Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Seven Days of Christmas - Day One - Make it yourself

I love to give homemade treats from the kitchen for Christmas.

Whether gifted out of frugal necessity (as in my early 20's and um, now) or just for fun, homemade food stuffs say "I care!" and "I like you so much that I made you a present!" and "This is how much you mean to me!"
and "I have no more money!".

We've made a gifted a slew of sweet and savory foods over the years. Flavored vinegars, caramel corn, cookies, peanut butter cups, bbq sauce, truffles, salad dressing, breads, and probably more have been made and hopefully enjoyed and appreciated by the recipients.

This year I tried 2 new food gifts. The first is Vanilla Sugar. Vanilla Sugar is totally easy to make, requires almost no effort, is cheap and is so fancy pants you won't believe it.

Did I mention it's cheap?

Vanilla Sugar

So you need 2 ingredients: sugar and a vanilla pod. You'll also need a container with a tight fitting lid to keep the sugar in while the vanilla pod is flavoring the sugar, and also some small containers or jars if you plan on gifting some sugar.

Place 3 cups of sugar in your container.

Carefully cut your vanilla bean in half lengthwise. With the back of your knife, scrape out all the yummy sticky vanilla seeds. Add the seeds AND the scraped bean pieces into the sugar. Stir the sugar well, or put the lid on your container and shake.

Set aside and let the sugar sit for 2 to 3 weeks. Every once in a while, shake the container.

When it's ready, pour it through a fine sieve to get out the hard pod bits.

Pour into jars, and gift or keep.

Soy Almonds
from More Recipes from the Best of Bridge.

Not quite as cheap or easy, but addictive and delicious.

1 1/4 lbs blanched whole almonds
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup soy sauce

Spread almonds on a 9X13" baking sheet. Toast at 400' for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir often. Be careful to not let them burn.

Mix the butter and soy sauce together and pour over the almonds. Stir well. Toast for 10 to 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are coated and fairly dry.

Cool and store in jars.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I guess I'm cheating: I scoop out all that vanilla seed goodness and use it and then keep putting all the leftover pod material into my sugar container. Maybe it works either way. Your way is probably stronger/better.

These almonds sound heavenly!

Sara said...

Our vanilla sugars would be pretty much the same I think. I don't drink coffee, which is what Scott has been using it for, but my favorite use of it so far is a piece of whole wheat toast with earth balance and vanilla sugar! yum!

Sara said...

And the almonds.....are so good. They taste a little like roasted pumpkin seeds, which is a little odd. But they are great! I'm happy I tried this recipe and I'll make it again.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful idea! Glad I came across your blog, I love it! oh and if you have time will you drop by at Foodista ? We are building an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia and you can also check out our recipes on the site as well :) Cheers!

Lis said...

Both sound lovely and I'm swooning expecially over the almonds - and I'm not a nut fan! Go figger. :)

I love this idea of yours for the gifts.. keep up the good work!! heeee!


foodiechickie said...

Thank you. I always wanted to know how to make vanilla sugar!