Give a gift that fills their stomaches

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 10, 2011

It is that time of year when I begin to think of what to give friends and neighbors for Christmas. I usually send fruit from Pittman & Davis to friends out of state. Their fruit is really good and shipping is included.

Locally, one can give gifts of pecans and peanuts. I received a bag of peanuts from Sumblin Farms in Kinston, Ala., and thought that was such a great gift that can be used in the weeks to come. Thank you, Anne, for sending me those peanuts! (She included the recipe for roasting: preheat oven to 500 degrees, place full baking sheet of peanuts in oven, turn off after 4 minutes. Do not open oven until cooled.)

Priester’s Pecans in Fort Deposit, Ala., has a great selection of pecan gifts. I love going into their store and it is only an hour’s drive from Andalusia. Or, pick pecans locally. Shelling the pecans gives added value to the gift. For gifts of honey try the Savannah Bee Co. Tupelo Honey, Ga., for simple fresh honey. The list can go on and on as I am sure you are aware, but perhaps the best gifts would be from your own kitchen.

Recently, as I showed some official guests around town and we had a tour of a local entrepreneur’s gourmet products kitchen. They make their products using local honey and have an array of jellies, jams, sauces and even just honey. I particularly liked their Jezebel Sauce. This is a Southern sauce (maybe having its origin on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.) Recipes vary but a jar of pineapple or apricot preserves, a jar of apple jelly, ½ cup horseradish, 3 Tbs dry mustard, 2 tsp course ground black pepper is typical. Serve over pork or chicken, as a dip for eggrolls or over cream cheese. Horseradish is the key. Mix the ingredients to your taste. Or buy some from Magnolia Honey which of course adds honey to the mix.

All the December magazines have edible gifts to give. Probably you have your own edible gifts that you do every Christmas. Perhaps you have that perfect fruitcake recipe or cookie recipe. I read that fruit cakes were coming back into favor since William and Katherine had one inside their wedding cake! The New Orleans paper is giving out praline recipes (which are fun to make and give). They use your local pecans which makes them somewhat cheaper to make. Food Network Magazine for December had 50 edible gifts to give. I liked them because they were simple and not time consuming. Just put these gifts in a jar or tin and put a ribbon on the container and you have a great gift for friends or as a hostess gift.

White Chocolate-Peppermint Bark (I love this stuff.)

Melt 12 ounces finely chopped white chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Sir in 1 tablespoon melted shortening and 4 ounces chopped white chocolate until smooth. Spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 cup chopped peppermint candies. Let harden; break into pieces.

Holiday Party Mix

Melt 1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread with ½ stick butter in a large bowl in the microwave at 50 percent power. Stir in 8 cups Chex cereal. Transfer to a large re-sealable plastic bag; add a 1-pound box confectioners’ sugar and shake to coat. Add ¼ cup colored sprinkles and ½ cup each yogurt-covered raisins and red and green M&M’s; toss to combine.


Arrange small clusters of pecans on a baking sheet. Melt unwrapped soft caramels in the microwave and drizzle over each cluster. Top with melted chocolate. Let harden.

Spiced Rum Balls

Mix 3 ½ cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies, 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, ¾ teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon ground ginger. Stir in 3 tablespoons light corn syrup and 1/3 cup each brandy and rum. Roll into balls and chill until firm. Roll in confectioners’ sugar.

Sugar Plums

Finely chop 1 ¼ cups toasted almonds in a food processor with 1 ½ cups each prune and dried apricots, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon orange zest, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Roll into balls, then roll in coarse sugar.

Chocolate Haystacks

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in the microwave. Stir in 2 ½ cups chow mein noodles until coated. Drop spoonfulls on an oiled parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Let harden.

Chocolate Orange Peels

Peel 3 oranges. Cut the rind into strips and boil in water 15 minutes; then drain and rinse. Simmer 3 sups each sugar and water. Add the peel and cook until soft, 45 minutes. Drain and toss in sugar. Transfer to a rack to dry, 8 hours. Dip in bittersweet chocolate; let harden.

Chocolate Fudge

Melt ½ stick butter, 4 cups marshmallows, 1 cup cream, 2 cups sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring, 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 3 cups chocolate chips until smooth. Spread in a foil-lined 9-by13-inch pan. Let cool and cut into squares.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Simmer 1 ½ cups sugar and ½ cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan but not stirring until dark amber, about 12 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in 1 cup cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Let cool, then divide among jars and chill.

I have had this recipe since summer and have been trying to find a place to use it. My daughter-in-law came back from a week at the beach and had this recipe which she said was just wonderful. I think it would be something new and great to do over the holidays and I am putting it on my list to do. I have heard that you cannot stop eating these!

Chocolate Balls

(Do not know exactly how many these make)

Crush to powder 1 package of Oreos and mix 8oz. package cream cheese (let cream cheese warm up on the counter first). Roll into balls and refrigerate for 1 hour. Then dip in melted white and milk chocolate. (The original recipe called for using tubs of dipping chocolate (in the baking isle made by Baker’s). You will need 1-2 tubs of each white and milk. For decoration drizzle the opposite chocolate over the top. Refrigerate overnight. You can use chocolate chips melted with some cream. This will be a little more difficult and messy compared to the tubs.