Dec 27, 2009

This Christmas I’m channeling Martha Stewart…

There is a tradition in my husband’s family of giving gift bags aswell as presents at Christmas. When I first arrived in the family 7 years ago these used to be simple bags of little cute and cheap gifts and candy. I don’t know how they have somehow morphed into something that can end up costing more than the actual presents. This year, as with most of America, we were supposed to be cutting back on what we spent over Christmas, but I didn’t want to drop the gift bag tradition completely. Hmmmm, wracks brains (ouch) for something meaningful and reasonable…. My talents do not lie in arts and crafts, but I am a pretty good cook, so surely I could knock up some tasty treats for everyone?

Ok…so first, I had to decide what to make. I’ve never made jam, however my Mom always tells me how easy it is (and her strawberry is to die for), so jams it would be (and chutney, and marmalade!). I also made some chocolate dipped pretzels and fortune cookies…but these were the easy bit!

Ok…so what flavors..? Well I had to do some strawberry and as it happened strawberries were on sale this Christmas …next time though I’ll employ some small children to hull and chop the strawberries for me!

See my feet as I spend and evening hulling strawberries (yawn!!)

Next on the list would be some lemon and ginger marmalade. I had a glut of lemons in the fridge and a quick scan of the internet gave me a great easy recipe… that was two…what else? Ok some chutneys (actually an American friend of mine asked what a chutney was, Wiki describes it as an Anglo-Indian loan word for a class of spicy preparations used as an accompaniment for a main dish. Chutneys usually contain an idiosyncratic but complementary spice and vegetable mix. They usually are wet, having a coarse to fine texture. The Anglo-Indian loan word refers to fresh and pickled preparations indiscriminately, with preserves often sweetened – so now you know!!

I found an amazing recipe for mango & jalapeno – note to Gary, do not eat bit of jalapeno that mummy drops on the floor!!!...upset stomach ensued! And checking my fridge I had an abundance of onions and apples because the bags were two for one, so that was sorted then…apple & onion chutney (the internet is a wonderful thing!).

Well channeling my Martha Stewart I managed to produce 24 jars of jam, marmalade and chutney. There were some late nights, but do you know that I was a natural (even if I say so myself !) My favorites were the mango chutney (although next time I think that I’ll use frozen rather than fresh mango, they are seriously time consuming to peel and pit) and the lemon & ginger marmalade ..I’m very proud of myself!

I enjoyed making them so much I’m going to look for some other cool recipes to make, and I can guarantee that next year people will be getting some more of my creations!


~ Mama said...

How long do they keep for? How about if you freeze them? Love the idea!

Annie (Lady M) x said...

The chutneys sound lovely. Only one thing though ..... what do you eat mango and jalapeno chutney with? .... making sure you keep it idiosyncratic

Clare and Gary said...

hello Mama...I've 'canned' them in a water bath, so about a year...they wont last that long though

Anne...the mango & jalapeno would be delicious with curry ( have you never had mango chutney in an Indian) or any cold meat... I think you'll find indiosyncratic means something unique to me...and mango chutney definitely is not!

Clare and Gary said...

PS I'll be posting the recipes on if you are interested!

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