Friday, January 20, 2012

Red Wine Jelly Taste Test

We had some red wine jelly left over in the 'fridge, so we spread it on some tea biscuits. It was quite good. The jelly has a strong aroma, but the biscuits sort of toned it down.
red wine jelly

red wine jelly

red wine jelly

red wine jelly

red wine jelly

For once, the natural lighting was excellent. I think the snow reflecting the light helped a lot. I think I'm finally getting a feel for how to take decent photos with our camera.

Red Wine Jelly
Yields about 3-4 half-pints
2 cups red wine
3 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin (3-oz. pouch)

Combine wine and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (3-qt. or larger). Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Stir in pectin and boil for 1 min. Remove from heat. Skim foam, if necessary. Pour into glass canning jars and either: 1) let cool, then store in refrigerator, or 2) process 10 min. using boiling water method.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Handmade Food Gifts

Food items are in this last installment of what we made for Christmas gifts. I had some rectangular labels, so I printed some for each item we made.

First, we made some nut and fruit mix, which included (for those who might not be able to read the label in the photo) almonds, salted cashews, dried cranberries, salted roasted peanuts, salted roasted pistachios, yogurt-covered raisins, and salted roasted sunflower seeds. I got the resealable bags we used from Michaels (they came in 3-packs).

Next, we made some peppermint chocolate-covered pretzels. We just added some peppermint oil to the melted chocolate before dipping the pretzels. We re-used some plastic containers (previously used for dry goods, like nuts) we had been collecting over the year from the grocery store. We did wash them, btw.

Finally, we made some chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. Somehow, I forgot to take pictures of the actual peanut butter balls. Oh, well. We'll make them again some time and (hopefully) take pictures. However, I did take pictures of the gift boxes I made to package them in. But first, we put each ball in a mini muffin liner and then put them in the same kind of plastic containers we used for the pretzels, to keep them contained and fresh. Nine balls fit comfortably in each container. I made boxes out of heavy card stock, using my scoring board. Box materials are listed below.

Box materials (to make 1 box):
2 12"x12" sheets of matching or coordinating heavy card stock (I used Christmas-y paper I got in a stack on clearance at Michaels)
scoring board (to make creases for folding)
scissors (for cutting corners to fold)
<1 sheet of red card stock
Fiskars cutting blade and template (for red card stock label border shape)
2"x2 5/8" printed label
green velvet ribbon (also got on clearance for $0.99 at Michaels)
double-sided tape (to adhere box corners, ribbon, and label border)

Each box was measured specifically to fit the size of the plastic container inside. I had to do a little trial-and-error testing to get them to the right size. They're not super durable, but they look nice, if I do say so myself!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Canned Gifts

We made and canned several jams and jellies in 2011 and gave some to our family members. Ed's brother, Mike, really likes grapefruit, so we tweaked a recipe to make grapefruit jelly. It was actually pretty simple (just freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, sugar, and liquid pectin) and definitely tastes like grapefruit.

Grapefruit Jelly
We made some other jellies while we were at it, since the grapefruit jelly recipe only yields about 3 half-pints. We used some wine a friend brought to our house a long time ago for red wine jelly (the alcohol boils off when you make wine jelly, so it's more like a fancy grape jelly with a little different taste). It has a really pretty reddish-purplish color when you hold it up to light, but that didn't make for a good photo on the day I took these pictures. Red wine jelly can be used for flavoring roasts or tenderloins, among other things.

Red Wine Jelly
Next was white wine jelly. This tastes sweeter and milder--more like something you'd put on bread or crackers.
White Wine Jelly
 In early August, we made our first attempt at fig jam. We got a case of fresh figs from Valli Produce and used the whole case. The recipe yielded 6 half-pints, with a little left over to put in the 'fridge. It's really good.

Fig Jam
We made another batch of pineapple jam, which is a family favorite.

Pineapple Jam
And last, but certainly not least, kiwi daiquiri jam (that's what the recipe in the Ball preserving book calls it). We've made kiwi jam before, but this recipe is our new standard (one main difference is that it calls for powdered pectin instead of liquid pectin, which is what the other recipe called for). The best part is that the seeds are more evenly suspended (in the other kiwi jam, they would all rise to the top inch or two of the jar).

Kiwi Daiquiri Jam
I got some label stickers at Office Depot and made my own labels, so here they are all together and labeled (the light wasn't very good all week, and I needed to send these out, so it's not the best quality photo it could've been, but you get the idea).

It was fun to try some new recipes in 2011. Any suggestions for 2012?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Knitted Gifts

Now that Christmas has passed, I can share the things I knitted for gifts. First, a dark purple scarf for Alexis:

Broken Rib Scarf
I just followed a basic "broken rib" pattern from one of my stitch books (p.s.- I got that set of books for $5 from a craft book club). Here's some more detail:

Close-up (Left: Front of scarf; Right: Back of scarf)
I found a pattern online for this paw washcloth/dishcloth and had to make it. It looks like they took the Clemson paw and made a pattern out of it (see the little notch at the bottom of the paw?).

knitted Clemson paw washcloth
Clemson Paw Washcloth
So I gave that to Alexis, too, since she's a fellow Clemson alum and would totally appreciate it. And she got orange and purple gifts, to top it all off! I also made a couple of these for my brother, Daniel B., since he's a Clemson fan.

I made a scarf for my mom. It's really soft and warm. I used a pattern from one of the yarn labels I have; it sort of looks like a waffle pattern.

Mom's Waffle Scarf

knitted waffle scarf
Close-up of Mom's Waffle Scarf
And a scarf for my dad. I used a pattern from the Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting book. It's called the Boyfriend Basket Weave Scarf. It's also really soft, and I like the color.

Basket Weave Scarf

Well, that's about all I had time to knit before Christmas. Considering I've only known how to knit since the end of August, it seems like a lot!