Christmas is coming, and I have a lot to do…

I’m so excited that it’s finally December.  Finally Christmastime.  The season when everything sparkles and brotherly love is in the spotlight (where it should always be!).  We’ve had our tree up for a few weeks now, but I’ve been slowly unpacking the other decorations.  Our hand-knit stockings look lovely by the fireplace, and there are jars full of candy canes and colorful gum drops on the kitchen counter.  It’s cozy.  🙂

It’s very cold and gray today.  No snow yet, but I think it’s coming.  I’ve got a big weekend planned–I’m finally canning the apple butter for my Christmas baskets.  The recipe I’m using (from Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation) involves simmering the apple butter in the slow cooker for 9-12 hours.  I’ve been putting it off for a couple months, but this is a good weekend to do it.  Flavio’s going to be busy with a project…it’s going to rain…and I’m going to make the whole house smell like apples and cinnamon and cloves.  I was going to can some mustard while the apple butter simmers, but they didn’t have any sage at the store.  I think it’s a sign that planning to can two things in one day was overly ambitious, so I think I’ll work on my candied orange peel instead.

Last year we started a tradition of baking our own panettone, but I wasn’t happy with the recipe we used (from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day).  This year we’re going to try a new recipe, from the most recent issue of La Cucina Italiana (US version).  It’s a recipe from a San Francisco bakery, I think.  It takes a full week to prepare, because you have to build & feed a starter.  The candied orange peel is for the panettone, and then I’ll also use some dried currants and make a hazelnut glaze for the top of the loaf.  The recipe makes a few loaves, which we’ll tuck into the Christmas baskets, but we’ll also keep one for making Christmas morning French toast (another tradition we started last year).

Have I mentioned our Christmas baskets on here before?  This is the first year we’ve done them, but I’m hoping that it becomes a tradition for us.  Rather than buying gifts for my family, we’re filling baskets with goodies for them.  Mostly things we’ve canned (bruschetta topping, mango-peach habanero hot sauce, spiced apple butter, and lemon-sage wine mustard), but I also plan to include cookies, spiced nuts, and maybe some candy.  I’m having so much fun putting these baskets together, and I’m full of ideas for future baskets (like an Italian-themed basket full of homemade salami, pasta, tomato sauce, grissini, and an herb blend).

Well, tomorrow I will work on all of these things.  For today, I am working on my home.  Groceries, dishes, and laundry.  Perhaps curling up with the cat, a cappuccino, and a murder mystery.  Maybe I’ll find some time to embroider a new hankie for myself, or work on my cross-stitch sampler.  Today is a quiet day.

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2 Responses to Christmas is coming, and I have a lot to do…

  1. S says:

    I love the idea of Christmas baskets! Since I’m super poor this year, I’m planning on making food-related gifts for everyone – cookies, shortbread mixes, pumpkin butter, etc. I’ll probably wrap them individually (so it’ll make me feel like I’m getting them all more), but baskets would be so cute too!

    • whitney marie says:

      I think homemade gifts are so much more meaningful. I found these great gift basket kits at World Market for $5 each…they include the basket, some filler grass, a gift tag, a cellophane bag to wrap the basket in, and a bit of raffia to tie the whole thing up. I bought some rubber stamps to decorate the tags, a spool of plaid ribbon to tie the bags closed, and some velvet bows & glittery snowflakes to fancy it up a bit. I’m having a blast being so creative and playing around with them!

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