A thrifty gift

Each year we exchange gifts with neighbours and friends. Mostly homemade goodies like festive cookies and sweets. Last year chocolate cherry mice were popular. The children love joining in. Especially between school breaking up and the big day. We have so much fun deciding what to make…..and sampling them,  of course.

As the tradition has grown, so have my endeavours to package our gifts up in a fun and eco friendly way. Usually its the bag we send them over in, or reusing the Christmas tin our friends sent over the year before. Some go backwards and forwards each year. We have great neighbours.

This year, we will probably include chocolate chip and clementine shortbread because it is amazingly good. (Recipe below.) I’ll probably drizzle icing and gold stars, but they need a good container too. I’ve been saving up black treacle and golden syrup containers. To give them a festive twist, I knitted up candy cane inspired wraps.

The beauty of these simple knitted covers is that they could be slipped off and used as mug warmers. I’m sure they could be used for a whole number of things. Most likely we will see them again, as they cheer up another package. Next year.

As I was knitting the first one, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Grinch. A Christmas favourite.

Can I admit, I didn’t like the book at first? Not one bit. Maybe it was the greeness of the Grinch from the movies or the way poor Max had to pull the sleigh or the general meaness until the end (hope I didn’t spoil it).

Re-reading it with my children, it has grown on me over the years. With each reading, I like it a little bit more. I whole heartedly love the message it gives. We don’t need all the Christmas trimmings to enjoy this time of year. It is a chance to strengthen our community and friendships.

“Maybe Christmas, ” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

“Maybe Christmas….perhaps…. means a little bit more!”

Now I’m not going to argue with that one.

Would you like the shortbread recipe? It is easy, peasy. Almost lemon squeezy, except it involves clementines not lemons.

Ingredients

175g (6oz) butter (cut into small cubes and  at room temperature)
175g (6oz) plain flour
85g (3oz) semolina (uncooked)
85g (3oz) caster sugar
2 clementines (grated peel only)
100g (4oz) or more chocolate chips

Method

1.    Put everything, except the chocolate chips, in the food mixer and use the dough hook to mix togther. Alternatively, rub the butter into the flour by hand in a bowl and then mix everything in to the mixture.

2.   Mix in chocolate chips into mixture

3.   Grease a 30cm x 22cm (12″ x 9″) tray.

4.   Spread the mixture evenly into the greased tray and press it firmly.

5.   Prick it with a fork, but I prefer to use the fork to make lines all over the flattened mixture.

6.   In a 2-oven Aga, slide tray onto the bottom runner, with the cold sheet on second runner at the top for 10-15 minutes. Turning half way through.

For other ovens, recipes seem to suggest 190 ºc/375 ºf/Gas 5 for 15 – 20 mins, but I’ve not tested it. Shortbread should be pale golden brown when they are ready.

7.   Once baked, cut into desired shapes and sizes, and lift out of the tray individually onto a wire rack to cool.

I love adding semolina to shortbread. It gives a crunch without needing to add demerara sugar. These ones are sweet enough as they include chocolate chip, so cutting down on more sugar is a plus. When buying the semolina, make sure you buy the uncooked dry type, used to make semolina pudding from scratch. Not the tinned, ready-to-eat semolina. Not a crunch provider.

Needless to say, my first two batches disappeared before I had time to package them. It was a job to have enough to photograph with the recycled gift container. I went out for an hour, and they were all gone except a few when I made it home. I had to use a photo from my Instagram feed to include here.

Anyway, I hope the neighbours will like them. The clementines add a fabulous seasonal touch to the shortbread. The containers are ready. A salvaged bow from last year, is fixed on top. Now I just need to make another batch.

Knitting notes

dk wool left over yarn from previous projects
4mm needles

For a Lyle’s Black Treacle 454g tin, cast on 48 stitches using the thumb method, or loosely. Stocking stitch 4 rows of red, then 4 rows of white and so on, until you reach the height of the tin. Cast off.

Sew up the sides and slip onto tin.

For a Lyle’s Golden Syrup 907g tin, cast on 72 stitches and follow the black treacle tin instructions.

Trash 2 Treasure

6 thoughts on “A thrifty gift

  • Friday 9 December, 2016 at 7:17 pm
    Permalink

    Oh you are clever! I could never manage a whole garment in knitting these days but I’d have fun making these and they look brilliant around your tins. I’m guessing large coffee jars would look effective too as the knitted cover would hug the shape of the jar. Clementine and choc chip shortbread sound like a perfect festive filling. Love the whole post from the pictures to the recipe.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #Trash2Treasure

    • Sunday 11 December, 2016 at 9:04 am
      Permalink

      Thank you Fiona. I like the idea of using a coffee jar, so long as the smell could be removed, I guess. I may have to dig around in my food pantry some more. I’ve used the pretty cellophane bags before for giving homemade goodies, which are great, and of course, pretty, but it does make sense to reuse food containers if I can.

  • Sunday 11 December, 2016 at 11:17 pm
    Permalink

    What a great idea to jazz up containers with candy cane wraps – clever and festive. #Trash2Treasure

    • Wednesday 14 December, 2016 at 9:16 pm
      Permalink

      I love red and white stripes.

  • Wednesday 14 December, 2016 at 9:24 pm
    Permalink

    I love Dr Seuss but must admit I pulled out of meeting the mean Grinch. There are some fantastic quotes from the author including the one you have here. It’s great that you have such a loving creative community. #Trash2Treasure

    • Saturday 17 December, 2016 at 10:38 pm
      Permalink

      I can completely empathize with your feelings about the Grinch. He is not the most likeable character. I shied away at first. I shied away from all the Dr Seuss books, but, as you say, there are some wonderful quotes. Also messages, so I am glad I gave them a go.

Comments are closed.

RSS
Follow by Email
Twitter
Pinterest
Pinterest
fb-share-icon
Instagram