Five Homemade Holiday Gifts You Can Make Now

Categories: Five Great...
christmasgifts.jpg
Flickr user 29638108@N06

So you want to occupy Wall Street? If you really want to stick it to the corporations this year, give homemade gifts. Buy the things you need to make them from independent businesses and give presents that have your unmistakable stamp on them.

Yes, it's just barely past Halloween and Día de los Muertos, but some of these take a little time to make--and honestly, wouldn't you rather do this now, before the craziness of December sets in?

5. Hot cocoa mix

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Flickr user cdaisym

A couple of cute cups from a thrift store, a molinillo from a Mexican market, and a big sachet or jar of hot cocoa mix is a great last-minute gift. Use the 5-4-3 rule: 5 parts powdered milk, 4 parts powdered sugar, and 3 parts cocoa powder. Add a teaspoon of regular, non-kosher salt (mandatory), a teaspoon of cornstarch (mandatory, helps keep it from clumping) and a teaspoon of espresso powder (optional). Shake it all together and let the dust settle before opening it.

4. Vanilla extract

vanillaextract.jpg
Flickr user diwineanddine

Eight vanilla beans per fifth of vodka is the rule. Cut them in half lengthwise and crosswise, drop them in the vodka (you shouldn't need to drink any to make them fit, but, uh . . .) and age anywhere from two months (i.e., Christmas) to six months. If you need them more quickly, add a couple of extra beans to the vodka. Shake occasionally and make sure you strain before you bottle. Use brown or green glass, not clear, to keep the vanilla flavor from succumbing to sunlight. Don't throw away the beans, either -- once drained, toss them in a bag of sugar to make vanilla sugar in about two weeks.
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Bill T.
Bill T.

Off subject but I'm all hot to learn to make my own pickled peppers, having given up on commercial. For some time High Sierra out of Lone Pine were producing incredible pickled Chilenos but when they quit growing their own peppers the quality plummeted   :-(

Although I guess they're sort of an inverse infusion, keep the solids, throw away the liquid, although I have succesfully used the vinegar brine in salad dressing.

So, any suggestions (pepper variety(ies), ingredients, procedures)?

DanGarion
DanGarion

The main issue I have heard about pickling peppers is that they tend to come out mushy. Plus I really suggest you find pickling salt, which is hard to come by in brick and mortar stores, you might want to find it online.

I canned pickled sport peppers a couple months ago, I still haven't tried them.

http://eatinoc.com/eat-in-oc-f...

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

If you do them right, they'll come out crisp. My chica does it all the time, and they're as crisp as if I had just plucked them from their plant...

Bill T.
Bill T.

Dan, Gustavo, thanks.

I'm adding Projects Small to my favorites as we "speak".

I know it's possible to get crisp pickled peppers, Sierra Nevada's used to be and I had some in Mallorca that were essentially home canned that were to die for (apparently "Pimientos Mallorquinos", big help), midway in size between Serranos and Anaheims and about the same shape, I'd call medium-mild, in Jalapeno to Serrano range. Another run-on sentence.  sigh.

Anyway, I expect some fails but if I can figger it out the trouble would be worth it.

DanGarion
DanGarion

Care you share the secret? I don't know how mine turned out yet, I just read comments over and over that with a normal hot bath they get mushy. This one guy kept claiming the only way to get them to not do that is to use a vacuum type canning process. But there are people that claim pickle crisp works as well (which is what I used).

Wanda Jeeter
Wanda Jeeter

Rule 1. Be sure to OcCUpy only the Evil corporations, not the ones providing materials for these homemade gifts, publishing this paper, transmitting it to you, etc. Also, not the ones whose stock earnings fund our retired parents and grandparents -- whatta mess if they go out of business. Also, if somebody tells you it was the Evil politicians who caused the housing bubble (e.g., Clinton's decision to bribe Democrat constituencies by forcing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to give 50% of their mortgage loans to lower-income people, many of whom eventually defaulted), tell them to buzz off. Politicians, not corporations, genuinely feel your pain.

Rule 2. Enough with the rules.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Another non-sequitor from our troller who strangely insists on using uniq.com as his launchpad...

Shonen
Shonen

How long can the chiles stay in?

I'm working on a ginseng-chile infused soju, and the ginseng needs to stay in 6-12 months.

(Disclaimers: for personal use, ginseng is imported)

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

At some point the chiles will have given their all. I've infused chiles into liquor in as little as a couple of weeks.

Shonen
Shonen

Thanks!! Great article BTW. I think I'll be trying most of this.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Bro... How old is that Ipod?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

What iPod?

EDIT: Oh, that iPod. I have no idea. I trolled Flickr for photos because I'm so awesome at photography that you all don't deserve to see the fruits of my cam...eheheheh... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh God I kill me.

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