December – Gifts From the Kitchen

December – Gifts From the Kitchen

This year I am having fun making many of the gifts I am giving during the holidays. As well, it is wonderful to have something ready for hostess gifts when invited to a party. Wrap any of these in a pretty tea towel for a personalized gift.

Here are some ideas, most have been posted on my blog over the past few years.

II didn’t realize I had so many recipes for lemons! Skip past this section if they are not available to you. But, if you are lucky enough to a backyard lemon tree (or don’t know what to do with ALL THOSE LEMONS), here are some options, make:

Meyer Lemon Confit

Confit Meyer Lemons in Olive Oil

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices (would work with regular organic lemons, wash and maybe add more sugar as Meyers are sweet):

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices

Meyer Lemon Indian Spiced Pickle

What about preserved lemons? Use some holiday spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in the preserving process.

Preserved Lemons 

Preserved lemons

There is Lemon Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Just the thing for Christmas tea.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Toast and Tea

There is Meyer Lemon Aigre-doux. This is an Italian sweet and sour preserved lemon recipe, wonderful blended with olive oil for a lemony salad or roasted vegetable dressing.

Meyer Lemon Aigre-Doux,
Preserved Lemons

And lastly Lemon-Lime Curd, amazing on any kind of holiday bread or toast. You could also make this all lemon curd or even all lime curd. Panettone anyone?

Lemon Curd

Lemon Lime Curd

What about homemade applesauce? Apples are readily available in many areas. Add a few cranberries to the simmering apples to color them pink or red. Homemade applesauce is so much better than any commercial one you can purchase.

Gala Applesauce

Consider a pretty crock of cheddar beer dip or spread. Use a sharp cheddar and one that is the darkest orange for the best color (I used a white sharp cheddar which wasn’t as pretty).

Cheddar-Beer Dip

Or a jar of homemade mustard, there are two recipes on my blog. Choose the one that fits your schedule. Here is the second for hot and sweet mustard, it’s quick and easy.

Hot and Sweet Mustard

Give it in a pretty container for a special treat.

What about spice mixes? Most of the commercial spices are full of sugar, preservatives and other ingredients you don’t want to put in your food.

A popular mix with my friends is the Fennel Spice from Michael Chiarello. Although it is easy, I find most folks would rather receive a jar than make it themselves. I have given it many times in the past and it is always a much appreciated gift. He also has an excellent toasted chili spice. I use it to coat port tenderloin (or a slow cooked shoulder of pork) before I cook it sous vide. It’s also great on grilled chicken. For a vegetarian or vegan option it is wonderful coating slices or wedges of sweet potatoes.

Fennel Spice Before Being Blended – Can’t you just smell those fennel and coriander?

Pork Tenderloin Coated with Vinegar Then Coated with Toasted Spice Rub

There are other bloggers who have amazing spice mixes, Mollie from the Frugal Housewife has a delicious “smokin’ Chipotle Taco Seasoning‘. Any Mexican food fan would love a jar. She has a number of other spice mixes and blends, all of which don’t contain any preservatives or additives you don’t want to feed your family. Plus, they taste better than commercial blends. The Foodbod is another source of various spice blends, focused on vegetarian cooking. She is also the queen of sourdough. She sells her own starter on her bread website, which is full of tips and instructions.

You’ll also find a number of spice mixes on my Pinterest page.

I am taking these last minute ideas to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #254. Join the party by adding your own link. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives

April – Quick Meyer Lemon Pickle

April – Quick Meyer Lemon Pickle

Lemon pickle is often served with Indian meals. I can imagine it would go well with many other kinds of meals as well. Do you have any favorites? I’ve purchased jars of it in the grocery store and been disappointed. But, I love the idea of this pickle and have an abundance of lemons to use. This recipe came from Madhur Jaffrey’s book World Vegetarian. It’s a quick and simple pickle which is ready in 5-7 days, unlike ones that are fermented for several weeks. It also uses ingredients common to most kitchens. There really isn’t anything too fancy here. You could probably use regular lemons as well, let me know if you try it.

Quick Lemon Pickle

Quick Lemon Pickle


  • 2 large fresh lemons (preferably organic), well washed and dried
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of pickling salt – I used Kosher
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 7 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice


  1. Cut the lemons into 1/8 inch slices, cut the slices into 1/8 inch dice. Remove the seeds.
  2. Add the lemons and the rest of the ingredients to a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer 5-6 minutes.
  3. Transfer the contents of your saucepan to a clean 8-12 oz container. Cover with the lid. Cool.
  4. Store on the counter at room temperature for 5-7 days to cure.
  5. Refrigerate once to your liking.
  6. Use within 6 weeks.

Note: We ate the first of this pickle last night with roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken. Oh my, was it a hit! I wish I had made a double batch! This lemon pickle is tart, sweet, spicy, has definite heat but is not overwhelming. And, it set off the moist chicken in a delightful way. This pickle about to become a staple in my fridge.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Quick Spicy Lemon Pickle

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Quick Spicy Lemon Pickle

I might try freezing some to have this winter. Has anyone tried freezing an Indian pickle before? This pickle could be addictive and it add a tart note which would work with winter braises beautifully. I don’t want to be without it. And all that turmeric is good for you.