A few months prior to Christmas I generally make some jams and chutneys, more because the garden is packed with fruit and the greenhouse with tomatoes and not because I am super organised! I always keep some to one side and have them as part of my Christmas hampers. If you are planning on giving some edible gifts as Christmas presents there is still plenty of time to put a few bits together. Some nice recycled jam jars, labels and a few pretty bows will make your home produce look even better. A jar of vanilla sugar is so easy to make. Add a vanilla pod to a nice jam jar, fill it with caster sugar and leave for a few weeks before enjoying in a cup of coffee or dusted over some shortbread.
Another really easy edible gift is some flavoured oil. Olive or rapeseed oil can be used. Pour out a little from the bottle, maybe add this to an already opened bottle, and add 3 full cloves of garlic and 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary. Let this sit for about 2 weeks before use. This will taste delicious as a dip or as an oil for stir frying and it will cost considerably less than a shop bought flavoured oil.
Last year I received some Christmas biscuits from Nick on a gorgeous plate, all wrapped up beautifully with some cellophane and tied with a big bow. Not only were the biscuits home made but so was the plate! What an amazing present and something I'd like to recreate this year for some of my Christmas gifts. Now I'm not much of a potter but a few nice shop bought plates will do the trick.
I came across this recipe for fudge in Lorraine Pascal's new book, Home Cooking Made Easy. Home made sweets without using a sugar thermometer is always a good thing. I made them with the boys, they measured the ingredients and I took care of any of the stove bits. The contents of the saucepan gets very hot so I'd never let the kids even stir this when it's heating up. It took us all of 15 mins to make and then it took about 2 hours to set. We decorated the top with some Christmas sprinkles but any small sweets or chopped nuts would work perfectly. I wasn't a huge fan of this but that actually comes from the fact that I don't really like chocolate fudge. The children, however, loved it and enjoyed some with a hot chocolate while watching Narnia last night.
|This is a lovely, easy recipe to make with the children.|
|One man grating while the other man samples the chocolate.|
|Grating the chocolate was proving tricky, so Jack decided to chop it instead.|
|Millie would be very offended if she wasn't included in whatever activities the boys are at!!|
vegetable oil, for greasing
300g/10½oz soft light brown sugar
125g/4½oz evaporated milk
300g/10½oz milk chocolate, chopped
75g/3oz dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids), chopped
- Grease a 20cm/8in square cake tin with vegetable oil, then line with greaseproof paper.
- Put the butter, sugar and milk in a pan over a low heat and melt gently. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the marshmallows and turn up the heat. Boil the fudge for 5-6 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the grated chocolate. Leave for one minute, then stir the mixture together until everything is melted.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and leave to set for a couple of hours. Once set, remove from the tin and cut into 25 squares.