Stocking up Early
Since for years I have given baked goods for gifts, I start purchasing a little at a time each week long before they would be used.
For by purchasing a little extra butter here, cocoa there, a bag or two of chocolate chips, etc. when you grocery shop now then you won't have a major expense later.
Most items can be purchased already and stored on shelves, in the frig, or in the freezer. Butter can be dropped into Ziploc bags for extra protection and frozen for months (if I'm using it within a month or so, I don't even put it in a Ziploc bag). Cream cheese has a "use by" date months out from when it is purchased and keeps very well in the refrigerator (I personally never freeze it).
There isn't very much one uses in their Holiday baking that couldn't be purchased a little at a time beginning now. Of course, people who have lived a pantry lifestyle for a long time know this is also the season to stock up on some baking items on sale
Not to mention those items only found (at least where I live) during the Holidays like fresh cranberries... the bags tossed as is in a Ziploc bag that is sealed and
If you walk into any store which sells craft supplies, you will often see the Christmas displays during bathing suit weather. While this annoys some people, those of us who like to make things by hand understand their logic. Especially craftspeople who sell their items during Christmas bizarre sales for they often start their sewing, crafting, etc. by August.
I have learned (the hard way) that food gifts which can be made early such as preserves, dried food, extracts, etc. can benefit from early preparations. Especially if you have not made them before. For instance, I made vanilla extract for gifts and the recipe said it would be ready in 4 - 6 weeks. But I found it took a full three months to reach a strength I would use in cooking (perhaps a difference in my vanilla beans and the writer of the recipe).
I enjoy giving and receiving homemade gifts whether it is a hand knitted scarf or a jar of preserves (I'm using some now my friend from Ft. Wayne, Indiana brought with her).
It never ceases to surprise me just how much people love receiving homemade cookies and candy... probably as many people today do not bake. Among my daughter's friends, a gift of her special cupcakes is often desired... and her friends do not mind dropping hints. ;)
These days I don't go all out with my baking as I once did. However, I will make a few kinds of cookies or Rachel Ray's fudge which is delicious and so easy.
Here are links to some of my favorite easy Christmas recipes. The pumpkin bars are perfect for right this very minute!
- Rachel Ray's Fudge... here.
- Christmas Jam... here.
- Fun Pretzel Candy... here.
- Raspberry Truffle Brownies... here.
- Beverly Nye's Mounds Candy... here.
- Peanut Butter
EasterChristmas Eggs... here.
- Candied Cranberries... here.
- ... and my family's very favorite Pumpkin Bars... here.
Speaking of recipes, Stephanie posted two which you requested... here. Since this is Part 1, I assume there will be more. However, she is crazy busy at the moment so I am very thankful she posted the recipes for the Bacon, Brie, and Leek Quiche and the easy way she makes Chicken Tikka Masala.
Next week I'll wax poetic about the Hospitality Pantry... God willing and the creek don't rise. :)