It’s no secret that we Kleinschmidts are crafting, cooking folk. And in my last post about Acts of Christmas Kindness, I wrote about how we love to give lots of gifts at Christmas, and many of them (and I think, sometimes the most treasured or appreciated) are handmade. Especially as our focus here is to raise kids to give and not receive, and that the gift doesn’t have to be extravagant to show love, we love to get the kids involved in making these little gifts. These could be for friends and family, you could have a basket of gifts for people who stop by over the holiday period, or they could be for your child’s teacher, the bus driver or your delivery guy. We even carry on the tradition of running a gift out to the rubbish collectors over Christmas weekend! So these ideas aren’t meant to cost the Earth, ‘just a little something’. It’s a paradox though, because on the flip side, we don’t do candy canes in every card to every student in the class… We have a really multicultural class this year, and we know some don’t celebrate Christmas. So we want to respect their beliefs, instead we are thinking of handing out Remember that ad “say it with Roses [chocolates]”, or I think the newer version are the Cadbury Favourites boxes? I would totally rather any of these below than those dreaded orange creams!
This will be one of my regulars as of last Christmas! Surprise everyone, it’s scrubs again this year! There are so many ‘recipes’ for homemade body scrubs online, but I like to take one basic recipe and then tailor it to the recipient. I have so far made lavender sugar salt scrub, mocha scrub, coffee scrub, ‘Bounty’ scrub, lemon salt scrub, and choc-mint body scrub. We paired a little jar of scrub with a Norwex face cloth last year for Master AoRK’s kindergarten teachers as little end-of-year thank-you.
Homemade Body Scrub Gifts
- the bulk of your scrub, something slightly coarse: For me, it’s generally used coffee grounds (something this household has A LOT of!), Crio Brü grounds (ground cacao beans), ground salt or white sugar. If you are using spent coffee or Crio Brü grounds in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to mix. You can always use a combination of the above, I tend to use fine salt or sugar scrubs for face scrubs as our coffee is a little too coarse.
- the oil. Mine is always coconut oil, and i buy it in bulk. You could certainly add some jojoba, almond, apricot or a light olive oil as they are all lovely for the skin. I avoid almond to ensure it’s appropriate for families with nut sensitivities.
- something to personalise: As mentioned, essential oils are wonderful, but you will need to do a little research as to what is safe (peppermint is not advised during pregnancy for example); herbs or flowers like rosemary, lavender or chamomile; zest of citrus fruits for a refreshing morning scrub. This year I have an idea to make Gingerbread scented ones for a Christmassy feel, and will be adding essential oils and dried spices to make it! Will let you know how that goes!
Then I just go nuts! Sterilise some pretty jars, then I fill about 1/2 to 3/4 full with the bulk grinds (use less grinds if you are adding bulkier scenting agents like flowers), add the scenting ingredients and then top with coconut oil, lids on and shake it like an Espresso Martini on date night! Add a pretty label or swing tag with the ingredients and away you go!
Chutneys, Relishes, Cookies & Sweets
So there are obviously a mountain of recipes out there for you to choose from when it comes to small homemade kitchen goodies. We often use Jamie Oliver’s Cheeky Chilli-Pepper Chutney, Homemade Ketchup and the barbecue sauce recipes from one of my favourite of his books “Jamie at Home”, or make a batch of Thai Capsicum Jam and they always go over well! I think the Cheeky Chilli Pepper Chutney is always a hit because it pairs so damn well with all that leftover Christmas ham! We love it with our croissants and ham on Christmas morning!
A great way to add a personal touch to homebaked gift ideas, is to give something that has traditional or sentimental significance to you or the recipient: something they have mentioned they love, or a recipe that has been passed down your family tree. There are a few other recipes that we seem to go back to year after year, one of which is the Mini Raspberry Melting Moments on taste.com.au, decorated with little holly leaves and red berry-looking choc dots on top, and another is Natural New Age Mum’s Salted Caramel Popcorn, which I love with some added pecans and peanuts! droooooool
Now, this is a favourite recipe in our house, and especially with Nana AoRK. We call it Grinch Fudge! It’s based on a Jamie Oliver Coconut Fudge recipe from December 2012 edition of Jamie Magazine, but the addition of pandan essence gives it a wonderful “Asian-vanilla” flavour (as my friend Gita describes it). A small bottle of pandan essence can be found in Asian grocery stores.
As for the name? Well those not familiar with pandan essence mightn’t know that it has a very Grinchy green hue, hence the Christmassy Grinchy name!
500g white chocolate, broken up
1 tin (397g) condensed milk
40g icing sugar
100g desiccated coconut
2tsp pandan essence
extra fine desiccated coconut
This recipe would be really yummy with some chopped macadamias mixed through, in which case I would be inclined to pop them on the tray on top of the coconut, and pour the mixture over to get a fairly even spread of nuts throughout. Otherwise, chop them slightly and add with the pandan essence.
1. Start by lining a small ceramic baking tray with baking paper (we use If You Care brand – no nasties, and it can be reused).
2. Sprinkle some coconut over the paper – as much or as little as you like. This helps stop the fudge sticking to the paper, and makes a nice textural element in the soft fudge.
3. Melt white chocolate pieces and condensed milk over a low heat until melted.
4. Beat in icing sugar with electric beaters until smooth. Add pandan essence and stir again (a swirly effect would be pretty too, we generally stir to combine).
5. Pour out onto baking paper and tap the dish gently on the bench to remove air bubbles. Working quickly, smooth the surface and sprinkle with more coconut.
6. Set in the fridge for a few hours until firm. Slice into small squares with a sharp knife. Keep refrigerated.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix
Now, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t liked this hot chocolate! This year I am going to trial a batch using rice milk powder to make a low-dairy version or use dairy-free chocolate for those who can’t have any dairy! This recipe is adapted to be more Kleinschmidt-friendly, the original recipe by Holly Hanks (Dec 17, 2010) can be found at momitforward.com
AoRK Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix
2.5 cups white sugar
3tbs vanilla paste
1.5 cups raw organic cacao
2tbs pink salt (Himalayan, Celtic, Sea Salt etc)
1 cup rice milk powder (or milk powder of choice)
3/4 cup coconut or rapadura sugar
280g dark chocolate
1. Line a tray with baking paper (we use If You Care brand – no nasties, and can be reused).
2. Place sugar in a heavy pot and melt over a medium heat. Without stirring, swirl the pot so the toffee doesn’t catch and burn. It’s up to you how far you take it, darker = richer and sort of more bitter flavours.
3. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and whisk until smooth.
4. Working quickly, pour toffee onto the lined tray, angling the tray to allow the toffee to spread to an even thin layer. Doesn’t need to be perfect as it’s getting blitzed anyway. Allow to cool completely (an hour-ish) and DON’T TOUCH THE TOFFEE!! I have had so many burns but still need this reminder. Also, don’t lick the spoon!
5. When cooled completely, crack toffee sheet with a spoon and peel off paper. Pop into the food processor or Thermomix 10sec/sp10 until it’s a fine powder. Keep your lid/MC on until the dust settles.
6. Add cacao, salt, milk powder and sugar and mix again to combine (TMX 10sec/sp7). Scrap down.
7. Add in the choc pieces, and pulse to your desired consistency. I like to still have a couple of little choc-pebbles in my mix to scoop from the bottom of my mug, or keep pulverising to create a fine powder.
Bottle it up with a swing tag, and keep in a dry cool place. If you want to add instructions to the tag, suggest 2-3 big spoonfuls to steamed milk (cafe latte style), but Nana AoRK prefers hers just with boiled water.