December 18, 2003 at 4:02 p.m.
from “The Gastronomical Me”
This quote is appropriate for me as the spirit of giving often comes from my kitchen, and perhaps from yours as well, especially at this time of year. It gives us the opportunity to share our culinary talents with friends and family, be it for a Christmas, birthday, hostess or host gifts or “just because” gifts.
Every year I make a huge batch of “kids snacks” (cereals, raisins, M&Ms, pretzels, fish crackers, peanuts, etc.) and each of our 14 grandchildren get their very own jar of snacks that they don’t have to share. This year I was given 15 plastic water jars from a local bank (they had scads left over from a home show thing and when I picked one up at their booth the gal said to take as many as I wanted, so I did). So, the kids get the snacks and a water bottle to boot. (And, yes, I put them through the dishwasher to make sure they were clean.)
Beverages are especially nice as they may be consumed whenever. Makings for a hot beverage are great gifts for anyone as you just have to add hot water for a warm drink. They may be packaged in pretty jars or plastic zipper bags that are easily disposed of when the bag is empty. I save plastic jars, take the printed paper off, wrap a wide ribbon around it, print a tag with contents, and instructions, and who it is from, so the recipient will know exactly what that colored stuff is in the jar and how to use it.
These hot beverage mixes make a large amount . . . some to give as gifts and some to keep for yourself to make a hot, soothing drink when friends stop by.
HOLIDAY SPICED TEA
2-26 oz. jars instant orange breakfast drink
1-3 oz. jar instant tea
2 8-1/2 oz. pkg. red hot candies (found in the grocery store)
1-6 oz. pkg. sweetened lemonade drink
1 c. sugar
2 t. each: cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and ground allspice
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well to incorporate all ingredients.
Store in airtight container.
To serve: Put 1 T. of mix in a large cup. Add 1 c. boiling water; stir to dissolve. Serve with a cinnamon stick if you wish.
Makes about 8 cups dry mix.
This mix is low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and just 50 calories per 1 cup serving.
5 c. (3 qt. pkg.) instant nonfat dry milk
1-1/4 c. instant cocoa mix
3/4 c. non-dairy powdered creamer
1/3 c. powdered sugar
In large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.
Store in tightly covered container.
For each serving, place 3-4 T. of mix (about 1/4 c.) in a cup. Fill with 1 c. boiling water and stir well.
Makes about 7 cups mix (30-35 one cup servings).
Do you know what “biscotti” is? It is an Italian cookie similar to Swedish hard toast or Danish rusks––in other words, a “dunker.” The “bis” means twice and “cotti” means cooked. Thus, we have a twice cooked cookie.
They are great dipped in hot coffee, cocoa, tea or milk for a few seconds and then eaten right now. Biscotti are among the lowest-fat cookies and are often served as a light dessert. They are a wonderful “something different” treat to serve when friends stop in as they will keep in a tightly covered container for 2-3 weeks or frozen for two months.
Put a few of them in a clear cellophane bag, tie with a pretty ribbon and perhaps add some herb tea bags or a coffee bag and you have a great gift for anyone.
Let’s make biscotti.
1 c. shelled, unsalted pistachio nuts, toasted* and coarsely chopped
1 stick (8 T.) unsalted butter (no substitutions)
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. orange juice
2 c. flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa (not drink mix)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until blended; beat in egg and orange juice.
In another bowl, combine rest of ingredients. Gradually beat dry ingredients into butter mixture. Stir in nuts.
Divide dough in half. Cover dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Grease two cookie sheets. Form each half of dough into an 11x4-inch log. Put one log on each cookie sheet. Bake logs at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes. Slide logs onto a cutting board and with a serrated knife cut on the diagonal into 3/4-inch slices. Put slices cut side down on the cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes; turn and bake additional 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
*Toast nuts on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Cool.
Makes about 2-1/2 dozen biscotti.
2-1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1-1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
3 large eggs
2 T. stick margarine, melted
2 t. vanilla
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture, stirring just until moist.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead lightly 10 times. Shape dough into a 16-inch long roll. Put on baking sheet coated with spray; flatten to a 3/4-inch thickness. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough.
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove roll from sheet and cool on rack for 10 minutes. Cut diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Put cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over. Bake 10 minutes longer. Remove from sheet and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Makes 24 biscotti.
It is soon time to celebrate a very special birthday in our homes . . . the nativity of Jesus. It is a time to rejoice, a time to share this birthday joy with friends and family. We wish you joy and happiness, in this holiday season, with those who are special in your hearts. Remember to pray for our military that they return safely home to their families to share in the spirit of Christmas.
He is born . . . alleluia!
Christos Reazdaetsja (Christ is born)
Slavite Jeho (Praise Him)