Thursday, December 13, 2012

homemade holidays

The holidays are here.  We're in the middle of Channukah with Christmas and Kwanzaa are still to come.  If you're looking for a great last minute gift idea here are a couple of prior posts that have some tasty treats.  Packed up in a jar with a pretty ribbon or some decorative fabric these could be great gifts for the holidays.

Granola or Muesli are a great choice.  Because you can flavor it any way you like you can make a wide variety based on just this simple recipe.  Put in a jar with a pretty ribbon or a decorative piece of fabric on top it can make a simple, healthy holiday treat.

Last year I mentioned making vanilla sugar by placing opened vanilla beans into evaporated cane juice crystals and letting it infuse for some time before removing the vanilla bean and packaging up the sugar.  So in a similar vein, but with a twist, this year, I'm suggesting the idea of flavored salt.  I got the idea for this after seeing all the different bottles at the grocery store.  They're rather pricey and yet so simple to make at home.

Tasty Seasoned Salt:

1/2 cup coarse grind sea salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried onion
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
generous pinch dried thyme
fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into a mortar or a coffee grinder and pulse until blended.
Delicious for soups, salads, and on the table as seasoned salt.
I have a coffee grinder clearly marked Not For Coffee and use it for grinding all my herbs and seeds.

Coffee Seasoned Salt:

note: for this one I use the coffee grinder that actually IS for coffee

1/4 cup coarse grind sea salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
generous pinch vanilla powder

Place all ingredients into a mortar or coffee grinder and pulse until blended.
Delicious on desserts, especially if they are chocolate (just a pinch though)
I don't drink coffee but for those who do this apparently is a delicious addition to your cup

Store in small jars (recycled baby food jars are perfect for this)
Use in soups, over salads, or as a seasoning at the table  

These Curried Cashews from Eating Well are very tasty and oh so easy to make.

One last thought, if you're really in a hurry, is to purchase mulling spices at the grocery store.  If you get them in the bulk food section they're very reasonably priced.  Placed into tea pockets, or into cut squares of cheesecloth tied up with kitchen twine, and delivered with a container of cider the recipient can easily make mulled cider whenever they wish.

Whatever you celebrate, whatever your reason for the season, I hope that it is filled with warmth, laughter, love, and joy.  May you all have a happy, healthy holiday season.

photo: mattbuck

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