Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One last Christmas related sort of posts.

This is a bragging sort of post, partly because the gift was so well received and also partly because I managed to have it together enough this year to finally follow through on something I wanted to do when I put my first garden in and started canning.

This year, under the tree, were 7 matching, bright red bags, tied with raffia with tags gifting them to our family. In the bags were the fruits of my labors, a combo of home grown and purchased fruits and vegetables canned by me, tagged by my husband, and put into the bags by the both of us.

I was so excited to get these gift bags together this year. I didn't have the best season in my garden, my tomato supply was anemic despite having 7 plants and a good portion of what I did get on the vines were eaten by rodents looking for a midnight snack. My cucumbers did all right, but I ended up with only two vines. But still, with all the issues I did have,  I had a ton of zucchini, my hot pepper plants finally took off and the end of the summer and are still producing now, and my winter garden isn't too shabby.

I am already plotting what I will be planting this upcoming spring and summer, with an eye towards making gift baskets again for Christmas not only for our immediate family, but hopefully we will be able to expand this out to some friends as well.

In our bags this year (from right to left) was the hot chocolate mix, lemon pickles, a blueberry lemon-basil preserve, our reserve limoncello, peach preserves and zucchini relish. All labeled just like the hot chocolate mix there. The corgis were happy to sit for a bit for a treat, but only a bit. I gave the photo a vintage look and my husband sized and printed them out.

I am surprised I never blogged about the pickles, they are really quite good, and I could swear I remember writing it up. I actually have the blog from last summer when I made the blueberry preserves sitting in purgatory. I even have the pictures I took for that post sitting on our desktop. I will have to resurrect that post at some point. Blogger had crashed on me and I thought it was lost forever, but I noticed just a few months ago, it was still sitting in the memory banks.

And the limoncello, oh the limoncello. This is the second batch we've made and by far it is the best, homemade or store bought,  I've ever tasted. We called it our reserve because we were able to get a small amount of 190 proof grain alcohol from a friend who went to Texas. We let the cello hang out for 7-8 months before we added the simple syrup, then it sat an additional 3-4 months before we strained, bottled and labeled it mid December for the gift giving. It is so, so smooth. We are working on finding another source for some 190, if not, 151 will get going by the end of this month, the lemon tree in back is back in season and we've got a lot of lemons back there again. We will be making more this year, no matter what proof alcohol we end up with so we can share the wealth.

So, my plans are forming. I want to add more pickled veggies, like peppers and beans. I hope to be able to do 2-3 jams again. I am literally planning my garden around what I can put up for the next year, not only for my husband and I to enjoy, but also to share with my family and friends.

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