JOPLIN, Mo. —
There's still time. You have a few days left to wrap up your shopping -- pun intended.
Whether you think you're done or you haven't started yet, don't fret. I have some great ideas for you.
I would always rather receive a personal gift. I'm delighted to unwrap a thoughtful little something that someone has made for me. Think outside the box and the mall. If you're not feeling the spirit of Martha Stewart this year, try shopping around at a flea market. They're a dime a dozen and full of treasures. Don't worry about looking cheap. If you purchase thoughtfully, you will impress. Maybe they will do the same for you next year.
Repurposing items is all the rage. Jump on the bandwagon. Consider it recycling. Just yesterday I became the recipient of a used Leon Redbone CD with a cracked case that I wouldn't want any other way.
Presentation is what makes a handmade gift extra special. Make it pretty. Use a fancy ribbon and take care in making a personalized tag. Follow through with your homemade, thoughtful gift. See it through till the end. They will appreciate your effort.
I love the gift of food. Because I'm sentimental by nature, I really make an effort to avoid collecting stuff. I have to save room in my little house for the stuff that counts, like every single piece of paper with a scribble on it from my child. And trinkets from my travels. And trinkets from my childhood, along with my mom's, brothers, best friends and whoever else's it seems sometimes. Therefore, I love a little treat to eat, and then it's gone.
With that in mind, consider making a few batches of the following. Package them in a fancy manner and you're good to go. If you've already purchased your gifts, tie a little bag of something handmade to their name tag. You can't lose. Try one of these suggestions. I know I would be thrilled to receive any of them. Hint, hint.
- Mulling sachets: Fill 6-inch rounds of cheesecloth with chunks of cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves, peppercorns and cardamom. Tie with twine. Include instructions to steep in cider, tea or wine for about 5 minutes.
- Popcorn tin: Make your own flavored popcorns and put in a cute tin. Use card stock cut to fit the tin as dividers between the popcorn. Make a tag with a description of your homemade creations.
- Spice rub: Combine spices you probably already have to make a personalized spice rub. Or use Martha Stewart's All-Purpose Spice Rub recipe. Divide it among small jars.
- Personal coffee blend: Use a good quality, medium bodied ground coffee. Mix with cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla beans, scraped from the pods. Put the coffee in bags with a coated lining, found at craft stores. Finish with a ribbon and a personalized label.
- Rosemary honey: I love this recipe! Eight cups mild honey and 10 sprigs rosemary. In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook honey and 6 sprigs rosemary just until honey begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Using tongs remove and discard rosemary sprigs and any stray leaves. To decant, divide honey among 4 clean 16-ounce jars. Let cool completely, about 40 minutes. Insert 1 fresh sprig rosemary into each jar, and tighten lids to seal. From Country Living.
- Gifts in a jar: Layer cookie or soup ingredients in a jar with a cute ribbon and tag with instructions.
- Bread and butter: Use mini loaf pans to bake quick breads or tiny raised loaves. Whip up some real butter and put it in an even tinier jar. Tie it all up with a ribbon and you have homemade love. Plus a cute loaf pan to boot.
Biscotti are one of my favorite gifts to give. Because it's a hard, dunking cookie it can be made in advance with no fear of becoming stale. This one is my favorite biscotti recipes. It's amazing with coffee or hot chocolate. Or milk. Or just in my mouth waiting for my saliva to make it moist enough to chew. It's that good. And you can use whole wheat flour, and no one is the wiser. You know I love that.
Double chocolate-pecan biscotti
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (If I don't have pecans, I use extra chocolate chips. That's right.)
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar (I omit this, although I'm sure it looks pretty)
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Butter and flour a large baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat together 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon softened butter with 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in flour mixture to form stiff dough. Add pecans and chocolate chips; mix to combine. Divide the dough in half or you can make 4 smaller logs. On the greased baking sheet, shape into 2 slightly flattened logs (about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide). Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake logs for 35 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool the logs on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove logs to a cutting board. Cut the logs diagonally into 3/4 inch slices. Place back on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for about another 7-10 minutes. Cool on a rack. From www.recipe.zaar.com.
Have questions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail her cÚo The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.