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  1. #1
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    Food as a gift - ideas?

    I want to cook something for gifts this year. I've considered mini-rum-cakes, which I am leaning towards. But I really wanted to branch out, maybe make preserves or a jam or an apple butter type deal - who knows. Any ideas? We don't eat meat so we wouldn't want any odd meat recipes. Otherwise Iím open!!
    Thanks!

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  3. #2
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    The rum cakes would probably go over well during the winter holidays. You can usually get pretty plastic wraps at grocery stores, although crafts stores might have them then, too.

    Making liqueurs and putting them in pretty bottles, or even mason jars that are decorated is good. If you start with simple spirits like vodka or a plain brandy they aren't that difficult. I'd keep away from the very popular kahluas and Baileys simply because the recipients may already have and prefer the real thing, but I've made a Drambuie type that was very drinkable, and advocaat (eggnog liqueur) and fruit cordials.

    How about chutneys and relishes that you've put up yourself, perhaps with a local flavor. I have mangoes and citrus growing, but you may have pecans and pears for instance.

    Since I was a home brewer for a long time, I would bottle herb vinegars and special wines and ales with the intention of giving. It's a little late to start that unless you are confident in your skills there.

  4. #3
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    how about homemade vanilla extract for the bakers on your list. i think it's pretty easy, just vodka and vanilla beans.

    also, preserved lemons are unusual, but easy to make and add nice flavor to dishes.

    both will take pre-planning to do (a few weeks, not months), but you can get these recipes by googling or on epicurious.

  5. #4
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    New Brunswick, NJ
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    How do you make your own liqueurs? That's something I'd like to try.

    I'll put in my two cents -- apple butter is something I like to give out as a gift, as well. (I talk like I do this all the time, though I only just learned how to can things last year.) The recipe that I use is really really easy. It just takes awhile; it has to sit on the stove for up to six hours, though you don't have to do anything except stir it once in awhile. This year I added curry powder to some of the jars and I think it will turn out really nicely.

  6. #5
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    Making liqueurs can be easy or hard. There are wine and beer making supply companies like EC Kraus that sell tiny bottles of flavoring that you add to vodka or rum or brandy with some sugar. Then you bottle it, let it rest for at least a few days but more likely a few weeks.

    A little more involved would be the spirit base (vodka, everclear, rum, etc.) to which you add sweeteners that may include maple sugar or glycerin or honey as well as table sugar. There could also be ingredients such as herbs or spice or smoke flavoring or flowers. Then maybe an extract or liqueur flavoring. Bottle and let it rest before gifting.

    The next step up is with a little more drama. It might be steeping whole coffee beans, or habaneros, or suspending a tangerine over a vase of vodka to get the essence, also with sweeteners and other stuff. There's also that one where you grow the pear inside the bottle. (No, I've never done it with pears or any other fruit.)

    The one most people will never do is illegal in some areas even for home use. That would involve distillation and is very involved. That is the way most commercial liqueurs are made though. Not the cheap fruit brandies but stuff like Pernod or Aquavit or Cointreau.

    You can find descriptions and recipes for any of these on the internet and in tons of library books. I'd suggest googling liqueur making or even EC Kraus for their links. It's also the kind of thing that I'd expect to find in yahoogroups, livejournal, and in blogs everywhere. All the big recipe sites will have recipes for clones of Kahlua and Bailey's. View several of them and figure out which is most likely to be agreeable for both your budget and your taste.

  7. #6
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    I make truffles every year and they seem to be a big hit.

  8. #7
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    Do you make a variety or just one type? Mold or scoop?

    I've made rumballs many times but usually keep to one type. I like them best with Dutch cocoa coating them, but some of my recipients prefer nuts.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizzymahoney
    Do you make a variety or just one type? Mold or scoop?

    I've made rumballs many times but usually keep to one type. I like them best with Dutch cocoa coating them, but some of my recipients prefer nuts.
    I started with some simple Martha Stewart recipes and now I'm trying recipes from Truffles: 50 Deliciously Decadent Homemade Chocolate Treats. Usually I make two types - one tried and true (like champagne) and something new (the last one I tried was a creme fraiche recipe).

  10. #9
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    I make my grandma's fudge every year. One batch makes about 4 lbs give or take. I pour it into mini loaf pans--I try to find festive foil ones. It's a huge hit. The only down side to most (I feel the better) fudge recipes, is that you have to stand at the stove for about a half hour each batch stirring while it boils . . . . ugh. I just put Christmas music on (cheesy I know) and swing my hips to it!!

  11. #10
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    Oct 2007
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    Covington Ky
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    I have sided with apple butter; spent the week reading a lot about the process and the recipes. Borrowed a giant stock pot for the hot water bath. I have a 4 day weekend so hopefully I can figure this out!! Yay! Wish me luck! I'll let everyone know how it works out.


 
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