Pt.3 Winter Gifts DIY & Budget buys

Monday, November 26, 2012

I stress now & can not stress enough... Packaging & Presentation.  You MUST NOT skimp on these with your homemade gifts. Yes, what is on the inside counts but your presentation/packaging hold their attention. Intrigue, pulling them in with desire & appreciation for the time & effort you put into a gift JUST for them. It is what sets your gifts apart from the rest. 
 Think local & natural for a theme in your gifts.
Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its *earlier investigation* {Honey Laundering} found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.
YIKES! And that is just with Honey.Once you have had Raw, unprocessed honey from a true bee keeper, you will forever be spoiled to the taste, color and texture.It is DiViNe! Either buy from a LOCAL beekeeper, or if you have your own hives, PACKAGE them up GOURMET STYLE! Truly people. The simple method is fine for selling to keep cost down. But should you GIFT them... Put more effort into it. If you from a local, there is nothing wrong with making a more gift worthy label. Just be sure to add the beekeeper information in respect to their work as well as giving the recipient a way to seek out where their gourmet honey can be purchased.
Unusual Farm Chick's Honey. Jarred & custom Label.
I LOVE the amazing Graphic Fairy and all she shares of antique/Vintage graphics. I pieced together bits I found on her site to create my own Gourmet Honey labels to adorn the Hexagon jars I grabbed up at The Flower Factory {12 jars for less then $7!}. The labels were finished up in Pic Monkey after a simple edit program for combining. Printed out at the local office supply store which I had done on the white linen resume paper, costing twice the normal printing cost for colored. Great for gifts but the not so much for paper labels in LARGE quantities. I found a natural twill cotton ribbon but do not favor it's thickness. It leaves me not so thrilled. It will do for now, but I am on the hunt for a cotton ribbon less "bulky".

  I discovered some great gift & special occasion recipes from a book entitled *Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg.*

I'm eyeing the Limencello recipe for an after the New Year treat. {This is a lemon infused vodka ,only the outer zest is used to produce the lemon essence. Have storage containers handy so as not to waste the excess lemon juice.- I highly recommend using a nice smooth Vodka. I have tasted many varieties from low to high end and have found Seagrams Extra Smooth Vodka with the dark blue label to be very fine.It is distilled 5 times from the finest American grain . My preferred cocktail Spirit. I pay $10 for the 750 ml- 80 proof bottle.}
Finished Limencello bottle photo via Matt Bites
Mason jars are nice for canning and if you really do not have the extra $$ to go out & purchase bottles for packaging your gifts. Believe me, I totally understand and is the main reason I shop for unique/pretty food & drink usage jars/bottles year round. My eye is always on the lookout for sales & clearance items of this category. Over at *Matt Bites*, he shares  the source for his bottles which are no longer available, at the *World Market*<~ click that link for a direct trip over to their current available glass containers.
 Matt has me swooning over these Limencello labels he printed at home, totally making up for the fact he has teased me with those not so ordinary capped bottles..
He explains his label making process and exclaims it truly is easy to do. I like easy.. I like the label inspiration even more... I normally go freestyle with my label making being I just print onto normal paper and use elmers glue to affix them. So you have a few ways available now creating custom labels.
See what a little extra effort does for something otherwise just O.k?

 My kids LOVE Nutella. Personally I had never heard of this chocolate hazelnut version of Peanut Butter.  Thankfully Aldi's has their own {much less in cost} version. Now if I can only find a local source for Hazelnuts, I can eliminate the store version ingredient questionable's. This is not a healthy food. It is an indulgence of taste best for occasional eating.
Whip this up {double/triple etc to your needs} and use spring latch or unusual shape jars with lids for packaging. Add some *Homemade Graham Crackers* ,maybe *Raising Janes {Mary Jane Butter's daughter} recipe here* English Muffins, a small similar shaped tin of homemade nibbles or pretzels for dipping into the spread to the top of the Jar{s}.I LOVE me some Alton brown and recommend  should you wish to make some impressive Hard pretzels, try *his recipe here*. No need to make them into sticks. Just play with twisting to fit in a smaller tin. Secure your jar & tin with a pleasant ribbon or natural twine. Don't forget the label as well as all their recipes so they can make more themselves!
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Makes One - 1 pound jar
1/2 Cup Blanched Hazelnuts
3 1/2 ounces DARK chocolate{72% cacao content}, chopped
1/3 Cup & 2 Tablespoons sweetened Condensed Milk
1-2 Tablespoons Hazelnut Oil
pinch of salt
3-4 Tablespoons Hot Water

Preheat Oven to 350 {F} degrees. Place Hazelnuts on cookie & toast 5-7 Minutes until pale golden color. Remove & let nuts slightly cool.
Put warm nuts into food processor & chop until almost smooth Paste texture.
Gently Melt Chocolate, condensed milk & hazelnut oil in saucepan over low heat.Stir until smooth & ADD TO the Hazelnut paste in food processor.
Add pinch of salt & blend. Add hot water & blend again until thick & spreadable consistency.
Spoon into Sterilized/clean Jar{s} & let cool. Place on lid & store in refrigerator.
This will keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Do you prefer something long lasting? Maybe your just not feeling crafty. Then I HIGHLY encourage you to buy up a few of these* Cast Iron bread pans*. The exact same ones My Captain bought for me a few years ago. I'm not sure if they offer the custom engraving for the bread pans as he had done for my cast Iron Pie pans. But if they do, why not have it personalized while your at it. I refuse to bake my breads in anything else. What a difference they make and once you try it, you'll know why I'm hoping for a few more under the tree this year.
Sportsman's guide* is where their at. For under $17 each. The Captain LOVES buying from them and if you become a member {for $30 a year which gives you lower prices & optional payment plan for your purchases- no hidden or additional fees}. Very nice for budgeting gifts. Back to those pans.

If you do not wish to bake bread in them as part of the gift, then why not cards filled with yeast bread recipes. Even better... A yeast bread baking book.
Many women and men complain about the time making bread. It really is not that much time. If you can sit on your arse in front of the t.v or face glued to your phone for hours on end, then your "excuse" is mute.
Besides, making multi batches in one day and freezing the ones you will not eat within the next 48 hours will SAVE time in the end.
I suggest browsing these for the perfect to your recipient:

Plenty more where that came from. Remember, all my links are highlighted in pink and just in case a comp should display it differently, an asterisk will hug the words you can click on. 
Hmmm. I'm feeling a bit adventurous with the pines dusted in white. A sudden yearning for a stroll in the woods. Maybe a walk along the Lake's edge. Which inspires me to explore' into.... well. I guess ya just have to wait & see for the next installment of my Winter gift giving DIY's for what is up my sleeve..
Wishing all of you the sweetest of Sweet dreams,

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