I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I actually saw it on another blog last winter and thought, “What a great idea!” At our age, no one wants or needs “things” so consumable gifts are just the ticket, and if they are homemade from the potager, and from the heart it’s even better. Here’s the box that I made for this year’s Christmas exchanges:
A Year of Preserves!
January: Apricot Wine Jelly Everyone deserves a bit of wine for New Year’s, but one can enjoy this fruity, wine-based jelly all during the month of January!
February: “Love Apple” Chutney February is the month of valentines, romance, and love, so what could be more appropriate than an exotic chutney made with tomatoes, which long ago were better known as “love apples”? Enjoy this month’s jar with roast beef, lamb, chicken or pork
March: Mint Jelly Why just wear green, when you can eat it, too? Sparkly Mint Jelly is lovely with lamb, but try it on top of a cracker spread with cream cheese as an appetizer.
April: Gooseberry Jam April is famous for April Fools, foolish pranks, and being silly as a goose, so Gooseberry Jam is a perfect way to celebrate the month.
May: Memorial Jelly (Elder) Memorial Day was earlier known as “Decoration Day,” when families would go to tidy the graves of ancestors and relatives, and decorate them with fresh flowers. What better way to honor our elders, than with a beautiful, flavorful elderberry jelly?
June: Lavender Jelly June is the traditional month for weddings, and lavender is the traditional herb for weddings. Enjoy this delicate jelly on tiny squares of toast for afternoon tea, stir a bit into a cup of hot tea, use as a glaze for cooked carrots, or use the recipe enclosed.
July: Blackberry Jam is made at the beginning of this month, with the berries picked from the wild bushes along our woods. A favorite since colonial times and still among our favorites!
August: Peach Jam Nothing says “August” more than peaches, dripping with fresh fruit flavor that has been captured in this rich, gorgeous jam! Top cheesecake, ice cream, or pound cake, if you don’t just want it on toast!
September : Lemon Verbena Jelly The Lemon Verbena shrub drops its leaves when frost threatens, so traditionally the leaves were harvested to make this lovely jelly. Use it in the usual ways, especially in thumbprint cookies, or stir a teaspoonful into a cup of hot tea!
October: Garlic Jelly Not for breakfast, but this jelly is great served with roasted meats, brushed on at the end of grilling beef, pork or chicken; or used to glaze tiny meatballs or patties.
November: Black Raspberry Jelly brings back the memories and taste of mid-summer, when hot afternoons were spent in the cooler woods picking these “black caps,” as they were called in colonial times. Dark, mysterious, and delicious!
December: Rosemary-Orange Marmalade Oranges were a traditional gift at Christmas, and their scent is part of holiday traditions. Enjoy this tasty marmalade on toast, or with roast pork or chicken, or to brighten left-over ham or turkey sandwiches.
The content is printed on nice paper and included in the gift. Sometimes the June jar is “Strawberry Jam” if I feel the recipient might prefer it to lavender, or “Pear Jam” in September rather than lemon verbena. That’s the lovely thing about computers, change can be done in an instant!
Bonus Recipe! I developed this recipe for my first book, which included appetizers and herbal cocktails woven into the mystery/romance! It’s a party favorite now.
Lavender Glazed Meatballs
Mix together: 1 lb. mild sausage, 2 T. chopped parsley; ¼ c. finely chopped shallots, ½ c. small curd cottage cheese; 1 egg; 1 ½ tsp. ground lavender flowers, 2 c. bread crumbs. Mix by hand until well blended. Shape into small 1” balls. Broil, turning often until brown on all sides. Remove from oven and place in a shallow baking dish. Heat 1 c. lavender jelly in microwave until softened. Pour over meatballs, turning until they are covered. Serve immediately.
I’m already starting to think about next year’s boxes…maybe pickled products and green tomato mincemeat? It’s good to decide early so the appropriate seeds can be ordered. Lots of good “Black Friday” deals coming up on the seed websites next week, so I’m working on seed orders now!