I have been tardy of late in my food writing. Something for which I received a mild reprimand on Facebook. The trouble is that I am a little preoccupied with a looming deadline for the completion of the taught part of my MA. I just have the small matter of handing in a three thousand word paper comparing two films ofKing Lear which can be summed up as ‘redemptive versus existentialist’ but I really should at least try to find the other two thousand nine hundred and ninety-seven words. I am sure they are lurking somewhere, though it is entirely possible that they have donned their scarlet lippy and red stilettos and gone tripping off for a night on the town. Once they return, hung over and dishevelled, I will attempt to marshal them into some sort of coherent order and get on with the more serious business of playing with my maslin pan which has been sore neglected of late. I dusted it off last week to make some granola in, but it was less than impressed.
Once my essay is handed in, I will have much to tell you of my trip to Spain and then before we know it the boating season will be upon us and there will be foraging and boating opportunities aplenty. Hurrah!
For now, I will tell you of my Christmas hampers. When I was looking for inspiration, I found a dearth of ideas around. I suspect it is because, like me, when making up the hampers, the very people you are assembling them for may stumble upon your blog and therefore it is not politic to publish abroad the detail of their present before they have received it. This Christmas I did three main hampers using lovely wicker baskets with hinged lids fastened with leather straps that I had found in one of my favourite charity shops.
I always line my hampers with tissue paper and package with straw, whether they be smart wicker baskets like this one, or old cardboard boxes that I have re-papered. I try to colour match the tissue paper to the material tops I cover my jars with. The photo above has gold and white with gold stars tissue papers but the photo does not show these well. I wish I had kept a list of the contents but I am not that organised. I do know that there were a selection of jams, jellies and chutneys; four or five bottles of assorted hedgerow tipples; crab apple cheese; sauces such as Blackberry Ketchup and Sage, Apple & Vintage Cider Sauce; Sugars such as Vanilla, Lavender or Cinnamon; Herb Rub presented in a Salt Grinder; flavoured salts; Cakes such as Hedgerow Christmas Cake, Rose Petal Tiffin and Quince Crumble Cake; Pistachio & Cranberry Cookies; Chocolate Gin Damsons and finally a couple of bottles of the Captain’s homebrew. I make ample use of ribbons and for a non-foodie filler added a tea towel and coaster chosen with the recipients in mind.
Unfortunately the corks were not altogether leak proof so there was some spillage but thankfully not much. Scouring charity shops is a great way to pick up some interesting jars and bottles. I have found some lovely ones over the past year.
As a final flourish I made gift tags, picking the most relevant images I could find and making them as festive as possible. I rather suspect I had far more pleasure making them than those receiving them did but who cares! I do know that the Captain is still using his as a book mark but then he has to face me every day :)
Other hampers I put together included Butterbeer Kits for both adults and children; Bloody Mary Kits; Christmas Muffin Kits and Breakfast Kits. Details to follow.
I shall leave you with the recipe for Rose Petal Tiffin which was a forager’s delight. I used Japanese rose petals that I had dried earlier in the year and rose water that I had made from the same roses. So satisfying to be still using a taste of summer deep into winter.
Rose Petal Tiffin with Pistachio Nuts and Figs
200ml double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp rose water
350g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
handful of dried rose petals
250g unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
7 dried figs, chopped
Line a lightly oiled 16cm square tin with cling film. In a pan warm the cream with the sugar and rose water, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. When completely melted stir in the cream until fully incorporated. Fold in the remaining ingredients. Press into tin, smooth over the top and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Lift slab from tin, turn onto chopping board and peel away the cling film. Cut into bite sized pieces, approximately 20.