Tuesday 26 November 2013

Deck the Halls with Homemade Presents

You know I love people that make me laugh and this hilarious chick is NO exception. She has caused me to clean many a keyboard because I have snorted coffee all over it.

There is nothing I don't adore about this gorgeous blogger.... except maybe the fact that she cooks way better than me.

For anyone who has not yet had the pleasure, let me formally introduce to Danielle from Keeping Up With The Holsbys. Over to you chick!


Can you believe I got dumped two years in a row at Christmas time?
Not by the same dude.

Two different dudes.

Perhaps they got cold feet because they were unsure what to get me for Christmas, or maybe they just thought I was a freak.

My mama was worried that I would start to dread Christmas but it never actually dampened my spirits. I’m a massive fan of Christmas.

I like getting together with my friends and family and eating great food and drinking booze, and of course, I’m a big fan of presents.

Some people like to receive big expensive presents, and others like to receive small expensive presents and whilst I’m a huge fan of all kinds of presents there is something to be said for the home made present.

I’ve made some crackers over time. Partly due to being broke, partly due to being a tight-arse, but largely due to being creative and actually enjoying the art of making a gift.

I once carved my mother a dolphin out of black coral. He got the nickname ‘Concord’ because he was rather beaky and lacked pectoral fins. I slaved for weeks whilst whiling away time on my Dad’s boat somewhere on the North East Coast of the US.

That was actually one of my better efforts to be honest. She still has it.

He still looks like an aeroplane.

I find it hard to decide what to give people. I’m not an awesome present picker. Some people have the knack but I don’t. Often when it comes to Christmas presents I’ll often put food hampers together.

It doesn’t have to be hard, and people simply love it, or at least they pretend they do and I’m ok with that.

I’ve popped together a few of my favorite easy hamper ideas for inspiration.

Toasted Muesli 

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup puffed corn (health section of supermarket)
1 cup puffed brown rice (health section of supermarket)
¼ cup of apple or apple and blackcurrant juice
1 cup chopped mixed dried fruit (I used cranberries, apricots, sultanas and dates)
1 cup chopped raw nuts (I used hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds)
½ cup mixed seeds (pepitas, sunflowers and linseeds)
½ cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted in dry fry pan

Throw the juice over your oats and mix to combine and then lightly toast them either in a dry pan or under the grill, ensuring you turn regularly.  Do not burn.
Toss them into a large bowl.

Next lightly toast your nuts in the pan, and then your shredded coconut. I don’t do it all together as they toast at slightly different speeds.

Toss everything together, combine it well and you can either put it into jars or clear cellophane bags fastened with festive stickers.

My World Famous (in Small Circles) Rocky Road 

320g milk or dark chocolate (I prefer dark for my palate, but as a gift I make milk)
1 cup almonds, lightly toasted in dry fry pan
1 cup jelly raspberries
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted in dry fry pan
200g pink and white marshmallows

Line a 30x30cm tray with baking paper.

Melt your chocolate in a bowl sitting on a saucepan of boiling water. Toss all of your other ingredients into a big bowl and pour your melted chocolate over.
Stir well to combine and chuck it into your lined tray and spread out evenly. Cover and place in the fridge. Cut when hard.

Marinated Fetta

There are two ways you can do this. If you have more time and inclination you can infuse your oil.
You do this by popping 500 ml good quality olive oil onto the stove on a medium heat. Into that you add 10 peppercorns, 4 cloves garlic, a 3cm piece of lemon peel and a few sprigs of thyme.

You gently bring it up so that it’s getting some movement, and then you switch it off and leave to cool. For best affect you do this twice.
Remove lemon zest before bottling. Everything else can stay.

If you can’t be bothered, you can just add the peppercorns, garlic and thyme to your oil, but then you really need to leave it for a good week or so.

Place layers of cubed feta, and olives into your jars and fill with the oil.
You will need to sterilise your jars.
To sterilise your jars you put your oven on about 80C.
Place your clean jars into a large pot of boiling water and boil them for 5 minutes. Then carefully empty them and place them on a tray that you put in the oven until they’re dry.

Here's some other ideas for some home made with love gifts.

I am launching my new book on the 28th November. The countdown is on!

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. This book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by Danielle’s often funny and charming story telling.
 Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’
For your chance to win Cook Once, Feed All today pop over and like the Keeping Up With The Holsbys Facebook page, and leave me a message about your most loved family meal. Winners will be announced tonight and will receive the ebook before it is launched.
If you subscribe now to the Keeping Up With The Holsbys mailing list now you will automatically receive my new mini-eBook ‘A Bit On The Side’  - A collection of fabulous summer salads and side dishes.
To pre-order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All head to the Holsby Shop right now and you will be the first to receive the hard copy book after it launches on the 28th.
You will also receive the Cook Once Feed All eBook (worth $15), plus the new eBook ‘A Bit on the Side’ (worth $5) as a bonus gift in your inbox today.

Three for the price of one, and you save $20.

Planning Christmas Gifts and Other Useless Info