Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Handmade holiday gifts

Over on Simple, Green, Frugal Coop they've been discussing lately about what they would like to give away as handmade holiday gifts. Heather did a bang up job with her Homemade Laundry Soap gift bags (run, don't walk, to steal this great gift idea). It looked a little complicated to me, but I'm still wary of making your own laundry soap and using it in a front loading, low-water washer. I really don't want to break my overpriced piece of equipment, but I'm in love with her gift bags.

Paul's starterPaul, God love him, also presented something that, in theory is a fantastic gift, but in practice, comes off a little creepy. His Homemade Sourdough Starter would, frankly, scare the crap out of any recipient I know. I can only imagine their surprise when they open up this gift and discover a jarred frothy swish of Paul's, um, starter.

Now if you read his post you will find that he started it from packaged yeast and its been fermenting a long time, most likely intermingling with wild yeast native to where he lives, but how do you explain this gift?

"Hey, yeah, no, let me explain. My husband's been working on collecting that for about a year and a half now and we wanted to share it with you. No, really, he says that it 'only tastes better with age!'. I hope you like it."

Okay, Paul, I sure as hell hope you have a good sense of humor. You know mine is two steps left of disgusting. Anyway, if I had the huevos, I think it would be great to pass these out, adding a little gift tag with the origins of the starter yeast:

This sourdough starter has been in our family for over 25 years. The original yeast was collected from the unwashed stomach folds of my 350 pound grandmother during one of the hottest summers in Mississippi right before she passed away. It is considered a family heirloom and I'm glad to share it with you. Each time you bake using this starter, I hope it reminds you of my grandmother's good cooking.

Alrighty then. Congratulations if you made it this far. Tomorrow, I swear that I'll share with you the recipe for an easy homemade holiday gift.

In the meantime, what's your favorite handmade gift to give away?

32 comments:

Robj98168 said...

Hmmmm- That yeast from the old lady's stomache folds sounds good.

My favorite handmade gift to give is Beef Jerky! Everyone seems to like it, and it couldn't be simpler to make, I give in quart Mason Jars with a simple ribbon tied around it- so no wrapping!

Also this year I am giving the little kiddies Hot Cocoa Cones, and for my mommy I am reupholstering a headboard for her, as she doesn't have one

Latigo Liz said...

Giving homemade jams, jellies and syrups this year. :) And maybe scone or pancake mix to go along with them.

Jen said...

I am making (hand-sewing since I don't have a sewing machine yet) these bags (http://ayumills.blogspot.com/2008/09/tutorial-reversible-patchwork-bag.html). Inside I'm putting a batch of homemade laundry soap with recipe, a couple of re-usable produce bags and maybe a couple of other things, but not sure what they will be. I'm giving one to my mom and my sister-in-law.

Anonymous said...

Typically we go by what we're fairly sure a person needs or likes. So there will be a few knitted headbands to keep ears warm, some socks, cookies mix in a jar along with soup mix in a jar, jams,jellies and relishes we made from our gardens and ventures out berry picking. Homemade soap and some candles. My neice who just bought her first house asked for a braided rug. My daughter does a great job with the braided rugs so she is making that..almost done.

The hubby made up some wood toys for the youngest two in family.
Some cribbage boards and boxes to hold cards in for the card players in the family.

Mimi said...

I like starters. I think it's not too creepy...

Lisa said...

I usually sew or knit something, but last year I made felt green beans for my MIL after she spit out the beans I cooked for Thanksgiving (not grey and soggy enough for her!)

BTW, as gross as the story you would include with the starter is, you could share a starter by "painting" it on plastic wrap, letting it dry and then flaking it off. I do this and keep it in the freezer in case i ever let my starter die.

Malva said...

Slightly off topic but you should really give the home-made laundry soap a try.

I make a powder that I use in my front-loader HE low-water machine and I wash everything on cold. It doesn't sud so it's actually perfect for HE machines. Stuff comes out really clean. I like the powder (even tho I was a die-hard liquid detergent when I used to buy it ready made) because there is no soupy mess or anything, it's easy to handle.

All the recipes are pretty much the same, mine is:

1 bar grated soap (I use Sunlight cause that's what they have in the laundry aisle at my grocery store, anything will do, including homemade soap)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda

Use 1-2 tbps per load.

Missy said...

I am making homemade pasta this year. I made boxes to put them in that are made of paper and can be recycled.

Everyone loves my homemade pasta, so I thought it would be a good idea.

ruchi aka arduous said...

I like making scrap books for family and friends. Everyone loves a well put-together scrapbook filled with pictures, but most people don't have the time or energy to make one.

fernwise said...

For the pagan friends, home-made rune or ogham (on whole hazel nuts) sets, in cloth bags from fabric remnants.

Baskets (from garage sales) filled with fruits and baked goods for others.

Elyse said...

I like to knit gifts for friends and family. Taking the time to make something for someone is more meaningful than rushing out to spend money on them.

Alison said...

Most of my relatives I gift to are kids so, no, I don't think they'd like me to mail them, all the way across the Atlantic, a sourdough starter. On the other hand, two of the boys do love to cook, so maybe it's the perfect gift. It's too bad because I already bought them books :-(

dahlia said...

wow. i really wish i hadn't sat down to today's post with a big thick smoothie. heh.

and i'd be thrilled to receive the starter, just not the stomachfolds joke during breakfast. *giggle*

The Purloined Letter said...

I'm a big knitter and everyone knows to expect knitwear from me for the holidays--but this year I am also adding baskets of dried tomatoes, jams, pickles, sauerkraut, hand-dipped candles, etc. Pioneer Days really helped us finish up some of our holiday preparation!

scifichick said...

Wow, everyone is making so many gifts for so many people! I only get gifts for my immediate family, so that's very few. And normally it's something store-bought because we go by price-tags on the item... :( Yeah, very-very sad. I'm still hoping it will change in the years to come. I did make some soaps last year to include in the gift, but that's about it. This year I'm hoping I'll still have enough time to knit a hat for my boyfriend.

Rosa said...

I would love a gift of starter. I've gotten Amish Friendship Bread started a couple times as gifts.

I'm a fan of gift baskets - after christmas & easter, the thrift stores are full of nice baskets for about $1 each.

In the past I've given a mix of bought (wild rice from White Earth Recovery Project, maple candy) with homemade stuff (dried fruit, dried tomatos, pickles, jelly, rhubarb jam). I have a book of recipes you put together in a mason jar, that works well.

Or scented bath salts (cheap epsom salts + essential oils). I have a friend who always makes stuff and I often steal her ideas the next year :)

That's actually my favorite part of the holiday season. My boyfriend's family gift thingy is expensive, time-consuming, and demoralizing - and not at all optional, either.

Jamie said...

I crochet, and this year it's slippers, socks, dishcloths, and a couple aprons (that would go well with that sourdough starter!). I always add a tin of good tea, and this year I'll be mixing up hot cocoa mix to give out in jars as well.

I used to make soap - that always went over well. Just don't have time now. I did buy gifts for my parents this year - they've been very broke, and I wanted to get them something they'd never get for themselves. They'll get handmade items as well, of course.

Unfortunately, my husband's family is price/quantity oriented, so no handmade gifts there (those people see handmade as "cheap"...no convincing them otherwise). :-(

Neo@ said...

I think I will give cookies for everyone in a self made box

Chile said...

An alternative to Paul's sourdough starter in liquid form would be to dry some for people to start their own. Bean Sprouts had instructions on this last year some time, I think.

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

If you're crafty I have a few hundred DIY Christmas gifts on my site, oneprettything.com. I like that many of them can be made with items you have on hand, or from recycled materials. I have a bunch of edible how-to's as well.

I really love the laundry soap idea. I'll have to link to that.

Tara said...

So far we've made jams & preserves, chutney, soup mixes and magnets as stocking stuffers. Still on the "to do" list are herb wreaths, herb/salt mixes, planter boxes with seeds or herb starts, marinated mozzarella and feta, and other food gifts (breads & spreads & such). We're busy busy! Also, most of the gifts that we've purchased were handmade by people local to us.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

DAMN girl, that was the funniest thing I've read in MONTHS! Thanks for the laughs.

Jenipurr said...

My little sister and I agreed to try to do handmade / homemade Christmas this year. I always buy books for the kids (kids can never have too many books, and they all love to read), but the adults are all getting a mix of the following: plum jam (plain and spiced), pomegranate jelly, red pepper jelly, lemon curd, corn relish, and apple butter. I really enjoy making this stuff so preparing for Christmas has been a lot more fun for me this year (and we're spending a lot less money, too)

Anonymous said...

Didn't do homemade this year but we are trying out donations to charity since my church hosts an alternative gift market. On the other hand, all my Christmas cards are recycled -- made from ones we received in the past. Also a few people are getting the free calendars that we received from various enivironmental groups.

--Ave

rachel, pe said...

Won't comment on the spew in a jar. Love, Luv, LOVE the handmade soap gift. So doing this. Except you. Your gifts are done. But I won't see you until 2010 so no biggie. Maybe we can transport fondue, sangria, Shelby and Jack over to your abode for Boxing Day. Anyway, thanks for the new gift idea.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Missy - Do you dry your pasta on racks or make nests? Do you use an egg recipe?

maya said...

This year quite a few people are getting homemade beef jerky (made in my dehydrater). It is so good, I'm eating up the gifts and had to make more this week! My husband does metalwork so this year we're also giving his brother a beer tap that is an otter. Other years I've done homemade soap, both from lye and from glycerine; scarves; jewelry; candles w/ metal candle boxes; ornaments. Some years I do cookies or fudge. I'm also buying lots of gifts, but the homemade ones are nice to lower costs and put more of ourselves into our gifts. This year, I'm also buying almost everything locally, and from the smallest shops who need the most help. Exceptions include an inversion table for my husband and shitake mushroom kits for some foodies in the fam.

Fleecenik Farm said...

I am giving some small people in my life homemade playdough.

I am a knitter and will be giving some woolens to some special folks in my life. Otherwise, everyone else will be getting homemade Christmas cards with a picture of the kids.

sophstar's mama said...

This year I'm knitting dishcloths and making soap - wrap a bar of soap with a dishcloth and tie with a ribbon. Ta-da!

Nerd Extraordinaire said...

One year I painted vases with glass paint, and made two matching candle holders. In the candle holders, I used a tapered candle spacer, and around it I placed beach glass and poured epoxy resin on that to look like water (and hold them in place). I made a set for every family in my family. They were such a hit, that I was hooked on home made gifts. The next year, we had a wine drinking-soap making session, where we used store bought glycerin and made all sorts of delicious smelling soap: gardeners soap with loofah, poppy seeds, and lavender oil; kitchen soap with oatmeal, coffee grounds, and cocoa powder; kids soap with glitter and mini tree ornaments inside; peppermint "hand soap" that we cut in the shape of hands. I was lucky enough to have a friend that was a cosmetics chemist, so she got a lot of the stuff from leftovers at work. The next year I made a sugar scrub and a goat's milk soak (it has more protein-use the powdered form) that I put into miniature glass "milk jugs" with little wooden spoons attached. The cards read "Merry Christmas from the Farm!" They were all a hit, of course some of the soaps and things worked better than others, but I have given out the sugar scrub recipe to a few very happy friends! I LOVE making gifts for my close friends and family. My parents /grandparents all live in Arkansas in them thar hills, so they love that a younger family member gives homemade gifts. I haven't told them yet, but I am learning how to knit this year!

Sharlene said...

Anyone have a homemade beef jerky recipe they would like to share?

Condo Blues said...

I'm experimenting with making and using powdered laundry detergent in my HE washer. It works fine. The key is to use a low sudsing soap in your mix because HE washers need a low to no sudsing detergent. I've used laundry bars but also regular old body soap that I had around the house (my husband bought it and we stopped using it because it dried out his skin too much in winter.)

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