On home-crafted gifts

NOT our soap:  our camera is lost somewhere amongst the kitchen clutter.  Image from here.

Normally my kitchen and my garden are my queendoms:  places where I reign supreme, and often quite solo, in my tasks.  This holiday season however I have company in the kitchen, and it’s welcome, it’s crowded and sometimes it’s a bit loud with our quarrels…as queen, you see, I am not very used to challenges to my authority.

We make all kinds of goodies this time of year.  This year, we’re experimenting with goat’s milk soapmaking.  I used one cooked/heated recipe with beef tallow that I found in the back of my favorite goat-y book (Goats Produce Too), and Tom made an uncooked one with cocoa butter and olive oil.  Soapmaking, despite its outcome, is a sloppy endeavor.  Tom made wood box frames for the molds: you unscrew them once the soap has hardened.  Oh, and one thing we hadn’t considered?  Soap needs to cure for about a month before use!  whoops.

My daughter and I have been making gifts for the CSA and for her teachers.  Our weekend task was chevre truffles and spiced chevre balls (okay, the latter needs a better name; basically they’re my regular herbed chevre rolled in a powdered spice/salt mix, bite-sized, entirely too edible).  We also made more cajeta (goat’s milk caramel) and we canned it so it doesn’t need to be eaten right away.

In point of fact, I find that it helps if not all gifts need to be eaten right away:  like the canned cajeta, the truffles and (cough) balls are frozen.  So is the chicken liver pate and the goose rillettes; hiding under their layer of clarified butter and gently frozen solid, these jars’ contents won’t expand  and break upon freezing.  It also helps a tired queen stage her production throughout this busy season.

I like sharing my kitchen for this gift-making.  But does it mean I need to clean up twice the mess?  Uh, yes it does.  Happy crafting, all.

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6 responses to “On home-crafted gifts

  1. We just cut up our holiday batch of soap. Most of our family members will be getting a bar of soap, a few heads of garlic, and a small bag of Chocolate Cherry popcorn from the garden. I like the holidays more when I don’t have to spend my hard earned money on presents. Happy solistice El!

  2. Oddly enough, that’s how I feel about vegetables. Some winter squash are a relief in a summer full of tomatoes and zucchini. Carrots are easier to deal with than kale, etc.

    I’m enjoying the idea of homemade gifts a tiny bit more than the actual doing this year.

  3. I’m also working on handmade gifts ( none with goose products) and having a great time doing it.
    The thought of heading to the mall makes me cringe.
    Happy Holidays to you and your fam.

  4. Your balls sound delicious! 😉

  5. In an effort to always try to learn something new everyday, today I’ve decided that cajeta is the new word/edible of this day. Holy smokes. It all sounds so good! Happy holidays, fabulous lady!

  6. Hello, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and just wanted to say how much I appreciate it. I share many of the same opinions/concerns as you and find it refreshing to know that there is someone else out there who “gets it.” I also like the mix of gardening, politics, photos, and stories from the home. Finally, I also live in SW Michigan so it’s wonderful to read gardening posts that are on the same season as me! A Michigander (in the dead of winter) should never read the gardening posts of those living in California, it just breeds jealousy! Anyway, thanks for writing!

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