Thursday, December 04, 2008

holiday herbal gift series #4

This is supposed to be easy, but I am really trying to make it so the ingredients are easy for everyone to find in the store around the corner. This morning I woke up thinking about little corked vials of frankincense and myrrh in handmade gold lame drawstring bags - but not everyone has big bags of them lying around. Check your nearest herb shop - or check at one of these fine establishments that choose to advertise or write in The Essential Herbal Magazine: The Rosemary House, Herbs from the Labyrinth, Farm at Coventry, or Mountain Rose.

Some other ideas for today:
Deviled Mixed Nuts (from Susan Evans)
3 T coconut or canola oil
2 C assorted nuts
2 T sugar
1 t paprika
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir nuts for 2-3 minutes until browned. Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl and sprinkle over nuts. Stir to coat evenly and heat for a few minutes more. Drain nuts on wire rack lined with paper towels.

Cinnamon Holidays Tea (from Mary Ellen Wilcox)
1/2 C broken rose hips
1/2 C orange peel in small pieces
1/2 C hibiscus flowers, broken
1 C lemon verbena leaves, crumbled
4 t cinnamon pieces
Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. To make a cup of tea, use 1 t blend in a cup of boiling water and steep 5 minutes. A bit of honey may be added if desired.

DELUXE Almond Bark - my own decadent creation
After stumbling across some 1 pound blocks of high quality white chocolate for an unbelievable price, I made some variations on almond bark and it was my main gift to give that year. My mother brought her empty jar back and asked for a refill.
I used a combination of ALL of these items: dried cherries, dried blueberries, hazelnuts, almonds, nut and raisin trail mix, chopped up caramels, and chocolate chips.
About 2 cups of the mixed ingredients for every pound of the white chocolate. The white chocolate can be melted in the microwave or in a double boiler. Mix in the yummies, and then spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Chill in the fridge for about 1/2 hour and then break into bite-sized or larger pieces.

All of these can be made in larger quantities and packaged creatively as gifts. Stay tuned. We have 7 holiday issues here, and lots of other ideas. Feel free to leave any of your own ideas or recipes in the comments section!

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