"A thriving household depends on the use of seasonal produce and the application of common sense."
-Olivier de SerresThink of the English and visions of men in pinstripe suits and bowler hats,women dressed in elegant gowns come to ones mind.People who are polite,well mannered and have good sense of humor.
Images of this politeness and understanding come to life when one converses with Karen S Burns-Booth of Lavender and Lovage( http://www.lavenderandlovage.com ) ,this week's Food Blogger to be featured on Simply Fahad-istic! 's Best Ten/Most Talented Food Bloggers list!
In her own words,her blog/site brings "Seasonal fragrance and flavour from her French and English kitchens,celebrating local produce with traditional feasts and festivals,culinary notes,reviews and recipes" .Karen has to be one of the most influential Food Bloggers I ever came across - Lavender and Lovage is not just another food blog with recipes,it echos of a reason,a mission it aspires to accomplish.In Karen's words,I quote,"I have always been passionate about seasonal food and local produce and I feel sad that so many of our traditional British feasts and festivals are being marginalised and forgotten, something that I am attempting to highlight and remedy with my writing, photography, recipes and food articles".
BEST/TEN MOST TALENTED FOOD BLOGGERS: WONDERFUL HOMEMADE AND ORIGINAL GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS……….AND ALL IN A JAR BY 'KAREN S BURNS-BOOTH'
It is better to give than to receive is the age-old adage – and Christmas is a wonderful time to give of course! But, what do you give your friends, family, colleagues or neighbors especially when the finances are a little tight or you are stumped for original ideas. I first discovered Gifts in a Jar when I visited a craft fair many years ago, and I thought what a brilliant idea they were – the gift is IN the jar and you get to keep an attractive container as well – recycling at its best! The craft fair had rows and rows of beautiful jars, pots and containers, all displayed with an astonishing array of delicious and decadent contents – from luxury beverage mixes to herbal bath concoctions, I was hooked! Since then, I always include homemade gifts in a jar on my Christmas gift list; in fact, if I didn't, I would have an army of friends and family asking where they were this year!
The possibilities are endless, over the years I have perfected numerous recipes that work very well when arranged in a jar, or an attractive pot, bowl or even a pretty box or bag. There is NOTHING as popular as food or luxury bath products when given as gifts; and the beauty of these gifts in a jar is that the recipient can see how much thought and time went into creating such original gifts – MUCH better than an over-packaged gift box that is all cardboard and no contents!
You can decant most cake, pie, soup, beverage, biscuit, scone or beauty product mixtures into a jar to be given as a gift, the main criteria is to list the cooking, baking, preparation or serving suggestions and procedures on the label; and, you must also suggest how long and how to store it for optimum freshness. You can use any type of jar or container – again, be sure that the lid has an airtight seal for food mixtures. I find the best jars to use for gifts are Kilner jars, with the rubber seals. However, most jars with a tight fitting lid are suitable, and bags can even be used for beauty products, or even little porcelain pots and bowls.
What’s fun about this gift giving idea is that you can be so creative with your labels and how you decorate the jars. Marinated olives and cheese in oil look wonderful when a wooden serving spoon is attached by a ribbon to the neck of the jar. An herbal bath mixture looks so pretty if you tie a sprig or two of dried herbs or flowers to the label……..or a beverage mixture can be presented in a mug with a tea strainer or even a teapot! The list is endless, and you can get the children to help with the labels, paper lids and ribbons etc! I always buy a couple of sheets of handmade or beautifully decorated paper to cover the lids or to use as labels; each sheet can cost a couple of pounds, but you can get LOADS of covers or labels from one sheet of paper, and of course you can keep what’s left for future gift making projects. I find that garden twine, raffia and old gift bows also make wonderful additions to your jars, and you are recycling as well, which has to be good!
I have suggested several of my favorite Gifts in a Jar for this gift ideas feature – they should cover the most finicky of people, and will definitely be well received by foodies far and wide! One more important factor is sterile jars and general cleanliness; the jars and containers should ALL be washed before decanting the mixtures into them, and in the case of the food gifts, the jars should ideally be sterilized (in a hot oven before allowing to cool). The order of ingredients is also a very important, to avoid food spoilage and cross-contamination of ingredients with strong smells. A note on measuring ingredients, some beverage, soup and beauty mixtures are measured in cups – this is any size cup that you wish to use – bearing in mind the size of your jar or container.
I have hopefully covered most people with my gift ideas – real ale mustard for the men, snowman soup for the children and numerous cooking mixtures and bath products for the ladies. So, have fun whilst solving your gift ideas Lavender and Lovage 's Gifts in a Jar!
RECIPES FOR GIFTS IN A JAR
A Trio of Festive Beverages:
Christmas Eve Hot Chocolate
Christmas Morning Tea
Christmas Day Coffee
Three rich, spiced and decadent beverage mixes to cover ALL of your Christmas tea, coffee and hot chocolate requirements! These would look wonderful in a small wicker basket with some home-made biscuits, perfect for a festive cuppa!
CHRISTMAS EVE HOT CHOCOLATE
4 cups dried milk powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine all the ingredients together and store in an attractive jar or container. Add a label to say: “Add 2 to 3 tablespoons to hot but not boiling water, mix well and add sugar to taste. Whipped cream and a tot of brandy can be added for a festive touch!”
CHRISTMAS MORNING TEA
4 cups Earl Grey loose tea leaves, or tea of your choice
4 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon dried orange peel
Combine all the ingredients except the cinnamon sticks and add tea mixture to the jar. Push the cinnamon sticks into the middle of tea mixture in the jar. Add a label to say: “ Place one spoon tea mixture per person to teapot, add boiling water and allow to brew for desired time (according to preferred strength of tea). Pour through a tea strainer and sweeten to taste”.
CHRISTMAS DAY COFFEE
2 cups fresh coffee, medium roast
CHRISTMAS DAY COFFEE
2 cups fresh coffee, medium roast
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix all the ingredients together well. Add them to a jar or tin with a label to say: “ Place one scoop per person into the coffee machine’s coffee filter; add water and allow to filter through. Pour the hot coffee into a mug or cup and add cream, milk and sugar to taste.”