz white vegetable shortening (you might know this as Copra, Copha, Crisco or Kremelta)

You don’t need to worry about exact measurements for this recipe – it’s pretty hard to get wrong!

Melt the shortening completely – keep the heat low, then leave it to cool while you mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl.  Add the shortening to the mixture and stir it through thoroughly, then put the whole lot into a foil-lined tin (I use an 11 x 7 inch one), press it down and put in the fridge until set (30 minutes is usually enough).  Take it out of the tin and throw away the foil, then cut into squares or trianges before putting into whatever you’re going to present it in – I’ve used boxes and jars in the past, but you can also arrange the pieces on a square of cardboard, wrap the whole lot in cellophane, and tie at the top with a ribbon – very cheap, but very Christmassy!