Friday, November 11, 2011

Giving Canned Foods as Gifts

My boss rarely cooks... she's a wonderful, creative person, a writer, she makes jewelry, decorates wine glasses, refinishes furniture, and many other artistic endeavors... but she doesn't cook much.

She does enjoy food... I took some pickled peaches to share at work soon after I made them and she begged for more... she gobbled up my okra pickles and when I told her I'd been making jalapeno jelly one weekend, she begged for some...

Her birthday arrived recently and I wanted to share some of my canned goods with her... but didn't want to simply bag up a few jars... I wanted to be creative and make it extra special for her, from me... My boss is also a dear friend and mentor... she's more than just a boss.

Here's what I did...

First I decided on the combination of jars of goodies to share... of course, there would be pickled peaches... she had put in that request back in the summer and she wanted them for Thanksgiving...

And jalapeno jam... and I had canned a batch of cream cheese last spring, that would go nicely with the jam... on crackers (before you go jumping on me about the fact that "there is no FDA approved way to can cream cheese," I know this... but I did it anyway... sometimes I'm a rebel like that)... Mmmm... crackers!

So, I looked up a recipe for homemade crackers... and made a batch...


1 1/4 cups flour; white, whole wheat, rye*
-
1/2 teaspoon salt
-
2 tablespoons butter, canola oil or olive oil; more as needed
-
4 tablespoons water; add more as needed
-
1 teaspoon seasoning such as chili powder, dried herbs etc (optional)
Container: baking sheet
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes









Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Mix together well, preferably in a food processor, 1 cup of the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and oil or butter ( use smaller amount for crisper crackers, or a larger amount for a richer flavor). Add 3 tablespoons water and mix well. Gradually add more water, mixing after each addition, until mixture forms a compact ball. If it seems too sticky to handle, add more flour.
  • Sprinkle a work surface (or a baking sheet-sized piece of parchment paper) with some of the remaining flour then press and roll the dough to about 1/8th inch thick. Try to get it fairly uniform. If the dough is too dry to roll out, return it to the food processor and add a little more water. If necessary to prevent sticking, dust your hands and the rolling pin with a little more flour.
  • Put the rolled-out dough on a baking sheet dusted with a little flour (if you've used parchment paper, transfer dough and paper to baking sheet) and bake 10 - 15 minutes, until somewhat brown.
  • Cool and break into pieces. If making several batches, mix another while the first one bakes. You can re-use the parchment paper several times.
I made my crackers using all purpose flour, olive oil, and added cracked black pepper... I cut them with a small, round cookie cutter... they turned out very cute... and tasty! I filled a wide mouth pint canning jar with them.

Cracked Pepper Crackers in a wide mouth canning jar.
I made lid covers from squares of burlap (I was going for an autumn rustic look, burlap was perfect for the task!) and tied them on with hemp twine. I made labels on the computer and printed them on brown kraft paper.

We still have LOTS of brightly colored leaves all over our yard, so I asked my dear sweet DH if he would go pick me up some perfect, brightly colored leaves... that dear man didn't even question why I wanted the leaves... and it was dark outside... but he donned his headband flashlight and went leaf hunting... when he brought them inside... perfect as they were... he then asked, "what are you gonna do with these?" and I hugged him and said, "I love you! You didn't even question my request, you just went." Lord knows I adore that man!

I melted paraffin and dipped the leaves in a thin coating of the wax... and I learned the hard way that you CANNOT melt paraffin in the microwave... it won't melt... double boiler works! The leaves will last forever once they're dipped in the paraffin... they cool and the wax hardens in like 10 seconds.

I began adding my jars to a Kraft brown box with a lid I found at Hobby Lobby... I first put a layer of excelsior in the bottom of the box and made little "nesting hollows" for the four jars.


I added some of my colored, paraffin dipped leaves inside the box for a little fall decoration... and I tossed in a few acorns we had picked up in the yard.


I put the lid on and tied it all up with more of the hemp twine... and more leaves...


Well, needless to say... Mimi (my boss) had a fit over the jars of goodies... and exclaimed over and over again about my thoughtfulness... but she was equally delighted over the packaging... especially the leaves... and carefully gathered them up to take home and use over again in her fall decorating.

Made me feel happy and warm inside to share!

17 comments:

  1. I love this, my family has loved the home canned goodies they get for Chirstmas each year from me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. On my to-do list this weekend is to pack up a few goodies to send home for T-giving!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I get your blog delivered via e-mail so I don't comment much but I did want you to know I really love it and all the ideas I'm getting from here. Keep up the great work!! I'll try and comment more because I know comments are fun, but just know you've got plenty of happy people out here even if they don't say anything. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you SO much for reading!!!! ~~Granny

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ooo I LOVE this. I'm going to keep my eyes out for nice leaves this fall!

    Did you cut the crackers into circles before or after you baked them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I cut the crackers in circles before I baked them. ~~Granny

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your quick reply!I made these tonight substituting a black truffle salt for the salt. It was wonderful and well received, so thank you very much :-)

      Delete
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