Edible Xmas

I think it’s the little things that are the reason we get along so well together. So often, I have an idea rolling around in my mind that I don’t voice because I still automatically assume that whatever it is is entirely too geeky or corny to be spoken aloud. And then Marc says pretty much exactly what I’m thinking and I am tickled; I love it when he talks nerdy to me. To this point, I was wistfully imagining making some sweet, little gifts from the kitchen this year when Marc suggested that we make some edible presents for our friends. Perfect! Yay!

We combed through the cooking magazines for ideas on what to make and, after sufficiently nerdy research, settled on four targets: port wine jelly, star anise honey, lemon-rose gelées, and chocolate truffles. How very Martha Stewart! However, like anything else remotely Martha-esque that I have ever attempted, it is easier said than done. Thus, as the busy Baby Jesus season descended upon us, we only had time to devote to make three and had to ditch the truffles.

First, we made a special trip to Michael’s to obtain vessels in which to put all our delights. Tiny boxes with crisp ribbon, little jars with corked tops and bits of holly and gold wreaths to decorate, and Christmas-y tissue paper in which to elegantly wrap the treats.

Then began the cooking. I once made jam but neither of us has ever made jelly. This port jelly was a piece of cake to make but the finicky boiling and “putting up” of the jelly was the hard part. And the scrubbing off of dried sticky jelly from the stove top and floor was unenjoyable. In the end, however, we ended up with four cute little jars of very port-y meat accompaniment.

The Honey. Nothing particularly tricky about this and nothing really spectacular tasting. It sure looked pretty, though, in the tiny jars trimmed with red and gold.

The gelées were… involved. They weren’t particularly difficult but had to set overnight and then were painstakingly cut into pieces and dusted with cornstarch. Normally, the work wouldn’t have been an issue but it’s hard to find a spare evening during Crazy Season, let alone two nights in a row. Finally, I had to get up one morning at about 4:00am to finish and wrap them in brown paper packages tied up with string. Not one of my favourite things; if we every decide to make them again, we’ll have to use a lot more lemon because they tasted kind of bland. Again, they sure looked pretty, though.

Ultimately, it was very fun (and ridiculously sappy) to make these gifts as the beginning of our first Christmas together.

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