Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Back To The Future...

500 Recipes: Jams, Pickles and Chutneys
Last week I was musing over on my 'All That I Am, Warts And All' Facebook group about the merits, or not, in some cases, of gifting homemade presents for Christmas and other occasions. The FB group is like a sister branch of this blog and I post musings, links I find and random wibble, feel free to join if you're not already signed up and you're on Facebook of course.

I'd stopped giving homemade gifts for some reason, a few people were less than impressed with my efforts and 1 person, behind my back I may add, even accused me of being cheap and stingy! Cheers! With costs on the rise, and wanting to do so many other things with our hard earned cash, the pull of using up my craft and herb/spice stash is pulling me in the direction of making homemade gifts again.

I had this urge a couple of years back and knitted several wash cloths in lovely cotton thread which is all twisted colours, the plan was to gift the cloths with some homemade herbal bath/cosmetic gifts like soap or milk bath. I knitted the cloths and then chickened out, so I have 6 wash cloths with no home?! Granted I could use them here in the kitchen or bathroom so they're not entirely wasted, but I'd like to use them as a gift base.

I'm not the worlds greatest knitter, I can do the basics, but I haven't given myself much in the way of practice with patterns, in the past I've knitted baby cardigans but only in stocking stitch or garter stitch, a scarf, hat, wash cloth or other simple object I can knit up fast. The goal is to be able to do fancier stuff in the future, but for now I can make hats for the men and pretty scarves for the ladies. I have the wool in already and needles, so making these simple gifts won't cost me anything. Those people who don't appreciate the time, effort and love that went in to making them, or the fact that I'm doing my best to still give without having to break the bank can go cry to Santa and see if they get anything better! :p

Pot Holder Loom 'Squares'
A couple of years ago, I even started weaving squares for a gift for my Dad, but I chickened out after 12 squares, why? Because I thought my efforts at mastering the art of pot holder loom weaving would not leave the receiver of the gift as impressed with my efforts as I was! The project is now in a box under the spare bed, but it really would make a lovely woolly throw for those long cold nights ahead.  Should it stay in the craft stash or should I finish it? I've got little Christmas cross stitch designs that I did intend to make up into cards to give instead of the shop bought ones, again I chickened out!

There's stuff for rubber stamping, beads for making friendship bracelets, lots of card making stuff, knitting stuff, hats and scarves started to give as gifts, that were abandoned as they came close to completion, because I got a fit of the 'What if they don't like them?'. So what if they don't like them? Is it my fault they don't appreciate the thought and effort, or they see it as my being cheap? Not that wool and other crafting materials are cheap nowadays, as my future sister-in-law quite rightly pointed out!

Get over it! That's what I'm telling myself! Get the projects finished, get them wrapped and see what happens?! What's the worse that can happen? Someone hates the gift, their loss, or they may just love it! So I'm going to do it, cor blimey I'm being brave! I'm going to team wash cloths with either some homemade Rose Petal Milk Bath, Lavender Bath Salts or some Gardeners Hand Cream made with herbs from either the garden or my stash of dried herbs. As I make stuff up I'll blog recipes and update to make the above links.

As for the book in the first picture... And the back to the future title of this post... I bought 500 Recipes: Jams, Pickles and Chutneys for 50p from Woolworths back in 1982, its old and dog eared and for a long while it was missing in action. The book is written by Maguerite Patten, the doyen of WWII cookery, it was originally published in 1963, the year before I was born. It had been missing, but turned up during some sorting of the loft to locate some of my craft stash, along with a few other books from the series, was it meant to be?

When I first started to learn to cook I loved making jam although the first ever blackberry jam set like concrete in the jar and couldn't be eaten lol! But from the book I made Spiced Apple Chutney, Lemon Curd, Piccalilli, Ketchup and lots more delights.

I remember making my Dad pickled eggs, chilli pickled onions and other goodies and he loved them, a few months back when I went to visit, Dad was moaning that he couldn't get any decent piccalilli any more to put with his sarnies. Was he dropping a hint? It has been ages since I made any preserves, some of my hubby's relatives make jams/chutneys etc and give them as gifts at xmas, we love to receive them, but can you give colds  to Newcastle? Ironic question really as my hubby's branch of the Cook family come from Newcastle lol!

All the recipes I loved making are in that book, but since those days in the mid 80's I've discovered the delights of growing my own herbs, so I think some homemade mint jelly, geranium jelly and some herbal twists to fruit curds are on the cards. I'm also thinking of making Elderberry Rob and Blackberry Cordial with the free fruit on offer from the hedgerows and some Blackberry Vinegar, maybe some Cold & Flu Tea complete with instructions in a pretty jar. I have the jars in the loft, I have labels, there's even scraps of fabric I can use, yes there will be some costs for sugar and the like, but at the end of the day, I'll be able to make some of the goodies for us to and these gifts can't be bought in the shops!

Part of me can't help but think that once upon a time when gifts were homemade and people made the effort, families were closer, neighbours were closer and life was happier. I know there are arguments for technology, without it you wouldn't be reading this and we wouldn't be connecting. But today social media seems to have usurped real social interaction. Buying mass produced gifts has taken away individuality and creativity. Hmmm getting all reflective now, who would have thought that discovering a book in the loft could lead to all this, can this lead to anything? Only way is to get 'back to the future' to find out, go back to the old ways to find ways of giving gifts for the future and yes that was a shameless scifi title thrown in, because I can :p

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Thanks for your comments on my cards and posts, they are very much appreciated, I'll get back to you as soon as I can if a reply is required. Hugs - Debs x