Handmade goodies and homemade recipesæthere's no better way to tell someone how much you care. Plus, creating your own gifts is a fantastic way to package your creative interests all togetherægardening, crafting, preserving, baking and decorating.
A homemade gift is the perfect way to thank those special people who make your day a little easier. Show your appreciation to your mail carrier, babysitter, pet sitter or gardener with this beautiful mix of Sun-Dried Tomato & Penne Soup. It looks so appetizing in the jar, with layers of penne pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, and dried shitake mushroom pieces. Along with flavorful seasonings in a bouquet garni tied to the jar, you can attach your own decorative recipe card with the cooking instructions. Expand on this gift idea by packing the soup mix in a basket with a pair of soup mugs, linen napkins, soupspoons, and perhaps a thoughtful book of inspirational quotes. Sun-Dried Tomato & Penne Soupæit warms the heart as well as the stomach.
Lemon Mango Marmalade brings a welcome taste of sunshine to any occasion. The flavor burst of fresh mangos and zingy lemons is offset by the tang of crystallized ginger and a hint of champagne. Each batch yields a few half-pints to keep around for an unexpected moment: regards, thank you, sympathy, apology, congratulations or whatever sentiment you wish to convey. Add a fresh-picked bouquet of your own garden flowers and a simple handmade card with an endearing message.
With all these possibilities for creating outstanding, unique and delicious goodies, it will be tough to decide what you like more - the giving or the making of gifts from the harvest. And the recipients of your generosity will thank you when they receive the gifts, and think of you again when they enjoy the goodness of nature's bounty.
Dried Fruit and Nut Snacking Mix
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup dried pineapple tidbits
1 cup dried apple pieces
1 cup dried apricot pieces
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup lightly toasted whole almonds
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Place snack mix in pint jar. Adjust cap. Store jar on shelf in a cool dry location.
Yield: about 3 pints
Sun-Dried Tomato & Penne Soup
2 cups penne
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes cut into quarters
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes
1 cup dried shiitake mushroom pieces
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced basil
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
Place soup ingredients into Ball(r) quart jar in the order listed, packing each layer evenly. Adjust cap. Place spices for Bouquet Garni onto the center of a 4- x 4-inch square, double thickness of cheesecloth. Pull edges of the cheesecloth to the center to form a pouch, secure with white cotton kitchen string. Tie Bouquet Garni to the neck of the jar. Makes base for 1 recipe of Sun-Dried Tomato and Penne Soup.
To Prepare Sun-Dried Tomato & Penne Soup
1 cup hot water
8 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup sweet white wine
1 (14-ounce) can diced Roma tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can cannelloni beans
Salt and pepper, to taste
Remove mushroom pieces from jar and put into 1 cup hot water. Let mushrooms steep in water about 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms from soaking water, being careful not to disturb the sediment in the bottom of the cup. Rinse mushrooms under cold running water; drain. Put mushrooms and soup mix from jar into an 8-quart saucepot. Add Bouquet Garni and vegetable broth. Simmer soup until pasta and dried vegetables are tender. Add wine, Roma tomatoes and cannelloni beans. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove bouquet Garni before serving.
Makes: about 8 servings
Lemon Mango Marmalade
2 1/2 pounds mangos
3/4 pound lemons
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely minced
1 package Ball(r) Fruit Jell(r) powdered pectin
1 cup Champagne
4 cups sugar
Prepare Ball(r) home canning jars and two-piece caps according to manufacturer's instructions.
Cut mangoes vertically down each side of stem avoiding fibrous seed in center. Cut slices lengthwise into thirds then peel each section. Puree mango sections in a food processor. Measure 2 cups mango puree; set aside. Remove only the yellow portion of peel from one lemon then cut peel into thin slivers. Simmer lemon peel in water until peel is tender. Drain. Ream all lemons to make 1/2 cup lemon juice with pulp. Combine lemon peel, mango, lemon juice and pulp, ginger and pectin in a large saucepot. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in sugar and return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jar leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rim clean. Adjust cap.
Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner
Yield: about five 8-ounce jars
Altitude Increase Processing Time
1,001 - 3,000 ft 5 minutes
3,001 - 6,000 ft 10 minutes
6,001 - 8,000 ft 15 minutes
8,001 - 10,000 ft 20 minutes