S&Y Handicrafts factory

Room 611,Guaner’Yongtai Building,Congyun Road,

Yuanxia tian,Baiyun district,Guangzhou,China

Tel:86-20-86000438

Fax:86-20-88551378

Email:daniel@syhandicrafts.com

 

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Home > Handmade gifts

Each time I pull my snuggly white afghan up under my chin I think of my friend,

 

Susanne, and the hours she spent making it. Handmade presents are all the more treasured because they include the precious gift of time.

If you can't crochet or sew or carve or weld, don't despair. Your homemade gifts can come from your kitchen. Platters of cookies are always appreciated, as are muffins, loaves of bread and fudge.

To package your homemade gifts, watch garage sales, flea markets and auctions for old plates, baskets, flowerpots, canisters and canning jars. Some food gifts, including spiced or sugared nuts, can be packaged in fabric pouches. Just lay a square of plastic wrap on top of a slightly larger square of fabric, then put a mound of nuts in the center. Gather up and tie with ribbon, perhaps attaching a cinnamon stick or tiny Christmas ornament.

Sometimes the container is part of the gift, as when we wrap cookies in a new tea towel, or tie a loaf of bread to a cutting board. If you'd like to give something a bit unusual or unexpected, consider the ideas here for inspiration. You'll find recipes on D-

Homemade Liqueurs

For a wide selection of simple recipes, get a copy of “Making Liqueurs for Gifts” by Mimi Fried, a Storey Country Wisdom booklet. (We found ours at the bookstore in the Wilderness Center in Wilmot.) Many recipes call for just three or four ingredients, and include fruit liqueurs, chocolate and nut liqueurs, and herb liqueurs.

For seasonally appropriate cranberry liqueur, steep crushed cranberries in vodka and sugar syrup for several weeks, then strain and filter. Transfer the intensely red liqueur into pretty bottles and seal with cork or cap. When giving as a gift, include a recipe card and suggestions for serving.

Liqueurs can be sipped as an after-dinner drink, drizzled over fruit or cake, or spooned over ice cream. The cranberry makes a delicious glaze for roast pork. Cinnamon liqueur is lovely mixed into hot cider.

Homemade Mustards

Gourmet mustards are nearly as popular as salsas. Imagine the delight of friends when you present your homemade version.

To create mustard, you simply mix equal parts ground mustard (sometimes called mustard flour) and water. After that, the additions are up to you. Flavored vinegars add pleasant tanginess. Fruit juice and honey add sweetness. Herbs add pizzazz. Wine and beer add depth.

For coarse-ground mustards, add mustard seeds. Most recipes are a simple soak and stir — soak the mustard seeds, then whirl them in the blender with a bit of vinegar and spices. (We found whole yellow mustard seeds in bulk at Raisin Rack in Canton and whole brown seeds at Healthy Heart in Alliance.)

Homemade mustards are not bright yellow like some commercial brands. If you want more color, add a pinch of turmeric. Store mustard in refrigerator.

Dessert sauces

Myriad recipes for these versatile sauces exist, from fudge to peanut butter to butter-rum. Nestle a trio of sauces in a reusable basket and add an antique serving spoon. Add a recipe card or two, and perhaps a homemade pound cake.

Chocolate Dips

A collection of chocolate-covered anything. Rummage through your kitchen and try dipping everything in melted chocolate. You might find a few clunkers (eggs and pickles spring to mind) but most things taste even better with a coating of cocoa.

The kids can join in the fun. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave then dip pretzels, Oreos, Nutter Butters, peanut brittle, candy canes, even potato chips. Or toss handfuls of peanuts or raisins or M&Ms into melted chocolate and drop by spoonfuls onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet.

Grow-Your-Own kit

Buy tiny potted herbs as well as packets of herb seeds. Package them in a garden basket or large terra cotta pot. Include three of your favorite herb-laden recipes, and a loaf of dill bread or garlic-oregano bread. Your foodie (or gardening) friends will thank you when they are enjoying fresh, homegrown herbs in February.

Reach Repository food writer Saimi Bergmann at (330) 580-8493 or e-mail: saimi.bergmann@cantonrep.com

 

CRANBERRY LIQUEUR

1 pound fresh cranberries

11/2 cups vodka

11/8 cups sugar syrup*

Peel from 1/4 orange

Rinse cranberries and chop in blender or food processor. With vegetable parer, remove peel from 1/4 of an orange, careful not to get any white part or it will be bitter. Combine all ingredients in a quart jar and steep for 3-4 weeks. Pour through fine mesh strainer to remove fruit and peel. Squeeze fruit to remove as much liquid as possible. Then filter liquid through a coffee filter in a funnel, pouring slowly to prevent clogging. You will have to replace the filter half way through.

Cranberries can be very tart. Taste after steeping (before filtering) and if it's too tart, add a bit more sugar syrup and let sit an additional week.

To make sugar syrup: Use 1 part water to 2 parts sugar. (Example, 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar) Mix in saucepan and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely before adding to alcohol, or the heat will evaporate the alcohol.

From “Making Liqueurs for Gifts” by Mimi Freid

 

CINNAMON LIQUEUR

1 cinnamon stick

2 cloves

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1 cup vodka

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup sugar syrup

Steep cinnamon, cloves and coriander in alcohol for 2 weeks. Strain and filter until clear, then add sugar syrup to taste. Let stand 1 week. Can be added to boiling water for a hot toddy.

From “Making Liqueurs For Gifts” by Mimi Freid

 

BUTTER RUM SAUCE

1 cup brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons rum extract or flavoring

1/2 cup toasted pecans*

In a heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, flour, and salt; add water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. Add butter and flavoring. Cool. Stir in toasted pecans.

*To toast nuts, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 325 degree oven, stirring every 5 minutes, until slightly browned and aromatic, about 12-14 minutes. Or, toast in an ungreased skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly.

 

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SAUCE

2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)

2 teaspoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt chocolate and peanut butter with sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool slightly. Serve warm as fruit dipping sauce or over ice cream or cake. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

 

BEER THYME MUSTARD

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds

3/4 cup flat amber beer (or beer of your choice)

1 tablespoon mustard flour

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

Soak the mustard seeds in the beer overnight. About 20 minutes before you are ready to make the mustard, stir the mustard flour, minced onion and thyme into the soaked seed mixture and allow to sit.

Place the mustard mixture in a blender (or food processor) along with vinegar and salt. Grind until the consistency of a paste, with some seeds remaining visible. Transfer to a glass jar, cover and refrigerate 4-5 days before using.

 

COARSE-GROUND MERLOT MUSTARD

1/4 cup white or brown mustard seeds

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup Merlot or other dry red wine

1/2 cup dry mustard

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons cold water

Place mustard seeds, wine vinegar, and wine in a small bowl and let stand for 3 hours. Pour both the seeds and liquid into the container of a blender or food processor fitted with steel blade. Process with several on-off motions until the seeds are bruised and broken. Add the dry mustard, salt, allspice, and water and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the container with rubber spatula and process for 30 seconds longer. Keep in a well-sealed container and allow to stand overnight before using.

 

Repository Scott Heckel

CRANBERRY CORDIAL Homemade cranberry liqueur is a perfect after-dinner drink, or gift for special friends. Steep crushed cranberries in a mason jar, then filter into a glass bottle.

 

Repository Scott Heckel

CHOCK FULL OF NUTS Scraps of cloth become gift bundles when wrapped around spiced or sugared nuts.

 

Repository Scott Heckel

SWEET OR TANGY Homemade mustards make tasteful gifts. Start with blend of ground mustard and water, then add wine-soaked mustard seeds (left) or herbs and spices (right).