I know I'm almost two months late in posting this, and nearly too late for Valentine's Day, but I guess it's better late than never! This Christmas I wanted to give homemade gifts for everyone as I really hate how Christmas has boiled down to buying the perfect gift. I prefer the homemade, and certainly enjoy the edible.
This (last?!) year Jeff and I started planning sometime in the middle of summer what we would make, as some things go out of season and some things require a lot of time sitting before they taste good. We made a spreadsheet of when to start making what, and when each item would be ready to consume.
Summer raspberries and cherries were added with sugar, cinnamon and vodka and stored in the deep recesses of our cabinets for a few months to turn into liqueur. They sat at least two months and then were strained into sterilized bottles that we capped using our beer bottle capper. We didn't know what to do with the "drunken fruit" so unfortunately Jeff and I threw it away before realizing we could have made something like drunken cherry pie. (We certainly learned our lesson!)
Cinnamon apple jelly was my first time making jelly, and I used the recipe from Put 'em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, adding a cinnamon stick for extra flavor. I used organic Fuji apples, nothing special. I strained the apples for several hours instead of overnight, and was worried that the milky pink liquid would never turn into the beautiful, translucent jelly that I ended up with. They did take a long time to set because I didn't use any commercial pectin and not a ton of sugar. I feel like I stirred for at least an hour, but then all at once the jelly started to set and I quickly ladled it into jars and put them into the hot water bath. This jelly is extremely delicious and I would recommend trying it out sometime.
We made the cranberry orange marmalade last year and enjoyed it enough to make it again. I think this year the marmalade is a bit chunkier, and not having tasted it yet I can't completely vouch for the flavor.
Pickled garlic was an experiment, I used cloves from Vermont's Garlic Festival, and although I can't recall exactly which variety I used anymore I think they were German White. After blanching the peels slipped off very easily and the finished product is quite tasty even eaten on its own. This recipe also came from Put 'em Up.
Finally, Jeff made four dozen bottles of Oatmeal Stout, and everyone got a six-pack. I'll let him post about the recipe and beer-making process at a later date.
We rounded it out with a couple bars of local Taza mexicano chocolate, by far among the best chocolate I've set my taste buds on!