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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home-made Christmas Gifts, Part One: **Spoiler Alert**

Today is a sick day from work, and I'm home with the flu. I'm feeling pathetically useless and a tiny bit sorry for myself. Having spent most of yesterday sending emails to the wrong people and mailing out incorrect forms to patients, I'm pretty sure the people I work with are rather relieved that I'm staying at home too.  So, in order to feel a bit more like a functioning, capable human being, I decided to make the most of this impromptu time-off by making some Christmas gifts. Yes, I'm going home-made this Christmas.

Home-made Christmas Gifts, Part One: Home-made Chutneys.

David and I recently bought a slow-cooker with the intention of making hearty winter stews ahead of time so that we could come home from work to a steaming plate of deliciousness. To accompany this new purchase I bought a recipe book, and in it discovered that I could make chutney in the slow-cooker. Probably not much of a discovery, I'll admit, but I've never thought about making chutney before. That thought then moved on to another thought that I should make some for Christmas presents, and so last month I made two kinds of chutney, and today I made the pots look pretty.

Spicy Plum and Apple Chutney

1 garlic bulb, peeled and sliced
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and thinly shredded
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1kg cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3 star anise
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
225g golden caster sugar
1kg plums, stoned and quartered
250ml cider vinegar

1. Mix garlic, ginger, onions, apples, star anise, cumin seeds, cinnamon, sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt in the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours until apples are tender.
2. Stir in plums and vinegar, cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours until pulpy. Stir once in a while.
3. Discard cinnamon stick and star anise before ladling chutney into sterilized jars.

Tangy Onion Chutney

8 red onions, sliced
100g caster sugar
100ml red wine vinegar
100ml red wine
dash of grenadine syrup or cranberry juice.

1. Mix onions and sugar in pot, cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, stir occasionally until the onions are soft and caramelized.
2. Add red wine vinegar and red wine, cook uncovered on high for another 2-3 hour. Stir occasionally until sticky. Add in grenadine or splash of cranberry juice. Leave to cool, then transfer to sterilized jars.


L: Spicy Plum and Apple Chutney, R: Tangy Onion Chutney


Decorating the pots

First I cut out large circles of fabric, using a pair of pinking shears to prevent fraying of the edges.

Fabric from Piglet's Pincushion

I then cut to size some brown card parcel tags,


named and dated them,


and tied them around the lids, securing the fabric.


I'm going to give them as gift sets of two. Aren't they cute?



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