Even though it doesn’t feel like it outside yet, fall is here. These are my favorite things for this season:
– Lehman’s Old Fashioned Berry Basket: A gorgeous basket that attached to your belt so you have two hands free to pick berries or small veggies, it’s handcrafted by Amish artisans in Ohio. It would also make an excellent storage basket in your pantry or kitchen for candles, utensils, etc. Available here: http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=2263&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=berry+basket.
– Jar Cakes: Always handy to have in the pantry for a spur of the moment dessert or gift. They will keep for several months, so make up a few batches on a Saturday and put them on shelf; easy as cake! Some of my favorite recipes are:
– Donating: With the holidays coming up soon, I’d like to share a tradition we have at my house. The week before Thanksgiving, we assemble a complete Thanksgiving dinner (except for the meat) and donate it to a food bank. We include boxed stuffing, several canned goods, gravy mixes, a 5 pound bag of potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, egg noodles, Jiffy pie crusts, canned pumpkin pie filling, canned apple pie filling and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. We also throw in some staple items like pasta, dried beans, canned tomatoes, tuna, rice, and vacuum-sealed chicken. Before Christmas, we donate toys for kids as well as hats, gloves and scarves.
– Food Mills: Traditionally used to puree vegetables for canning, these have so many other uses. You can make the perfect pasta sauce, grate soft cheeses, make fine breadcrumbs, or prepare home made baby food with a food mill. I was fortunate enough to find a brand-new one for just $5 at a thrift store this summer, but if you’re not that fortunate you can usually get them for about $35– the ever-popular Lehman’s carries a great model: http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=361&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=food+mil.
– Pinecone Firestarters: If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace or woodstove, you’ll use these all the time when the weather gets cold. If you’re like me and you aren’t that lucky, they’ll definitely come in handy on your next camping trip when we you want to get a roaring fire going. The pinecone serves as kindling, while the wax coating allows for longer burn time so that your wood has a chance to get burning before the kindling burns out. Detailed instructions on how to make your own can be found at the Bluebonnet Village Craft Network at http://www.bluebonnetvillage.com/pinecone.htm. The only modification I suggest to their instructions is to use candle wicking instead of string. So make some cones and enjoy your fire!
– Get Well Soon Gift Baskets: Cold and flu season is definitely here, and everyone needs to be cared for, so why not put together a gift basket for a friend who is under the weather? This is especially great for single friends and college students who have to take care of themselves. Fill a basket with tissues, cough drops, lip balm, soup (home-canned is best, but you can of course put in a dry mix or commercial canned), a handmade rice heating pad (add some essential oils like lavender to the rice if you like) and vitamin C tablets. You can also throw in your friend’s favorite magazine or a good book.
– Norwegian Cooking: Well, my husband is primarly Norwegian-American. He is only the third generation of his family to live here in the United States, so my interest in his heritage is strong. I also grew up eating some great Norwegian food (my mother made rosettes every Christmas, and we also ate lefse and Norwegian-style meatballs a fair amount). And the food is just good! Some of my favorite online sources for Norwegian recipes are: