March / 2009


Keyword Exclusive - Dressing up your garden gifts
by: Debra Gibson

Supplement to “Gifts from the Garden”


Dressing up your garden gifts

More gifts from the garden recipes



Dressing up your garden gifts

“When you are creating a gift that comes from nature, you should accentuate that gift with colors and textures that also come from nature,” observes Janet Johnson, Allen County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Johnson has lots of simple and inexpensive suggestions for dressing up gifts from your garden.

The most inexpensive way is with brown paper and colored raffia, she says.

“Take brown paper and cut it into shapes,” Johnson says. “Then write the recipe or the name of the gift on the brown paper. Punch a hole in the brown paper and use raffia to attach it to the gift. The raffia has an earthy texture and comes in many colors. Just be sure to use a color that comes from the earth.”

Brown paper can also be shredded to use as filler for baskets of items. Even newspaper works well. Shred the newspaper and put it on the bottom, if you have a large basket, then cover it with shredded brown paper and arrange your items.

Johnson says another idea is to attach small wooden items or items with a farmhouse look, such as enamelware, to the gift. For example, attach a wooden spoon to a jar of salsa or preserves or place jars of relish on an enamelware platter. Use your imagination. Any item can be used. For example, Esli Pelly attaches small pieces of corncobs to her corncob jelly as a fun reminder of what’s inside. Decorative dishtowels also work well for this.

Fabric is another great choice. It can be fashioned into bows, brought up around the jar, and tied with raffia or used as the liner of a basket. Again, choose prints that evoke a garden or earthy feel.

“Fabric that mimics the look of flour and mill sacks is particularly good,” Johnson says. “It gives the gifts a look from the ’30s and ’40s when food preservation was at its height.”

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More gifts from the garden recipes

SUNNY GIFTS FROM SUNFLOWERS
from Esli Pelly

To make a simple birdfeeder the birds will love, use wire or homespun and loop it through a large sunflower. Hang it from a tree or shepherd’s rod. The birds will clamp on and peck out each sunflower.


SEEDS FROM SUMMER
from Esli Pelly

Perhaps you have favorite flowers or vegetables. Why not share your favorites with friends by giving them some of the seeds? Save the seeds from your favorites and make up your own seed packets using decorated sandwich bags, small jars, or even making your own paper packets on the computer. The seeds make great gifts or stocking stuffers.


CORNCOB JELLY
from Esli Pelly

10-12 ears of red corncobs (field corn, not sweet corn, kernels removed)
3 cups sugar
1 pkg. fruit pectin


Break corncobs into pieces and bring to a boil in a large pot of water. Drain off the liquid, saving 3 cups of that liquid. Add fruit pectin to that liquid and bring to a boil. Add sugar and boil for 2-3 minutes longer or until it gets to a jelly stage. Pour into sterilized jars. To give as a gift, tie a small piece of corncob on the jar with raffia and the recipe.


APPLE OR CRABAPPLE JELLY
from Nina Jones

4 lbs. apples or crabapples
1 box of Jel-Ease pectin
7 cups sugar


Prepare about 4 pounds of fruit by washing and cutting in small pieces without peeling or coring. Add 4 cups water. Simmer about 10 minutes, covered. Crush with masher, and simmer 5 minutes more. Squeeze out juice through cloth or bag.

Measure out 5 cups of juice. Stir in 1 box Jel-Ease pectin. Place on heat and stir continuously while bringing to a full boil.

Gradually add 7 cups of sugar, stirring well to dissolve it. Bring to a full, rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Start timing and continue boiling for 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, and quickly skim to remove foam. Immediately fill hot sterile jars to about 1/4 inch from the top and screw lids on tightly. Invert jars on a towel for 5 minutes. Return jars to upright position and let jelly cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.


HUCKLEBERRY COBBLER
from Nina Jones

3 cups fresh ripe huckleberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar (huckleberries require about 1/3 more sugar than other berries)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons margarine


Cook berries, water, and sugar until juicy. Add cornstarch and margarine, cooking until mixture starts to thicken.

Topping

3/4 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk


Mix together the flour, sugar, and milk. Grease baking dish with melted margarine. Pour dough mixture into dish. Add hot fruit mixture by pouring slowly over the dough mixture. You don’t need to stir. Bake at 350° until golden brown.

Notes: Huckleberries can be canned or frozen like you would other types of berries. They also make a good jam or jelly. The key to good huckleberries is to let them ripen on the plant.


EVERLASTING CANDLE
from Edie Bell

2 cups cornmeal
2 cups Borax
2 Tablespoons salt
Dried zinnias or any flower you prefer (dehydrated oranges or apples also work well)


To dry fresh flowers: mix all ingredients together except for the flowers. Spread 1/2 inch of this mixture in the bottom of a shoebox. Cut flowers, after dew is off in the morning, leaving a 3-inch stem. Turn flowers upside down and place on top of cornmeal mixture. Then cover with 3 inches of cornmeal mixture. Repeat until you have layers of flowers. Put in a dry place undisturbed for about a month.

Remove the flowers and arrange them as you like in a wide-mouth, quart-size canning jar. Fill with ultra pure/odorless/smokeless clear candle oil. Drill a small hole in the lid. Insert a candlewick through the hole (an Enchanted Candlewick made by Darcie is what Edie Bell uses). When the candle burns down, add more oil. If you want a scent, add scent to clear candle oil.


FRIED BLOOMS
from Edie Bell

Yellow blooms from squash or pumpkins
2 eggs
Canola or olive oil
Crushed cracker crumbs


Pick the yellow (male) blooms from squash or pumpkins by twisting the end off where the bloom is attached to the vegetable. Rinse. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Dip the blooms in the egg then in crushed saltine cracker crumbs.

Pour a small amount of canola or olive oil in a skillet and heat on high. Drop coated blooms in and fry until brown on both sides on medium heat (approximately 5 minutes). They taste like mushrooms.

Hint: Pick your blooms before 9 a.m. so they don’t wilt. The blooms will only last about 1 day in the refrigerator. Male blooms do not produce fruit, so you are not sacrificing produce.


GOOSEBERRY CRUNCH
from Edie Bell

4 cups fresh gooseberries
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick melted butter
2 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pick gooseberries and wash. Pinch off stems.


This is a four-layer desert: 1/2 of crunch mixture on the bottom, gooseberries, syrup, and finally the remainder of the crunch mixture.

For the crunch topping, combine flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Add a stick of melted butter and stir. Place half of mixture in bottom of a rectangular baking dish.

For syrup, combine sugar and cornstarch, then add water and stir. Add vanilla and cook on stovetop until thick. Pour syrup over gooseberries.

Top with remaining crunch mixture and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 350°.

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To read the Kentucky Living March 2009 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Gifts from the Garden.