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 – Meyer Lemon Marmalade

April – Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

An abundant harvest of Meyer lemons from my backyard tree has me searching for ways to preserve them before they drop to the ground. So far I have made Meyer Lemon Aigre-Doux, salted preserved lemons, quick lemon pickle from Madhur Jaffrey’s book World Vegetarian, lemon pickle with Indian 5-spices from the blog Tigress in a pickle, and now Meyer lemon marmalade. There are still several dozen on the tree and I see another batch or two of this marmalade in my near future. This was my first experience with marmalade and it is delicious, with the added bonus of being easy.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

My recipe came from an issue of Gourmet, December 1999.

Yield 6 (1/2 pint) jars


  • 6 organic Meyer lemons, washed and dried
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups of sugar


  • 6 (1/2 pint) Mason type jars, sterilized
  • Rings and tops, heated in hot water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen string
  • Hot water canner


  1. Cut a large square of cheesecloth and have some kitchen string at the ready. Halve the lemons crosswise and remove the seeds, saving them on the cheesecloth. The seeds will release natural pectin to thicken the marmalade.
  2. Thinly slice each lemon half, if large you may want to quarter the halves and then slice. I wanted a more chunky marmalade so the slices are larger. Try to reserve as much juice as possible. As sliced, place the lemons into a 5-quart nonreactive heavy pot. Tie up the seeds and place them into the pot with the lemons and 4 cups of water.
  3. Let the mixture stand, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours.

    Meyer Lemon Marmalade

    Meyer Lemon Marmalade

  4. The next day bring the lemon mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to about 4 cups. This will take 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Prepare your hot water canner and sterilize your jars. You will need enough water to cover the sealed jars by 1 inch.
  6. Remove the cloth bag of seeds from the pot and stir in the sugar, bring back to a boil.
  7. Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until a teaspoon of the mixture dropped on a cold plate gels. This will take 15-25 minutes.

    Meyer Lemon Marmalade

    Meyer Lemon Marmalade

  8. Ladle the marmalade into jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe rims with a dampened cloth and seal with lids.
  9. Process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes, transfer with tongs to a rack and cool completely. Check to see all the jars have sealed.
Tea and Marmalade

Tea and Marmalade

The marmalade will keep, stored in a cool, dark place, up to a year. Mine will not last that long.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Irish Butter on Toast

Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Irish Butter on Toast

I’m taking this to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday. Come join us at Fiesta Friday #116 by adding your link to and the co-hosts’ blogs. The co-hosts this week are Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Cynthia @ eatmunchlove.