Give Fuel

By November 13, 2012Fuel
I have decided to have a go at giving more homemade gifts this year, and hopefully forever.  This is a big step for me. For most of my life, I considered myself anti-artsy and un-creative, if there is such a thing as an un-creative person.  Maybe I just thought that because I did not enjoy the crafty things that my mom and sister like– making gingerbread houses, decorating easter eggs, making soap, homemade jam, sewing (what’s my deal?)– that I was just not cut out for being a cutesy, crafty, pioneer woman.  BUT, maybe I just wasn’t giving them a fair shot, or perhaps I hadn’t found the right crafts for me…

These days, I thoroughly enjoy creative crafts–in moderation, and depending on what/for whom I am making.  Every once in a while, a divinely-inspired idea comes to me, and I am compelled to see it through until completion…in these cases, I feel nearly-possessed by an urgency to create until a masterpiece is born.  Other endeavors are less intense, but equally fun, and usually involve short-bursts of creativity.  Still others are completely concocted in the kitchen–and these may just be my favorite types of crafts, the cook-able and bake-able kinds…yes, food is art!!  

Regardless of the medium, edible-ness, and functionality, art and crafts make great gifts for gazillions of reasons.  To name a few: Because they (usually) are thoughtful, Because they involve giving of time and resources and creative genius, and Because they can often help the giver to relieve stress (though not in some cases in which stress may be created…but let’s just try and avoid that).

Here are some of the things that I have made/plan to make for my loved ones.  I hope this can inspire you to bless others generously with the gifts you’ve already been given!

homemade holiday gift ideas:

  • nut butter
  • cookies
  • granola/muesli
  • apple cider spice kit
  • candles
  • spiced nuts
  • bread
  • energy bars (great for athletes!)
  • magnets
  • recipe books (w/ binders, page protectors, and typed recipes and photos!)
  • cds (a bit vintage, but great for car rides!)
  • photo albums/dvds
  • songs (compose/sing/play)
  • poems (write/recite)
  • cards
nut butter 

Peanut Butter (right): Roast 2-3 cups of peanuts in oven for 20 minutes at 300F until golden, and cool.  Place in food processor, aka. “F.P.”.  Add 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp  sea salt (if nuts are unsalted).  Process until oily (10ish minutes).  Almond Butter (left above): roast raw almonds in oven  for about 10 minutes at 275F (until soft and lightly browned)…be sure to watch and not burn nuts!  Once cooled, process in F.P. for about 10 minutes (until oily/gooey).  Add cinnamon, salt, dried berries, other nuts, as desired (I like Costco’s Coastal Berry Blend trail mix with cried berries, nuts, and yogurt chips), and pulse to mix.  Serve w/ sliced apples, etc… 

For a chocolate nut butter, you will need 2 c. roasted nuts (see above for roasting procedures), 3 T. cocoa powder, 1 T honey/sugar, 1/4 t. sea salt…First, process nuts until drippy, then add cocoa powder and salt, and continue to process until drippy again.  Lastly, add sweetener and process until drippy and ready!

You can even tie a cute ribbon around the jar with a gift tag or ingredients.

chocolate chip cookies

an attempted “Mock-Levain Bakery” recipe (2 batches)
(I love that the owners of Levain Bakery are triathletes!)

Large Cookies

1 c. cold butter, 2.5 c. all-purpose flour, 2 t. baking powder, 1/2 t. baking soda, 1 t. salt, 2/3 c. light brown sugar, 2/3 c. white sugar, 2 lg. eggs (cold), 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips, 3/4 c. walnuts or pecans (optional).

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder & soda, and salt.

Cut in cold butter until crumbly.  Add sugars, and stir well (break up clumps).

Add eggs and mix until dough forms.

Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts).

Chill dough for about 1 hour, and keep half chilled while baking first batch.

Heat oven to 400*F (for large cookies), or 375*F (for smaller cookies).  Roll half of the dough into 7 balls (or more, for smaller cookies), and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes on center rack, and then turn sheet 180 degrees.  Bake again until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on sheet, then place on wire rack.  Bake 2nd batch.

“small” cookies

This is, hands down, my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, ever.  These can be gifted in a cutesy box or used tine with a bow on top.  You may also add crushed peppermints or use mint-flavored/colored chocolate chips for festive flare… Please share with your friends/neighbors/family/strangers/co-workers around the holidays, and taste a couple right out of the oven…with some milk, or ice cream :O


I have a new favorite recipe: 

place in mason jars/tin cans to give as gifts!

Preheat oven to 300*F

In a large bowl, stir together: 5 c. rolled oats, 1 c. each of raw almonds, walnuts, and pecans, 1/2 c. sesame seeds, 1/2 c. turbinado sugar (or brown sugar), 2 t. cinnamon, 1 t. ginger, and 1 t. sea salt.

In  small saucepan, stir and heat to warm: 1 c. applesauce (or other fruit puree), 1/3 c. brown rice syrup, 1/4 c. honey, and 2 T. walnut oil (or plum kernel oil, hazelnut oil, or vegetable oil).

Add warmed mixture to dry mixture, and stir to blend.  

Spread granola onto two baking sheets/jelly-roll pans and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes.  You may also wish to rotate the pans halfway through (switch racks).

Remove from oven, mix in 1 c. craisins (or other dried fruits) and 1c. chocolate chips, and cool.

Store in an airtight container with a bow on top!  Keeps up to one month.

*If you prefer a variation,or a muesli, take a peek at my previous granola post.

spiced apple cider in a basket

-2 cinnamon sticks
-6 whole cloves
-1 whole nutmeg
-1-2 inches ginger root
-10-12 apples (or a half-gallon of 100% apple juice)
-2 lemons
-1 orange

Place spices in a sachet or small jar.  Put jar/sachet into basket with apples/juice, lemons, and orange, and tie cider directions to basket handle with a ribbon.  You may even want to copy/paste this photo of my cute cup of cider (below) to your directions 🙂

1. juice about 10-12 medium apples in juicer (or use 1/2 gallon prepared juice). also juice  
    one orange and two small lemons, reserving peels.  then put 1-2 inches of shaved ginger 
    root through the juicer and combine with apple and citrus juices.
2. pour juice into medium saucepan and turn heat to low.
3. add in cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg (shaved/chopped).
4. add in peels of the orange and lemons.
5. continue to heat mixture on low, bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes, and serve with a 
    ladle!  You may let the ingredients marinate at room temperature for a few hours (up to 
    one day) if extra spice is desired, and then reheat when ready to drink.  Once the 
    spiciness is just right, you can strain out the peels/spices for a less-messy cider.

I like mine served with a cinnamon stick for extra festiveness

d.i.y. candles

you will need: 
old candles, pot, coffee tin, water, cotton string/wick, jar, pencil
optional add-ins
crayons, liquid essences, citrus peel/zest, shells…
optional accessories:
 ribbons, lids, diy candle instructions…
how to:
  1. half-fill pot with water, and place empty coffee tin inside.  turn heat on low.
  2. place old candle(s) in coffee tin (and crayons, cut into pieces).  add scent and fruit peel/zest if desired.
  3. allow wax to fully melt.  remove from heat, and pour into readied jar(s) with any add-ins.
  4. immediately place cotton string (long enough to touch bottom of jar) in center of melted wax, and tape the top of the string to a pencil.  set pencil across top of jar until the wax is completely cooled.  remove tape and trim string to desired length.
  5. add any cutesy accessories/print out instructions if desired.
*for the wick, use a thick-ish string for best results, or twist two smaller strings together.
*if adding crayons for color, consider using white/colorless old candles.
*if adding scent, use odorless old candles.

Mason jar grapefruit-scented candles with crayon coloring and string wick.
Spiced nuts
You should probably make some of these for yourself, too, or you might end up eating the gifts before they are given!
[Roast 3 cups of nuts (I used almonds and pecans) in a pan at 180*F for 10 minutes (lightly golden).  Place nuts in heated (medium) pan on stove, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring in:
3-4 T. sugar, 2 t. cinnamon, 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. black pepper, 1/4 t. cumin, 1/2 t. curry powder, 1/4 t. ground cloves.  When sugar is melted and nuts are browned, toss mixture onto pan to cool.  Give as a gift in a used pie tin and cover with foil]
What things do enjoy making and giving???

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