|Homemade custard pie, baby!
Does the world really need another post on this? "Need" might be putting it strongly, but as someone who loves to give and receive food, I fall into the you-can-never-have-enough camp. Not to mention, after reading so many books on the evils of processed food, I'm convinced that nothing shows the love like the real, homemade deal. Homemade food gifts say, "Not only do I love you enough to bust my behind in the kitchen (because who does that, nowadays, except for professional food bloggers and authors?), but I also refuse to contribute to the chemicals, pesticides, additives, and emulsifiers circulating in your system." I suppose giving homemade sweets still contributes to the future potential onset of diabetes, but--heck--you can't have everything.
This year I convinced my side of the family to exchange "electronic or edible" gifts among the adults, mostly because I looked around the house and thought we could not handle another truckload of stuff. We're giving gift cards and ebooks and and DS games on the electronic side, and I've already received a box of Harry & David pears coddled in their individual nests, ripening bit by bit. For my parents (who do not read my blogs) I located a bakery in Niles, California, which does a Pie-of-the-Month club! The first Wednesday of the month in 2013 will hereafter be Pie Day, when they go pick up a fresh-baked, locally-sourced, seasonal pie. How I wish there were such a thing around here, since apparently, according to a Wall Street Journal article, "self-gifting" is in. Big time. Just move that Amazon Wish List straight to your own shopping cart.
But I digress.
Last year I passed on a recipe for homemade granola. I'm planning on whipping up another batch this go-round, and incorporating it in a new recipe, courtesy of Creamy and Crunchy, a history of peanut butter which I'm nearly done with and will likely review here next week. Creamy and Crunchy in turn credits The Great American Peanut Butter Book (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985).
Granola Goodness Mix
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup honey (hope you still have lots from the Market!)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups granola
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped figs
1 cup peanuts
Preheat oven to 300F. Combine peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon in a saucepan and heat until mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and granola.
Spoon mixture into a greased 9x13" pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn oven off. Mix in remaining ingredients. Let stand in unlit oven for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally until dry.
Store in a covered container. (Yields about 8 cups of mix)
For those of you who would prefer not to give something sugary, here are two recipes that you could can the old-fashioned way in sterilized jars or, more casually, freeze it for them. Or, bookmark these recipes and self-gift them! I no longer buy these items in stores.
Quick, No-Cook Pizza Sauce
15 ozs tomato sauce (large can)
6 ozs tomato paste (small can)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sugar
Mix together and you're done!
(Compare to the ingredients in Ragu's Pizza Quick sauce:
INGREDIENTS: TOMATO PUREE (WATER, TOMATO PASTE), SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, DRIED ONIONS, SPICES, SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVOR.)
Homemade Enchilada Sauce (courtesy of About.com)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 cups water
8 ozs tomato paste (small can)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
Heat the oil, flour and chili powder together in a large pot. Allow to cook for a minute or two. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Stir well to combine and dissolve tomato paste in water. Allow to cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more spices as desired.
(Compare to the ingredients in Pace Enchilada Sauce:
WATER, CRUSHED TOMATOES (WATER, CONCENTRATED CRUSHED TOMATOES), MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CHILI POWDER (CHILI PEPPER, CUMIN, OREGANO, DEHYDRATED GARLIC), VEGETABLE OIL (CORN, COTTONSEED AND/OR CANOLA), SALT, ONION POWDER, DEHYDRATED GARLIC, SPICE, CITRIC ACID AND SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVATIVE).)
Enchiladas are a fabulous way to use up leftovers from the fridge: meat, beans, cheese, vegetables. I just mix the leftover item(s) with some shredded cheese and salsa and roll them up!
So skip the mall, if you can, and give one of these a go. And check back before Christmas. I won a fabulous almond shortbread cake at auction and intend to research and reproduce it...