Sunday, September 19, 2010

Don't Leave it Too Late!

The best present a cook can give is a little 'food hamper' full of home-made goodies, maybe some jam, pickles, biscuits, a little packet of pot-pourri (using dried scented flowers from the garden), all can be made during earlier months, leaving things like lemon curd until the last moment.
The other week mentioned making pomanders (an orange studded with cloves, then dried and tied with ribbon). As these are sold in many shops - and very expensive too - being so easy to make feel that this is another gift worth giving, and yesterday discovered a photo of 'one I made earlier' (some years back now) andas I used to make these every year, had quite a collection. They do tend to become drier and smaller as the years go by, but put into a bag with a little cinnamon, then given a shake, this refreshes them and they still work as an 'aromatic' to stand on a windowsill or on a shelf above a radiator. Christmas decorations are another thing we could start preparing now. We should never need to buy any, for there is so much around the house that we can make use of. But more of these in a later blog.

The second photo today shows just the end of a gingerbread house that was made for display at Christmas and then later eaten. It makes a good gift for a family with young children, and although these can be bought ready made - always they are VERY expensive compared to the home-made. As you see. the one below is liberally trimmed with icing (dripping down to make icicles), Smarties and Jelly Babies. Think I also see a gold foil covered chocolate coin above the window.

A basic gingerbread house - using white (royal) icing to decorate - will dry out more the longer it stays at room temperature, and it is not unheard of for these cakes to be wrapped up and packed away to bring out again the next Christmas, and ones after. Never to be eaten, but used for decoration. Christmas tree 'shapes' can also be made from gingerbread and decorated.
A lot depends on the recipe as to the firmness of the gingerbread, and whether you wish the cake/biscuits to be eaten, best check on the Internet to find the recipe most suitable for your needs. Think it is called something like Leubchen (completely the wrong spelling but similar). This decorated cake brings more delight to young children than you would believe.