If you're anything like me, you are still scrambling to finish off at least a few Christmas gifts - despite only having four days before the deadline. As someone who actively avoids any and all holiday hubbub or excess that goes along with last-minute gift shopping, I have adopted a new strategy this year. Yep, you guessed it, I'm cooking up some holiday treats!
Not only is holiday shopping stressful and expensive, but it also comes with a lot of waste, excess, and mediocre gifts. By making edible gifts at home and packaging them in cute, reusable mason jars, I am happily avoiding all of that trash while ensuring that my gifts are both useful and enjoyable for everyone! These three edible treats are sure to please the loved ones on both of our gift lists this year. These treats and sustainable wrapping suggestions are cheap, easy, and can all be accomplished in one day. Now that is what I call an enjoyable holiday activity.
For The Home Cook: Rosemary Sea Salt
What you need:
- 4 cups coarse sea salt
- 4 sprigs ( or tbsp) dried rosemary
- Chop dried rosemary with a knife or pulse in a food processor.
- Mix salt and rosemary together in a large mixing bowl.
- Transfer to jars!
For The Toast Eater/Leftover Reheater: Sweet Pumpkin Apple Butter
What you need:
- 5 lbs of apples
- 1 small sugar pumpkin (about 1/2 lb)
- 1 pint apple juice/cider
- 1 pint water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tbsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp crushed cloves
- Remove stem, skin and seeds from pumpkin. Chop into rough 1 inch cubes.
- Remove cores from apples and chop into rough 1 inch cubes, leaving the skin on.
- Add chopped apples, pumpkins, and the rest of the ingredients to a crock pot or large, heavy pot on the stove. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer, let sit for 1 hour.
- After simmering for 1 hour, blend the mixture either with an immersion blender, or by transferring it to a blender or food processor. If you are transferring the mixture, be sure to allow it to cool (almost completely) before blending, and definitely do not over-fill your blender/food processor!
- After blending, simmer for 3-8 more hours, stirring very occasionally. Be sure that the heat is low enough so that the butter does not bubble and splash as it thickens, because that shit burns. When stirring, check for thickness of consistency.
- Transfer to jars when desired consistency is reached. I like mine to be somewhere in between a thick applesauce and jam.
For The Snacker: Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark
What you need:
- 3 lbs of chocolate (semisweet, dark, white...)
- 1.5 tbsp peppermint extract
- a handful of candy canes (use more if you like more candy crunch)
- Create a double boiler by bringing a large pot of water to a boil and setting a smaller pot or glass bowl inside. Don't let the water get in the smaller vessel and don't let it touch the sides or bottom of the larger pot.
- If in large blocks, chop chocolate into smaller chunks.
- Add chocolate and peppermint extract to the smaller vessel of your double boiler. Allow to melt while stirring.
- Pour melted chocolate into a baking pan lined in parchment paper.
- Crush candy canes and sprinkle over top of chocolate.
- Spread evenly in baking pan and set in refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Chop into large chunks and transfer to jars!
Wrapping your Holiday Treats
What you need:
- A few scraps of watercolor paper
- 3 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 cups water
- Brown paper bags or a roll of kraft paper
- Twine or cooking string
- A few sprigs of Christmas tree
- Cut the watercolor paper into your desired size (mine are about 3x2 inches).
- In a small pot, bring turmeric powder and water to a boil. Lower to simmer.
- While simmering, dip watercolor cards into the turmeric solution. I had a great time playing with the different shapes and patterns I could make just with dipping the paper in different ways!
- Set cards on a flat surface to dry for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut up your brown paper grocery bag or break out the kraft paper.
- Simply roll the mason jars into a piece of paper, folding the edges in as you go.
- Rather than reaching for the tape to hold your gift wrapping together, use twine, ribbon or string. Since the kraft paper is not very slippery, wrapping twine around your gifts and tying it with a bow should hold everything together neatly.
- Write names on your turmeric-dyed cards, punch a hole in the corner, and tie them on to your little packages with a sprig of Christmas tree or eucalyptus.
Pssst, I made lots of extra turmeric-dyed cards! If you want some for yourself, shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org - they are about 3x2 inches and cost $1.50/card. It may be too late to use them for Christmas, but these little guys will come in handy throughout the year.