Okay, Okay, I have been yammering on and on about saving money by giving a holiday gift that you can make. I have offered a few links to a few sites but have not really shared with you an idea that anyone can do at any skill level. Well here it is flavored oils, vinegars and rubs! You see these in specialty stores all the time and shop owners can charge some hefty prices. This year, you can give these über chic gifts for just a fraction of the cost.
First things if first, let’s round up those empty wine and beer bottles. Run them through the dishwasher and use some peanut butter to remove the excess gunk from the labels. Let’s start simple with a basic herb oil, most people will choose a thyme. I like to use fennel. I pulled this recipe from Allyou.com.
Springs of Dried Thyme, 2 teaspoons of peppercorns, 1 1/2 cups oil (vegetable or olive)
Place all ingredients in a pot. Warm over medium-low heat. Using a candy thermometer, check oil until the thermometer reads 165ºF. Allow the oil to cool, then strain; reserving thyme and peppercorns. Pour into bottle. Add thyme and peppercorns. Cork; chill for up to 1 month.
Pretty simple isn’t it? Now let’s really go poo-poo Chi-Chi with some rubs for steaks and chops. I usually make my own instead of paying the $4.50 a jar from the shelf brands. If I make my own I can also monitor the sodium content. Here is a simple recipe. I also like to use the little jars for preserves. Prep time for this simple gift idea takes about 5 minutes and this recipe only makes about 2 jars.
1/3 cup cumin 3 tablespoons allspice 4 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne 1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mix well and then distribute evenly in jars. Seal jar tightly and add ribbons of cute labels. I found some really regal labels on the Microsoft.com template page.
And last but not least, herbal vinegars. I picked this little recipe up from Colorado State University. These require a little more work and know how, but once you learn the technique, this is a gift that can literally keep on giving.
- 4 cups red wine vinegar
- 8 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon sage leaves
Thoroughly wash herbs and dip in solution of 1 teaspoon household bleach in 6 cups water. Rinse thoroughly under cool running water and pat dry. Place herbs in sterilized quart jar. Heat the vinegar to just below boiling point (190 F); pour over herbs. Cap tightly and allowing the vinegars to stand in cool, dark place for three to four weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain out herbs. Pour vinegar into clean sterilized bottles with tight fitting covers. Add a fresh sprig of cleaned and sanitized parsley, if desired. Store in the refrigerator. This recipe makes 1 quart.
Check back with me later in the week as I start to tackle those New Year’s resolutions you have been thinking about and know you are not going to follow. Hopefully, I can help you plan some new resolutions that are doable.
- Affordable and Thoughtful Holiday Gifts from Your Kitchen (couponshoebox.com)
- Flavored Popcorn Kit (gift idea) (abeautifulmess.typepad.com)
- Fool-proof vinegar infusions (ask.metafilter.com)