Back To Basics For This Holiday
Christmas is a time that should be a joyous occasion but for many people it’s a time of stress, competition and total anxiety. They are worrying about money, gifts, baking, parties and family, well the list goes on. Right now people are hurting and having trouble paying their bills which adds even more stress to the holidays. So, I thought I would share some ideas on how you can get back to basics with some homemade food gifts that will delight anyone on your gift list! Getting your family involved in the creation of the gifts is a wonderful way to bring the spirit of Christmas back in your life.
People live such busy lives that most really appreciate someone doing the “work” for them when it comes to gifts of food. Perhaps you have a cookie, bread or dessert that is your specialty and you know some friends who always ask for the recipe. Why not make some and include the recipe along with it? Did you try any of the jam recipes I talked about this summer? If not there is still time to make some. Just put a variety of jars that you have wrapped ribbon around, set them in a basket, add a loaf of homemade bread and wha-la you have another gift. Or what about the guys on your list, have any ideas for them???? I do! How about homemade Canadian Bacon or some Jerky? Both are pretty easy to make and do not cost a great deal. Plumb’s Market sells a Jerky Cure & Seasoning Mix in a few different flavors. Each packet makes about 15 pounds of meat! Meats like venison, pork, chicken breast or turkey breast are very popular. You can also purchase a brining mix to make the Canadian Bacon or use the brine recipe that I have. Plumb’s Market has some great meat sales where you can purchase a nice large pork loin to make the Canadian Bacon.
I know that you are familiar with the “original Chex Mix” but have you gone onto their website and discovered the huge variety of mixes they have created? Some of these mixes would make great gifts for stockings (there are sweet ones as well as savory mixes). Flavored popcorn makes a great sweet or savory treat that everyone loves. I made some air popped corn, sprayed it with butter flavor and sprinkled with Cayenne Pepper. Oh, I bet you are wondering if any of these gifts are low in fat. Yes, all of them can be. I have included my version of a lemon chow mix and it was a hit with all my taste testers. Enjoy! For questions/comments please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org also visit my web site for more gift ideas 1lowfatdiva.wordpress.com
Lemony Chow Mix
4 cups Rice Chex
2 tablespoons Blue Bonnet Lite
4 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
½ -3/4 cup powdered sugar
Measure Rice Chex cereal into large bowl and set aside. Melt margarine, add lemon juice, flavoring and 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Stir well. Pour over cereal and mix until cereal is coated. Put mixture in a microwavable dish and cook on high for 1 minute. Remove stir and add the rest of the lemon zest and carefully stir. Using a sifter for the powdered sugar sprinkle over the cereal mixture and gently stir until the cereal is coated. Place cereal mixture onto a sheet of wax paper to cool. Place in air tight container for storage.
NOTE: I like to taste the flavor of the lemon not all the powdered sugar so the mix will not have a great deal of sugar on it.
In a large non-corrosive pan dissolve a brine mix that you have purchased in a gallon of cool water. Stir to make sure everything has dissolved well. Set aside. Trim the fat from a 4 pound piece of pork loin. Place the meat in the pan that contains the brine. The meat should be totally covered with the brine mixture. Cover the pan and place in frig for at least four days.
After four days remove the meat from the brine mixture and rinse the meat under cold water really well. Set the meat on a shelf in frig unwrapped for 24 hours. The meat is now ready to be placed in your smoker. Keep the heat low (175 degrees) for about 6 hours. Remove from the smoker, let cool and wrap up in foil or plastic wrap. You will need to heat the meat thoroughly when you slice it to cook it. Do not overcook or you will dry out the bacon. Enjoy!
Homemade Brine Recipe – If you want to make brine you can Google it or this is a recipe that I use.
1 gallon water
5 Tablespoons Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons of DQ Cure (you can get in a meat dept)
½ cup sugar
Put 2 quarts of water in a non corrosive pan, add salt, DQ and sugar. Bring to a slight boil and stir to make sure everything is dissolved. Remove from heat and add 2 more quarts of cold water stirring constantly. The mixture must be cool before you add the meat or you will “cook” the meat instead of brining it. When the mixture is cool, add your meat, cover with a lid and place in frig. Follow the same directions as above.